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First-grade appropriate lessons

Symbols of the U.S.

What are some important symbols of the United States? Why are they important? Download Primary Source Set: American Symbols

First-grade students deepen their understanding of national identity and cultural literacy by learning about national and state symbols (Standard 1.3). Students learn to recite the Pledge of Allegiance and sing songs that express American ideals (e.g., “You’re a Grand Old Flag”).

Schools Over Time


How is our life different from those who lived in the past, and how is it the same? Download Primary Source Set: Schools Over Time 

This inquiry set explores continuity and change with first graders using the topic of schools. First graders have direct experiential knowledge of schools today, which can help them learn about the differences and similarities of schools in the past.

Many People One Nation

How do many different people make one nation? Download Primary Source Set: Many People One Nation

Students will learn and discuss the multiple cultures and peoples that historically have contributed to the creation and growth of the United States. Immigration and migration of native peoples, African Americans, European, and (Southeast, East, South) Asian immigrants and Asian Americans that have helped to develop American culture, economies, and their local landscapes are shown in this inquiry set.

What is My Community Like?

What is our community like? Download Primary Source Set: What is My Community Like

There are many parts of a student’s community and neighborhood that a student can learn to recognize, point out, and relate to when looking at past Californian communities. In this inquiry set, students will analyze and address how and why communities change over time and what commonalities their own communities share with previous towns and cities.

Costs and Consequences

What have been the costs of the decisions of people in the past? Download Primary Source Set: Costs and Consequences

This inquiry set can be used to explore the ways in which people chose to harvest the redwoods throughout the nineteenth century. The set’s investigative question — What have been the costs (consequences) of the decisions of people in the past?— can be used to guide students through the images to understand what some of the costs are of choosing to log or preserve redwoods.

Life Now vs. Life Long Ago

How is our life different from those who lived in the past and how is it the same? Download Primary Source Set: Life Now vs. Life Long Ago

The focus is to compare different times and different places and how certain aspects of life change over time while some things stay the same. Schools, communities, and transportation of the past provide areas of study that students are familiar with in the present.

Economic Costs and Consequences

Students may continue their development of analytical skills by identifying the costs of their decisions. They should recognize that a cost is what is given up in gaining something. This fits with the economic concept of exchange. When students trade, they gain something, but they also give up something. What they give up is the cost of the choice. It should be emphasized that each choice has a cost (a simple example is the story of the Three Little Pigs, where two of the pigs give up safety for play)

Class Room and School Rules

What are classroom and school rules? How were they developed? Who is responsible for enforcing the rules? Download the Primary Source Set: School Rules

This first-grade inquiry set provides images from the past to help students address the concept and practice of school rules. These questions guide the inquiry set and the activities that help students make connections between themselves and their classrooms today and in the past: What are class and school rules? How were they developed?