Social Studies

The social studies curriculum is the common thread that runs through the entire educational program at MCS. The study of our shared humanity is at the core of our work with children. Social studies curriculum draws on every classroom activity and discipline, and students learn about the world through a rich mix of resources and experiences. The research curriculum helps students learn how to find, evaluate, and synthesize information, beginning with the 4-5s Home Visits and culminating in an analytical research paper in the 7th and 8th grades.
4-5s: Ourselves and Our Homes
Social studies is the centerpiece of the 4-5s curriculum. There are three main studies throughout the year - the Animal Study, the Baby Study, and Home Visits. Children are supported to observe, ask questions, and learn about themselves and others. The animal and baby studies are a deep dive and reflection of what is needed to take care of something in order for it to grow. As the 4-5s continue to build upon their growing social relationships, the spring Home Visit Study begins which allows students to expand their understanding of the world from a very personal perspective. As they strategically visit each other’s homes, the 4-5s learn more about each other and how they are alike and different, which is the basis for all current and future diversity, equity, and justice work. Acting as social scientists, they examine their neighborhoods, geography, and types of transportation in New York City through their travels. Children learn about the importance of stories - how to tell their own story and how to listen to the stories of others.

5-6s: Our School and Our Community
The central study in the 5-6s is the School Study. After continuing to learn about themselves and their classroom community, students branch out to study their school and begin to understand their role as a member of a larger community. Students take trips around the school and interview community members about how they do their jobs. Disciplines are integrated as children count the number of stairs in the building, write the story of how lunch makes its way to the classroom, and map shared spaces. Their understandings are then reflected and recreated in their classroom through mapping, art projects, writing assignments, and verbal conversation. Students role-play, tell stories, participate in building activities, and have reflective discussions to strengthen and practice their social and emotional skills. The goal is to learn about the interconnectedness of various jobs and to learn more about the people who help our school function as a community. 

6-7s: Communities of Workers and Our School’s Neighborhood
Six and seven-year-olds are ready and eager to investigate the world around them. The social studies program focuses on how communities of workers provide services and share responsibilities. Throughout the year, this study includes writing, discussions, literature, and art projects. The 6-7s take impressionistic walks and go on field trips, to further explore and understand the essential workers in the neighborhood community and NYC. The 6-7s participate in discussions and projects to show their understanding of concepts and, ultimately, put their knowledge into use as they run a school post office and create a bird museum.

7-8s: Our Families and Our City
The 7-8s’ social studies curriculum aims to develop skills in inquiry and research through the Family Study and the study of New York City. These studies happen concurrently and begin through the gathering of information through first-hand experience in the classroom, students’ homes, and in the larger NYC community. The studies extend this knowledge by challenging the students to investigate recent history and explore experiences beyond their own daily lives. As students reflect upon their perspectives and gain exposure to multiple perspectives through classroom dialogue and activity, students are expected to seek out and draw connections between ideas, experiences, and facts. Throughout the year, children express their discoveries about themselves and the world around them through dialogue, writing, dramatic play, and art, and take countless trips around NYC.

8-9s: History of the Land: Indigenous People and New Amsterdam
The 8-9s social studies program delves into a study of history, separate from the history of the students’ own families. In the fall, the 8-9s use maps to explore the geography of New York City and New York State. Then they move into the study of the Indigenous people of New York, specifically the Haudenosaunee. The 8-9s start with a discussion of the elements that make up a culture, as well as a discussion about human beings’ wants and needs. The 8-9s then dive into learning about how the Haudenosaunee lived long ago. They look closely at how the environment shaped their daily lives and cultural practices long ago and study how Native peoples are living today. This hands-on study enables the 8-9s to see the diversity among Native American cultures and to appreciate the significance of living on Indigenous land.
In the spring, the 8-9s engage with the origin stories of the Lenape people, and imagine what life on the island of Manhattan was like for the Lenape before the arrival of Europeans. Students use their growing critical thinking skills to compare and contrast the cultures and lifestyles of the Haudenosaunee and the Lenape people long ago. In the final part of the year, the 8-9s will study how encounters with Europeans in the 1500s and 1600s impacted Indigenous people, including the founding of the Dutch city of New Amsterdam. The 8-9s also reflect on how these issues continue to affect the Native people of New York today.

Through the social studies curriculum, the 8-9s are growing to understand and appreciate many cultures, to see similarities and differences, and to understand how history looks different depending on who is telling the story. 
9-10s: Understanding Immigration and the Cultural Diversity of the United States
The 9-10s explore the experiences of the many people who have come to the United States, from both historical and contemporary perspectives. They record oral histories of both citizens and immigrants in process. The experiences that they share with us will deepen the 9-10s understanding of the issues involved in immigration. Why do people leave their homes? Why do they come to the United States? Is it always by choice? How do they get here? What do they expect and what do they find? Do they choose to become naturalized citizens, why or why not? How do they balance the cultures of their home countries with their new lives? What is the history of immigration in the United States? 

Later in the year, students compare the experiences of voluntary immigrants to those of enslaved Africans. What were the experiences of enslaved Africans in New York? How did they work to maintain their home cultures while enslaved? In what ways have newcomers to the United States influenced the culture of their descendants today? 

Students also explore New York City as a place with a rich history of immigration, as well as a city where new immigrants arrive each day. They investigate the language, music, food, and other customs that reveal the cultures of people who have immigrated here. 9-10s students visit Ellis Island, the Lower East Side Tenement Museum, the Eldridge Street Synagogue, the Museum of Chinese in America, and the African Burial Ground. Throughout the curriculum, field trips, library research, interviews, dramatizations, and weekly discussions of current events enrich their learning. Current events provide the 9- 10s with opportunities to share articles of interest to them and lead discussions with their peers.

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