Easy to Use US History Curriculum for 5th to 8th Grade!
5th to 8th grade (middle school) US history curriculum that includes PROVEN, amazing, easy to use lesson plans and teaching resources aligned to Common Core and TEKS can be like searching for a unicorn flying through the sky!
Needless to say, on top of finding incredible U.S. history curriculum lessons, it can be equally as difficult to divide the United States of America's many important time periods into digestible US history units that flow seamlessly from one unit to the next.
A common theme in US history curriculum for 5th to 8th grade students is the study of early American history. From the colonial period, the Declaration of Independence, George Washington, the causes of the American Revolution, the Revolutionary War, the writing of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights and all the way up through to the Reconstruction Era. A good way to teach about these time periods is to use primary source documents in conjunction with well-curated presentations and student exercise assignments, which are supplemented by high-quality video lessons (via YouTube) and good books that provide detailed accounts of the events and people of this time period.
Consider the study of the colonial period, teachers may use primary source documents and historical sites to provide students with a more in-depth understanding of this time period. In particular, when it comes to the study of daily life in colonial America, figures such as Benjamin Franklin, Paul Revere, John Adams, and a slew of other prominent colonial figures are used to help students understand how life in America was very different back then.
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When it comes to teaching US history, there are many different resources and lesson plans available for teachers of 5th to 8th grade students. The use of primary sources is one of the most important aspects of teaching US history. From historical documents and artifacts to other materials that provide firsthand accounts of historical events that have occurred in the United States throughout its history. Students can gain a better understanding of the past and how it relates to the present by using primary sources.
The creation of our American government is yet another important component for any US history curriculum to include. The Constitutional Convention and the formation of the Constitution, as well as the Articles of Confederation, are all part of this. Teachers can provide students with a deeper understanding of this transformational period of our nation’s history by using primary source documents and historical sites.
The study of the Civil War era is another important aspect of US history curriculum and integral to the American story and a major focus for any grade level studying the United States history. Again, teachers can provide students with a deeper understanding of this time period by using primary source documents and historical sites. Furthermore, the study of African American history, including figures like Harriet Tubman and Frederick Douglass, as well as the impact of slavery on the nation, is crucial for this time period as well.
So, how in the world do you present students with curriculum that lines up and presents all of these vital time periods of American history in a way that makes sense for them?
Well, typically, you want to start with a comprehensive unit on Colonial America, followed by the American Revolution, the writing of the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. From there though is where it begins to get a bit tricky. However, I’ve found it best to follow up the U.S. Constitution unit with a unit that focuses on the study of the early formative years of our young America and covers topics like the presidency of Washington, the election of 1800, Marbury v. Madison, the Alien and Sedition Acts, the Louisiana Purchase, Lewis and Clark, and the War of 1812. This unit can easily be presented to students over the course of several weeks in a way that allows to learn about and comprehend these important historical topics in a sequential manner that makes sense to them. From there, I delve into the 1820s and 1830s and the Age of Jackson (Jacksonian Democracy). Main focuses for students in this unit include the "Spoils System", the "Corrupt Bargain", the Indian Removal Act and Trail of Tears, the Nullification Crises, etc. And as America was growing and transitioned into the Age of Jackson, Westward Expansion and the spirit of Manifest Destiny, as well as issues of sectionalism began transfixing the nation. And they’d continue to transfix the nation throughout the entirety of the first half of the 19th century, all the way up to the outbreak of the Civil War.
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How does one bundle and teach about these topics in a way that makes sequential sense to students?
By simply carving out the Westward Expansion topics into their own unit and follows the Age of Jackson unit. The spirit of Manifest Destiny, the Texas Revolution and annexation of Texas, the Mexican-American War, California Gold Rush, and the Oregon Trail, among others can be comprehensively covered and explored in its own unit. And when it comes to the many issues of sectionalism that gripped the nation throughout the first half of the 1800s, the same is done. Simply put the important numerous issues of sectionalism into their own unit. From the Northwest Ordinance, the Missouri Compromise, the Compromise of 1850, the Kansas-Nebraska Act, Dred Scott Case, the Underground Railroad, and so on. The sectionalism unit is then followed by a unit on the Civil War, and then a unit on the Reconstruction Era. Depending upon the grade level you’re teaching, covering Colonial America to the Reconstruction Era, may consume an entire school year, as is typical the case for 8th grade U.S. history. However, if you need to teach Colonial America through to modern-day America (such as 5th grade U.S. history for example), the breadth and depth of content will be much less and you’ll only be scraping the surface, so to speak, of the various historical time periods you’ll be covering with your students throughout the course of the school year.
There are many different ways to teach US history to 5th through 8th grade students. Teachers can provide students with a deeper understanding of the past and how it relates to the present by using immersive, well-thought-out curriculum that presents subject matter in a sequential manner amd incorporates the use of primary sources and good books. Also, by providing detailed lesson plans and teacher guides, teachers can ensure that students have a thorough understanding of the history of America.
When it comes to teaching US history, it is critical to have a comprehensive, full curriculum that covers all major historical events, figures and time periods for the grade level your teaching. A teacher guide, individual units, and answer keys can be of GREAT assistance to the teacher, and it is also important to include various methods of teaching the material, such as group work, role-playing, and other interactive activities.
Finally, the study of American history is an essential aspect of the education of middle school grade level students (grades 5 through 8). And, in particular, when it comes to eighth grade students, you want to make sure that you're providing them with U.S. history curriculum that best prepares them and sets them up for success as they progress into high school students and delve ever deeper into high school levels of study of U.S. history. With the use of primary sources in conjunction with immersive and engaging presentations and lesson plans, teachers can provide students with a deeper understanding of the past and how it relates to the present. Social studies teachers can ensure that their students have a comprehensive understanding of the history of America by combining the right resources with the right approach, so that teaching and learning about U.S. history can be an engaging and rewarding experience for both teacher and students.
If you're thinking there's no way I have time to create all of those resources or scour sites like Teachers pay Teachers every week to patch together a bunch of different resources from a bunch of different teacher authors - I HEAR YOU!!
I've been in your shoes and that's why I've built this website and created curriculum bundles exclusively for teachers like YOU. I've put my years of experience in the classroom and in various administrative roles, as well as my LOVE for ALL things history-related, so that I could proudly offer high-quality, easy-to-use, affordable and PROVEN history curriculum bundles.
Spending more time on teaching and less time on lesson plans. Having more time on nights and weekends to share with friends and loved ones, NOT lesson planning
Have a look at my curriculum bundles HERE!
I hope this article has provided you with some value. Thank you for reading!
-Jillian (a.k.a. the "Lesson Plan Guru")
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