The most exciting way to learn and enjoy history and geography is for children to experience it. Reading about history and gathering facts alone do not create a lasting impression. When teaching Chinese history at Seven Arrows, for example, mathematics, science, reading, writing, the arts, and even sports are integrated into the unit to present students with the entirety of the culture in question. Children may read colorful Chinese myths and stories, write characters and paint with bamboo brushes, engage in Tai Chi while learning that since ancient times, the Chinese have believed that exercising and eating herbs promote good health. Furthermore, students may replicate art and dress while celebrating the Chinese New Year with music, acrobats and a dragon dance, and even be treated to a feast of typical Chinese fare! We understand that the most powerful and generative learning takes place when students are immersed in intellectual and creative work, rather than simply observing it.
In kindergarten, themes begin small and move globally while naturally integrating science themes. Kindergarteners begin by sharing about themselves then move to learning about community. From family community and classroom community, students move on to the Stone Age community. The theme of community then seamlessly takes them to their next GCH strand, Children Around the World, where students explore the cultures and traditions of different communities throughout the world through the eyes of children.
The first graders study ancient Egypt, China, Greece, Rome, and India through stories, mythology, and fairytales.
Second graders delve into ancient American civilizations including the Mayans, Aztecs, Incas, and the native North American tribes. Then they study the arrival of the Spaniards to America, and how the colonization had differences and similarities to other colonization endeavors that took place on the continent.
Third grade begins the year with a geography unit focused on strengthening mapping skills, then moves on to the study of the Middle Ages including medieval England and feudal Japan.
In the fourth grade, students begin the year studying California history including the Gold Rush, the Pioneers, railroads, and influential people, places, and events in the state’s past and present. Students revisit ancient Latin American civilizations in fourth grade and study the Spanish conquest and the Vikings in America. Finally, they undertake an in-depth study of the Renaissance and the creative explosion that brought along new ways of thinking and seeing the world.
Building a foundation for further learning of American History by focusing on this country’s beginnings, fifth graders analyze the reasons for colonization in North America and study life in the colonies from the perspective of individuals who lived there. They examine the relationship between the colonies and England, the causes of the American Revolution, and the documents that helped shape the nation. Slavery, the Industrial Revolution, and westward expansion bring students up to the Civil War, where they utilize a variety of materials for learning, including a text, history magazines, role-playing, writing, historical fiction, and research.
Finally, sixth grade focuses on how to think critically and answer questions about the continuity of the human experience. Starting with archaeology and paleontology studies in Africa, students move on to the analysis the Roman and Greek civilizations. As students examine social, economic, and political institutions, they analyze similarities and differences among these societies. While concepts are drawn from history and the social sciences, the primary discipline is geography, especially cultural geography. This focus provides students with a framework for studying local, regional, national, and global issues that concern them, for understanding the interdependence of the world in which they live, and for making informed judgments as active citizens.