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An inquirED Blog

1st Grade Social Studies Curriculum: Why are traditions important?

Updated: Oct 21, 2020



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

Why are traditions important?

1st-grade social studies students explore a variety of family traditions and develop an inclusive definition of “tradition” as a class. They reflect upon and appreciate their own unique family traditions, and explore how traditions connect us to family, past and present. Objectives include:

  • Identify and describe traditions

  • Analyze evidence from multiple sources

  • Describe and reflect on their own family traditions

  • Explain how family traditions can help us understand and stay connected to our families, cultures, and communities


Lesson 1: Identifying Traditions

1st-grade social studies students begin an investigation of traditions, learning that they can be simple or complex, and can vary among families. They read the picture book Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold and share their own family traditions.

Lesson 2: Special Items and Traditions 1st-grade social studies students explore how different kinds of family traditions can keep us connected to past generations and events as they expand their investigation into the importance of traditions. They read The Keeping Quilt by Patricia Polacco, watch a short video in which the author speaks about the real Keeping Quilt in her family, and consider how traditions in their own lives connect them to history.

  • Watch a video from Patricia Polacco describing The Keeping Quilt.

Lesson 3: Food Traditions 1st-grade social studies students explore how family traditions can help us stay connected to, better understand, and appreciate our unique families, cultures, and communities. They read Apple Pie 4th of July by Janet S. Wong, in which the main character thinks her parents don’t understand an American holiday, but ends up learning a surprising lesson herself. Present these guiding questions before reading:

  • Present these guiding questions before reading: What are the main character’s family traditions? How do family traditions keep the main character and her family connected to their culture or community?

  • After reading, discuss the guiding questions in addition to these prompts: Where is the narrator’s family from?  What are some of their family traditions? What is the narrator frustrated by?  What happens at the end of the story? How does this change the way the narrator thinks about her family or culture? What do you think the narrator learns from this experience? 

Lesson 4: Reflecting on Our Own Traditions 1st-grade social studies students reflect upon their learning throughout the exploration of this Essential Question and explain why traditions are important. They each create a “My Family Tradition Quilt Square,” inspired by Faith Ringgold’s story quilts, that describes a tradition and explains why it is important.