An inquirED Blog

Exploration and Meaning Making: Social Studies in K-2 Classrooms

inquirED: States Go All in For Inquiry

Scroll to the bottom of the post to view the webinar recording.

What does inquiry in social studies look like in a kindergarten classroom? We were joined by Katie Spies (Teacher & Inquiry Advocate, Talbot County Public Schools), Natacha Scott (Director of Educator Engagement at iCivics) and Jillian Corr (Learning Experience Architect, inquirED) to get serious about social studies in the younger grades, looking at examples of high-quality instruction and classroom-tested strategies that build early learners' social studies knowledge and skills.


Classroom Spotlight: Kindergarten at Easton Elementary

Katie Spies, Talbot County Public Schools Teacher of the Year, has a powerful answer to those that say there's not enough time for social studies in K-2 classrooms: "We start our day with social studies – and teach it all day long." In Spies' Kindergarten classroom, ELA, math, science, and social-emotional learning are all folded into social studies. "Social studies can be the umbrella for your day" Spies shared, "students can make so many more connections when all their learning is integrated like that."

Essential Learning = Social Studies

Kindergarten Elementary Social Studies Curriculum Unit

Spies uses Inquiry Journeys, inquirED's elementary social studies curriculum, which connects social studies learning to the need of K-2 students to understand their school and community. "As Kindergarten students, you have to spend time getting to know your building and your classroom: the physical spaces," Spies said. The Navigating School unit of Inquiry Journeys helps students map out the physical spaces of their classroom and identify the important places in the school. They make a 3D map of their classroom, which Spies lays out on the floor with blocks. Students then set about navigating Spies through this map blindfolded!

Kindergarten Social Studies Inquiry

Spies also creates a unit-long display with students to help them visualize their learning and the important physical spaces of the school. "In the middle, we've put a picture of our school building," she shared, "and after brainstorming the important places in the school, we took pictures of them, and labeled them."

Beyond the physical spaces of their classroom and building, Spies also uses Inquiry Journeys to help students understand the people that are there to support them as they grow. In the Navigating School unit, students make a list