Social Studies

QPS’s Social Studies program prepares students to navigate the world with understanding and with the inquiry skills necessary to make sense of it. Through a comprehensive survey of human civilization, our students learn to make comparisons and perceive connections among past and present events and among happenings in economics, politics, science, cultures, and the arts. Every year adds another layer to our students’ understanding and questioning, starting with our youngest and continuing with increasing complexity to our oldest.

The program emphasizes the development of research, writing, and presentation skills through an ongoing combination of activities that include:

Exploring the Global Community (approx. ages 5-7)

Students in Stage 1 embark on a virtual tour of the seven continents. Through read-alouds, art projects, food tastings, music, dance, and guest speakers, they “visit” different countries, and experience their varying cultures, always with attention to similarities and patterns. Our world travelers are exposed to:

  • How natural resources affect the way peoples survive and form their cultural identity.
  • Languages, foods, architecture, beliefs, transportation/inventions, rural vs. urban environments, housing and clothing of each region studied.
  • Activities and stories about important groups of people, noteworthy persons, and events for each country,
  • Traditional dances, art, music, and regional ceremonies.
  • The folktales, myths, and legends that reflect a culture’s beliefs and values.

Between these adventures, Stage 1 students work independently to learn basic social studies concepts like family, community, early map skills, holidays—and relate them to their own experience and developing selves.

Becoming Historians (approx. ages 7-9)

In Stage 2, students have the necessary reading and writing skills to pursue the study of history, culture, and civilization in a more independent way. Within the framework of the seven continents, students delve into ancient civilizations—Egypt, Mesopotamia, Greece, India, China, the Mayans, Incas, and other former Native American peoples—with emphasis on comparisons and connections across time periods, cultures, and events.

They complete their first research reports, using level-appropriate resources, and apply to each topic what they are continuously learning about population, climate, agriculture, landforms, natural resources, imports/exports, government, religion, historical events and figures, and symbols like flags and monuments.

As students carry out their research projects, they gain experience in collecting, presenting, and summarizing information, and develop their written and oral communication skills, including the use of digital media. The topics students choose from the QPS social studies curriculum and the depth of their research stem from their interests and where they are within the progression of Stage 2.

Higher-order Research and Presentation (approx. ages 9-11)

In Stage 3, students engage in topics and activities to help them move to the next level in their writing (research-based and persuasive), research skills, project management ability, and thinking skills application. They learn about ancient societies, the Middle Ages, contemporary social movements, geopolitical conflicts and resolutions, resource scarcity, and how personal/religious beliefs impact advancements in science and technology. They also continue their studies of American history, spanning what we know about the life of indigenous peoples in the Americas through the Colonial Period, American Revolution, and Civil War. They work with primary and secondary sources, higher-level texts, and timelines and other infographics, and they initiate more complex independent projects. They present regularly so as to improve and gain confidence in their speaking skills. Throughout the year, students have regular current events assignments and discussions that tie into the main content themes.

Deeper Dives, Analysis, and Synthesis (approx. ages 11-14)

Beginning with the origins of humankind, students in Stage 4 investigate major periods in world history–the Stone, Iron, and Bronze Ages, the Middle Ages (esp. Middle Eastern societies), the spread of major religions, colonization and its effect, and twentieth-century civil rights issues (Apartheid in South Africa; U.S. civil rights movement). Within each, they devote attention to significant philosophical movements, economics and trade issues, technology, civics and systems of law, the environment, and other key aspects of human existence. Students also further their understanding of American history with readings, discussions, and writing projects on the impact that perceptions of humanity may have on U.S. government, laws, and social mores. Through regular current events assignments, they consider how many people are continuously reevaluating their views on what’s happening around them.