Social studies equips students to understand their own power and their own responsibility as citizens of a powerful democracy. It equips them to make sound judgments and actively contribute to sustaining a democratic society, maintaining good stewardship of the natural environment and enhancing the health and prosperity of their own communities.


Rose Nelson
Social studies curriculum specialist




Gaining tools to explore the world • Becoming familiar with primary and secondary sources and digital media • Learning strategies for asking good questions and doing research

Curriculum samples

Kindergarten through third grade

  • Focus: World history and Washington state

  • Topics:

    • Conceptualizing your world and your place in it
    • Exploring the world through the lenses of geography, economics, civics and history
    • Exploring the idea of community: family history, neighborhoods, communities and state

Fourth grade

  • Focus: Washington state history (Since Time Immemorial–1889/statehood)

  • Topics:

    • Growth of northwest coastal, Puget Sound and plateau tribes prior to treaties (time immemorial–present)
    • Maritime and overland exploration, encounter and trade (1774–1849)
    • Immigration and settlement (1811–1889)
    • Territory and treaty-making (1854–1889)

Fifth grade

  • Focus: U.S. history (Since Time Immemorial–1791)

  • Topics:

    • Development of tribal nations in North America (time immemorial–1791)
    • Encounter, colonization and devastation (1492–1763)
    • Revolution and constitution (1763–1791)

Middle school

Conducting research • Honing ability to gather and evaluate information • Using information as evidence in a wide range of endeavors

Curriculum samples

Sixth grade

  • Focus: World history

  • Topics:

    • Study of world civilizations to deepen the understanding of the Earth and its peoples
    • Study of world history to evaluate the enduring contributions of ancient and medieval global societies
    • 8,000 BCE to 500 BCE
    • 500 BCE to 500 CE
    • 500 CE to 1600 CE

Seventh grade

  • Focus: Washington state history (1854–present day)

  • Topics:

    • Territory and treaty-making (1854–1889)
    • Railroads, reform, immigration and labor (1889–1930)
    • Turmoil and triumph (1930–1974)
    • New technologies and industries in contemporary Washington (1975–present)

Eighth grade

  • Focus: U.S. history (1763–1877)

  • Topics:

    • Fighting for independence (1763–1783)
    • Establishing the new nation (1781–1815)
    • Slavery, expansion, removal and reform (1801–1850)
    • Civil War and Reconstruction (1850–1877)

High school

Conducting research • Honing ability to gather and evaluate information • Using information as evidence in a wide range of endeavors

Curriculum samples

Ninth grade

VPS does not offer a ninth-grade social studies course.

Tenth grade

  • Focus: World history (1450–present)

  • Topics:

    • Global expansion and encounter (1450–1917)
    • Age of Revolution (1750–1917)
    • International conflicts (1870–present)
    • Emergence and development of new nations (1900–present)
    • Challenges to democracy and human rights (1945–present)

Eleventh grade

  • Focus: U.S. history (1877–present)
  • Topics:

    • Industrialization and the emergence of the United States as a world power (1877–1918)
    • Reform, prosperity and the Great Depression (1918–1939)
    • World War II, the Cold War and international relations (1939–1991)
    • Movements and domestic issues (1945–1991)
    • Entering a new era (1991–present)

Twelfth grade

  • Focus: Contemporary world problems and civics
  • Topics:

    • Use conceptual understandings developed in civics, economics, geography and history to explore pressing issues in our world today
    • Examine local, state, tribal and national government and how the state and federal constitutions govern the rights and responsibilities of all residents and citizens in Washington and the rest of the United States
    • Examine global themes rooted in environmental issues, economic development, human rights and civic action and responsibility by examining current events and primary documents from around the world

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