Grade 1 Social Studies

We Are ACS Model Citizens and Learners

Unit Sketch

This cross-disciplinary mini-unit launches the year with a short focus on the ACS Core Values and Approaches to Learning while building classroom community, routines and rules/expectations. In Grades K-2, this unit extends throughout the year, offering opportunities to revisit what it means to be an ACS Model Citizen and Learner while reinforcing the basic practices of Responsive Classroom.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • What you believe (value) shapes what you do (actions).

  • Model citizens have qualities that help them have positive relationships with others.

  • Citizens and learners obey rules in the classroom, at school, at home, and in the community.

  • Rules allow a community to be safe, fair, and happy.


Students will be able to...

  • With assistance, decide on classroom rules

  • Demonstrate the signal for quiet attention

  • Model and practice basic classroom routines (bathroom, transitions, lining up, walking in the hallway, raising a hand to ask a question)

  • Follow the sequence of a morning meeting (greeting, sharing, group activity, morning message)

  • Follow the sequence of a closing circle (quick share, song or chant)

  • Identify purpose of rules

  • Identify ACS Core Values and match with pictures

  • Identify ACS Approaches to Learning and match with pictures

  • Draw a picture of themselves demonstrating an ACS Core Value

  • Draw a picture of their class demonstrating an ACS Approach to Learning

  • Tell what might happen next in potential scenarios at school


Unit Sketch

This inquiry engages students in expanding their understandings of families in general and the idea that families can be both similar and different. Although much of family life may be shared—language, religion, culture, and traditions—there are important differences across these elements. The compelling question “How can families be the same and different?” offers students opportunities to explore a range of family dimensions— structure, activities, and traditions. By doing so, students can see how their family and their classmates’ families share commonalities and differences. In any inquiry around students’ families, however, teachers should use their professional judgment and demonstrate sensitivity regarding the varied family structures of their students and the availability of information.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Families are a basic unit of all societies, and different people define family differently.

  • Families can be both the same and different:

  • Families can have different traditions and religions, but they all take care of each other.

  • Families can have the same members but different celebrations.

  • Different families have different family members, but they all have traditions.


Students will be able to...

  • Name different roles they take on in their family (child, sister, brother, etc.)

  • Draw and label a family portrait

  • Complete a family tree

  • Draw and describe family activities

  • Complete a family activity diary

  • Draw and describe family traditions

  • Collect, display and share family artifacts in a classroom museum

  • Make a claim in response to the compelling question

  • Support the claim with evidence from classroom activities

Family Stories

Unit Sketch

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of their families as a way to begin understanding the concepts of past and present. By answering the compelling question “What do family stories tell us about the past?” students learn about change over time. Through the use of family artifacts (e.g., photographs, marriage licenses, family trees, keepsakes), students learn that such items can reveal information about how life in the past differs from life in the present and how their families have changed over time.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Families have pasts and change over time. There are different types of documents that relate family histories.

  • Historical sources reveal information about how life in the past differs from the present.


Students will be able to...

  • Tell a story to a classmate

  • Tell a family story during morning meeting or circle time

  • Identify family characters within oral storytelling activities

  • Tell a family story and draw an accompanying picture

  • Brainstorm a list of artifacts that could be used to tell a story

  • List three ways that families change over time

  • Draw a then and now picture to illustrate a family change

  • Make a claim about family stories and use evidence to support the claim

Maps and Geography

Unit Sketch

This inquiry leads students through an investigation of maps and spatial representation, exploring how and why we depict the physical world the way we do on maps. The compelling question “Can my life fit on a map?” encourages students to consider our ability to represent real-world places on a map. In doing so, students explore the meaning and purpose of maps, the tools that help us represent places, the purposes of those tools, and how we use those tools to read and make maps. This inquiry provides a foundation for students to develop their geographic reasoning and map literacy, both of which are critical to understanding how humans interact with geography and geographic features across time and space. The manner in which students gather, compare and contextualize, and eventually apply evidence should enable them to make and support their arguments in response to the compelling question.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • Maps and map tools, such as legends and cardinal directions, can help us navigate from one place to the next, provide directions, or trace important routes.

  • Maps are used to locate important places in the community, state, and nation, such as capitals, monuments, hospitals, museums, schools, and cultural centers.

  • Symbols are used to represent physical features and manmade structures on maps and globes.


Students will be able to...

  • Participate in a discussion about important things in their life and contribute ideas to classroom discussion about fitting them on a map

  • Identify map symbols, explain their purpose, and tell why they're useful

  • Identify cardinal directions on maps and on a compass rose

  • Use cardinal directions to locate classroom objects

  • Identify map features and predict what they represent

  • Create maps with titles, symbols, features, a key, and a compass rose

  • Use Google Earth and other digital tools to study maps

Global Citizenship

Unit Sketch

The compelling question for this inquiry—“Why should I be a global citizen?”—highlights the idea that civic ideals and practices are not beyond the capacity of primary-level students to understand and embrace as they begin their journey to becoming productive members of local communities and the world beyond. Setting a strong foundation in first grade will allow students to build on these ideals as the content they face becomes increasingly sophisticated. Those traits of responsible citizenship—respecting others, behaving honestly, helping others, making and obeying rules and laws, being informed, and sharing needed resources—will be familiar to students through their experiences in their home and school lives. In their investigation of global citizenship, students begin by identifying and discussing a range of traits associated with the idea of responsible citizenship. Through the featured sources in this inquiry, students will build their understandings of these traits and see how, through a series of scenarios, those traits can play out in three contexts: classroom, community, and the world. In the end, students return to the compelling question and answer for themselves why they should (or should not) be global citizens.

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • You are a citizen at home, at school, in your community and in the world.

  • Responsible citizens in a classroom are responsible, respectful, and fair.

  • Responsible citizens in a community are honest, helpful, share with others, and make and obey rules.

  • Children can act in ways that show they are responsible global citizens.


Students will be able to...

  • Contribute ideas to class anchor chart about ways kids can change the world

  • Identify traits that responsible citizens in a classroom demonstrate

  • Describe images that correspond to responsible classroom citizen traits

  • Identify responsible community citizen traits demonstrated by images and video

  • Describe ways that communities work together to accomplish tasks (Civ.6)

  • Describe ways in which people have tried to improve their communities (Civ.14)

  • Refine/revise ideas about responsible citizenship in the classroom and community

  • Contribute ideas about actions that demonstrate responsible global citizenship

  • Decide as a class on a global citizen service project

  • Participate in a class service project, reflecting on its impact on individuals, the community, and the world

Saving, Spending, Sharing

Unit Sketch

This inquiry features an investigation of economic decision making through the context of how families manage their money. In examining the costs and benefits associated with making decisions about spending and saving money, students should be able to develop an explanation with evidence to answer the compelling question “What choices do we make with our money?”

Enduring Understandings

Students will understand that...

  • People and families work to earn money to purchase goods and services that they need or want.

  • People make decisions about how to spend and save the money that they earn.


Students will be able to...

  • Participate in a discussion about choices

  • Identify ways that people earn or get money

  • Compare spending and saving

  • Identify uses for money

  • Identify goods and services and other activities that people spend money on

  • Sort activities that involve earning, spending, saving, and sharing money

  • Describe a budget and its purpose

  • Identify the advantages and disadvantages of saving money

  • Describe ways that people can save money (as well as investing)

  • Identify ways that people can share money through philanthropic pursuits

  • Describe advantages and disadvantages of sharing money (donating)

  • Develop an evidence-based explanation about choices people make with their money

  • Ask and answer questions about evidence-based explanations