In kindergarten and the early grades, social studies consists of fairy tales from around the world and the mythologies of great cultures. In the middle school years, the emphasis shifts to map study, local and global geography, and the great sweep of ancient history up to modern times. By entering into major cultures through their mythology and literature, the students gain a profound appreciation for the diversity of the human experience. By the end of eighth grade, each child has been exposed to a broadening sphere of geographical and historical perspectives.
In grades one and two, social studies is begun through the stories in the language arts main lesson blocks. Descriptions of different peoples and places are brought to the children through vivid oral presentations of folk tales and nature stories, including the cultural heritages of their students. Reverence and care for the environment are threads carried throughout the curriculum of the early grades. In third grade, Hebrew Bible stories introduce a timeline for ancient history. Geography is introduced with the question of how human beings learn to live on the earth, how they shelter, clothe, and feed themselves, leading to the study of farming and the study of houses and house‐building.
Fourth graders learn local geography, and the students typically make a map of the classroom, their home, their city, and eventually the entire state. They also study the history of California, including Native American studies, Spanish explorers, the Gold Rush, and the ranchero period. Geography and science are often linked in the study of natural history. Fifth grade geography expands the horizons of the children from the state to the entire continental U.S. and the North American continent. The study of world history begins in fifth grade and continues chronologically through eighth grade. The ancient cultures of India, Persia, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and Ancient Greece are studied in one or two main lesson blocks.
Geography in the middle school years covers the world, with each class teacher choosing what regions to emphasize more closely. Often the sixth grade concentrates on Europe and the cultural areas around the Mediterranean. Seventh grade usually focuses on Latin and Mesoamerica, and the eighth grade takes a broad sweep over Africa and Asia. History in sixth grade begins with the story of The Aeneid and continues through the entire period of Ancient Rome and the Middle Ages in Europe and Asia. Seventh graders study the Age of the Renaissance and Exploration, and eighth grade traces the development of modern nations. Teachers in these grades use specially selected biographies to evoke historical themes and events, thus integrating social studies with language arts.