Social Studies

Learn from the past, live in the present, plan for the future.


Social Studies Overview


This year, students will be learning all about Chicago!  Here is an overview of the four units students will explore this year:


Unit 1: Before Chicago

In this unit, students will explore the early history of the area that became known as Chicago and how it became a settlement. They will investigate the Native American tribes that were its inhabitants and the explorers that were sent from other countries to claim the land. Students will learn how these early settlements developed and grew into the city of Chicago. 

Unit 2: How Chicago Came to Be

During this quarter, students will trace Chicago's development from its earliest development as a town of 350 people to its growth as a major city. The unit emphasizes the origins of the city, the city's changing design, and the people and industries that have sustained the city. Students will determine the importance of various historical, social, and economic events that were instrumental in Chicago's growth and development. 

Unit 3: Chicago Today

In this unit, students will be able to make connections between Chicago's history and the Chicago of today. They will be able to define and describe Chicago through its various communities and people, businesses, services, politics, landmarks, arts, and entertainment. 

Unit 4: Chicago & Other National Cities

In this final unit of the year, students will first view Chicago in respect to other major U.S. cities (such as New York, Boston, Los Angeles, Houston, Miami, Atlanta, and San Francisco).  Features for comparison for cities include historic interests, geographical boundaries, business and industry, culture and environment, and political systems.  Students’ final culminating assignment will be writing a compare/contrast article comparing both cities. 

What's Happening in the News Assignment

Each quarter, your child will be a completing a "What's Happening in the News" assignment. Students will select a current events news article and then read to discover the "Who, What, Where, When, and Why" of that article. They will use key ideas from these questions to develop a summary of the event. After completing the assignment your child will then present the information to the class. When presenting, students will summarize what they have read, and also share what the possible effects from the event may be. Students will not only practice their researching and public speaking skills, but will also discover the importance of current events! 

Parents and Big Questions

Parental involvement will be key this school year. This involvement is very important to your third graders intellectual and personal development. There will be many opportunities throughout the year for you to support your third grader’s learning. After all, social studies is not just about facts and dates; it’s about people – what they need, how they interact, how they solve their conflicts, and what they want for themselves and for others. These are issues you concern yourselves with as a family every day.


Here is a breakdown of the “Big Questions” students will explore this year throughout the five areas of social studies:



  • Who were the Native American groups that lived in early Chicago? What did they contribute to the growth of Chicago as a town?

  • What historical and cultural events were key to Chicago becoming a city?

  • How did important historical events contribute to Chicago's growth as a major city?



  • How can we use maps to learn about Chicago's history? What can we learn?

  • How can maps help us understand how Chicago grew as a city?

  • How did changes in Chicago's environment and geographical features affect the lives of people who lived there?

  • How are Chicago's geographical features both a benefit and a challenge when compared to other large world cities?


Politics & Civics

  • Who governs Chicago and how? How does our government decide to meet the needs and wants of its citizens?

  • How are the needs and wants of the people heard in city government?

  • Why should Chicagoans participate in community work?

  • How do Chicagoans participate in developing their city?



  • How do political, social, and cultural factors influence a city's growth and development?

  • What resources and goods and services are produced in Chicago? What is the role of money, credit, banking, and budgeting in Chicago business and in the lives of its people?

  • How has big business impacted Chicago's growth over the years?


Identity & Culture

  • What artifacts tell us information about how early inhabitants of Chicago lived?

  • How did people from different locations come together to help Chicago's growth as a city?

  • What is the same and what is different among the various cultural groups in Chicago? What contributions have various cultures made to the city of Chicago?

  • What are some of the major social and culture events in Chicago? Why do they appeal to so many people across the country and the world?


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