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An inquirED Blog

1st Grade Social Studies Curriculum: How are families similar and different?

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 Essential Question:

How are families similar and different?

1st-grade social studies students explore and appreciate different ways to be a family. They compare and contrast in order to find common ground with one another and identify what makes their families unique. Objectives include:

  • Describe how families are similar and different

  • Represent their own family in words and images

  • Recognize and appreciate that there are many different ways to be a family


Lesson 1: Exploring Family Structures

1st-grade social studies students begin to explore and appreciate different family structures, as well as celebrate their own unique family structure. They read the book Who’s in a Family? by Robert Skutch to inform their discussion and inspire representations of their own families.

  • Preview the cover and title of the book and ask students to make predictions of what the book might be about. 

  • Encourage students to support their predictions with evidence from the title or cover. 

  • Present the guiding questions for students to consider while you read: What is the main idea of this book? Is there a family in this book that reminds you of your own?  Is there a family in this book that is different from your own?  

  • Read the book, then prompt students to turn to a Shoulder Partner to respond to the guiding questions.

Lesson 2: Comparing and Contrasting Families

1st-grade social studies students continue to find common ground with one another and identify what makes their families unique. They practice their compare and contrast skills while reading Families Around the World by Margriet Ruurs to identify similarities and differences.

  • Preview the cover and title of the book and ask students to make predictions of what the book might be about. Encourage students to support their prediction with evidence from the title or cover. 

  • Explain that students will compare their own lives and experiences to the families in the book.

  • Present the guiding questions for students to consider while you read: How are families in this book similar to your own?  How are families in this book different from your own? How are the families in this book similar to each other? What evidence can you see in the images that gives you clues?

Lesson 3: My Family Is Special

1st-grade social studies reflect upon their learning throughout the exploration of this module and share what makes their families special. They each complete a “My Family Is Special Quilt Square” – inspired by Faith Ringgold’s story quilts – that describes, illustrates, and celebrates their unique family. Project the Tar Beach image and prompt students:

  • Ask: What do you see in this painting? (Make sure students are stating concrete observations, not interpretations.)

  • Ask: What does this image make you think? What makes you say that? (Inter