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Elementary School | Social Studies | Geography

Understand world geography and the effects of geography on society, with an emphasis on the United States. The need for geographic literacy has never been greater or more obvious than in today's tightly interrelated world. Students must understand the world's physical features, how they blend with social systems and how they affect economies, politics and human interaction. Isolated geographic facts are not enough. To grasp geography and its effect on individuals and societies, students must know the broad concepts of spatial patterns, mapping, population and physical systems (land, air, water). The combination of geographic facts and broad concepts provides a deeper understanding of geography and its effects on individuals and societies.

Learning Objectives Grades K-2

Locate, describe and explain places, regions and features on the Earth:

  • Identify physical characteristics of places, both local and global (e.g., locations, roads, regions, bodies of water).
  • Identify the characteristics and purposes of geographic representations including maps, globes, graphs, photographs, software, digital images and be able to locate specific places using each.

Analyze and explain characteristics and interactions of the Earth’s physical systems:

  • Identify components of the Earth’s physical systems.
  • Describe physical components of ecosystems.

Understand relationships between geographic factors and society:

  • Identify ways people depend on and interact with the physical environment (e.g., farming, fishing, hydroelectric power).
  • Identify opportunities and constraints of the physical environment.
  • Explain the difference between renewable and nonrenewable resources.

Understand the historical significance of geography:

  • Identify changes in geographic characteristics of a local region (e.g., town, community).

Learning Objectives Grades 3-5

Locate, describe and explain places, regions and features on the Earth:

  • Compare the physical characteristics of places including soils, land forms, vegetation, wildlife, climate, natural hazards.
  • Use maps and other geographic representations and instruments to gather information about people, places and environments.

Analyze and explain characteristics and interactions of the Earth’s physical systems:

  • Describe how physical and human processes shape spatial patterns including erosion, agriculture and settlement.
  • Explain how physical and living components interact in a variety of ecosystems including desert, prairie, flood plain, forest, tundra.

Understand relationships between geographic factors and society:

  • Describe how natural events in the physical environment affect human activities.
  • Describe the relationships among location of resources, population distribution and economic activities (e.g., transportation, trade, communications).
  • Explain how human activity affects the environment.

Understand the historical significance of geography:

  • Describe how physical characteristics of places influence people’s perceptions and their roles in the world over time.
  • Identify different settlement patterns in the United States and relate them to physical features and resources.

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The Curriculum

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