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An inquirED Blog

1st Grade Social Studies Curriculum: Families Near and Far Unit Launch

Updated: Oct 21, 2020


Courtesy of Allison Shelley/The Verbatim Agency for American Education: Images of Teachers and Students in Action.

This blog post is one in a series that breaks down one unit from each grade level of Inquiry Journeys, inquirED's core elementary social studies curriculum. For a trial account containing all lessons for the unit, click below.


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1st Grade Social Studies Curriculum Unit Launch:

Families Near and Far

A family can take many forms; there’s no single definition. During this unit, 1st-grade social studies students work together to build an understanding of family that is inclusive while identifying the various roles and responsibilities that contribute to a family structure. They explore what makes their family unique as they develop a mindset of curiosity and appreciation for differences they may encounter among different families and cultures.


Unit Launch


The Unit Launch is designed to hook students into the inquiry process through an engaging, thought-provoking activity. The Inquiry Question is introduced and students’ initial Investigation Questions begin to surface. There is no pre-teaching required to start students on their inquiry journey.


Over the course of the unit, students will complete “Quilt Squares” (approximately 8x8” each) which will be arranged side-by-side, as space permits, in a quilt formation. Its size and shape will depend on the number of students in your class and how many works per student you choose to include; be sure to include work from all students, but it’s not necessary that every student’s work from every assignment be displayed; if space is tight, aim for 2 works per student by the end of the unit.


Lesson 1: Hook Activity: Unique Individuals, Unique Families

1st-grade social studies students are introduced to the unit-long challenge to bring families together to strengthen their community. They read Hey, Wall by Susan Verde for inspiration and examine how the families in the story work together. Read Hey, Wall and discuss:

  • What was the main problem with the wall?

  • How did people from different families in the community work to change the wall?

  • What does it look like, sound like, or feel like when family and friends are together in the story?

  • Tell what each of these people did: The boy, James and Danny, Grandma Addy, Friends, family, and neighbors

  • How did the boy and the wall bring different families together to form a stronger community?


Lesson 2: Generating Investigation Questions CORE

1st-grade social studies students are introduced to a modified version of the Question Formulation Technique (QFT) to generate Investigation Questions that will guide their exploration of different families.