ACDS teachers regularly teach the Social Studies curriculum through interactive simulations, inquiry-based projects, field trips, and current events. The writing process is emphasized as a means to develop critical thinking skills, while technology is used as a tool to develop 21st century skills. Fundamental to the Social Studies curriculum at ACDS is the development of critical thinking, tolerance and respect for the self, community, and world, as well as cross-cultural understanding.
In kindergarten and first grade, social studies is taught through thematic units of study. Themes in kindergarten include the study of self, family and friends, feelings, social skills, winter and spring holiday customs celebrated by students in the class, and US presidents and famous people. In first grade, students focus on developing good citizenship, building community, biographies of famous people, Native Americans, holiday traditions of giving, world communities, Earth Day, and basic geography as it relates to each subject.
In second grade, students use Social Studies Alive! Our Community and Beyond to broaden their understanding of local and global communities and their responsibilities within these communities. Second grade students learn history, geography, map skills, economics, and civics through themes including apples, Colonial America, winter holidays, and American heroes. In third grade, students use the Social Studies Alive! Regions of our Country curriculum to explore the five regions of the United States through the lens of four social sciences–economics, geography, political science, and history. Lower School social studies culminates with a study of early American history in fourth grade using Social Studies Alive! America’s Past. Topics of study in fourth grade include geography, native peoples, colonialism, the Revolutionary War and the creation of government, the settling of the American West, and Industrial Revolution.
Using parts of History Alive! The Ancient World, the fifth grade focuses on ancient civilizations: Mesopotamia, Sumer, Egypt, China, Greece, and Rome. The sixth grade focuses on world religions and cultures. Topics include controlling ideas of culture, Hinduism, Buddhism, Judaism, and Islam. In seventh grade, the curriculum takes us from the Medieval world to the French Revolution with units on feudalism, the Byzantine Empire, the Crusades, the Renaissance, the Reformation, and the Enlightenment. Seventh graders also study West Africa and East Asia during the Medieval time period. The eighth grade focuses on American history from the Constitution to modern America. Topics covered include: the Constitution and Bill of Rights, the market and industrial economy from 1800-1860, the Civil War and Reconstruction, westward expansion, immigration from the 17th Century to the present, the Progressive Era, the Twenties and Great Depression, the Civil Rights Movement, the United States as a world power, and post WWII United States.