Wayne RESA

Social Studies 3
Wayne RESA – SS / Grade 3 / Social Studies / Social Studies 3 / No Teachers assigned.

Wayne RESA – SS / Grade 3 / Social Studies / Social Studies 3
Course Description:

Title: Michigan Studies
The third grade social studies curriculum introduces the history, geography, government, and economy of Michigan. Students learn about people and events from the past that have influenced the state in which they live. They study the geography of Michigan including the physical and cultural characteristics of different areas of the state. Using the context of their state, students explore human-environment interactions and their consequences. Using a geographic lens, students also examine the movement of people, products, and ideas across the state, and investigate how Michigan can be divided into distinct regions. Economic concepts are applied to the context of Michigan as students explore how Michiganians support themselves through the production, consumption, and distribution of goods and services. By studying economic ties between Michigan and other places, students discover how their state is an interdependent part of both the national and global economies. The purposes, structure, and functions of state government are introduced. Students explore the relationship between rights and responsibilities of citizens. They examine current issues facing Michigan residents and practice making and expressing informed decisions as citizens. Throughout the year, students locate, analyze, and present data pertaining to the state of Michigan.

Sequencing of Units within this Course

Careful thought has been given to the order in which the units are presented. Certain scaffolds have been created based on this order and schools should take care in moving units from their intended placement in the curriculum. The geography unit is strategically placed first in this course because the availability and types of natural resources has affected and continues to shape our economic and political decisions. Moreover, the geography of Michigan has huge implications for how Michigan developed and grew into a state. As a result, history, government, and civics units are deliberately placed at the end of the course so that students have an opportunity to revisit economic and geographic concepts by engaging in historical analysis and problem solving.


In order to sustain our democratic republic, students must be "aware of their changing cultural and physical environments; know the past; read, write, and think deeply; and act in ways that promote the common good." - C3 Framework, P. vii. Using the expanding environments model of social studies from kindergarten through grade 4, students apply historical, economic, geographic, and civic concepts to increasingly sophisticated social environments. Social studies in third grade develops skills essential in a participatory democracy by focusing on how children can respect the individual rights of others while advancing the common good. Students at this age need guidance to develop the practices of citizenship and to understand how diversity strengthens the groups to which they belong. As students move through elementary school, it is essential that they understand their social world and develop the academic vocabulary and cultural competencies that will enable them to be successful in later grades, as well as in career and civic life.


This curriculum is aligned to the Michigan Content Expectations as promulgated by the Michigan Department of Education and adopted by the State Board of Education in 2007. It is also aligned to the C3 Framework promulgated by the National Council for the Social Studies.

Third Grade SS Essential Understandings.docx
Unit Abstract
Compelling Question
Supporting Questions
Content (Key Concepts)
Skills (Intellectual Processes)
Unit Assessment Tasks
Lesson Plan Sequence
XUnit 1: The Geography of Michigan
(Week 1, 5 Weeks)

In this unit students use a geographic lens to explore the state of Michigan. The unit focuses around the five major themes of geography: movement, region, human/environment interaction, location and place (Mr. Help). Students begin by reviewing geographic concepts learned in second grade and then explore the concept of “state” using a map of the United States. In studying location, students use cardinal directions, identify various ways to describe the relative location of Michigan, and begin to explore how location can influence the development of a state. When studying place, students identify and describe significant human and physical characteristics of Michigan using a variety of maps. Through literature, maps, informational text and other resources students also explore the concept of human/environment interaction as they learn about Michigan’s natural resources and how people have used, modified, and adapted to them. In studying movement, an emphasis is placed on the Great Lakes. Using shipping as a launching point, students explore how and why people, goods, jobs and ideas move within, into and out of Michigan. Finally, students apply the concept of region to the study of Michigan as they explore different ways Michigan can be divided into regions as well as the different regions to which Michigan belongs. Through art or technology students demonstrate their understanding of Michigan’s geography.

How does the geography of Michigan affect the way people live?

  1. How can the five themes of geography be used to describe Michigan?
  2. How have people used, adapted to and modified the environment of Michigan?


Great Lakes

human/environment interaction




natural resources





XUnit 2: The Economy of Michigan
(Week 7, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students explore the principles and concepts of economics through the lens of Michigan today. Students use what they have learned in the previous unit about Michigan’s natural resources to explore how natural, human and capital resources combine to influence the types of businesses in our state today. Student then focus on the economic principles of scarcity, choice, and opportunity costs. Using a simulation model, students experience the impact of scarcity on their choices and the opportunity costs that result. In doing so, students are also introduced to the concept of incentives. They learn that people respond to incentives in predictable ways. Students then apply these principles to business decisions. After identifying Michigan’s current economic activities, students explain the reasons for their location. Using fruit as an example, students are introduced to how geography affects specialization and interdependence. The concept of interdependence exposes students to Michigan’s connection with the national and global economies. Finally, students explore the role of government with respect to goods, services, and incentives.

How have the geography and economy of Michigan shaped our past?

  1. What do people consider in deciding what to produce and consume in Michigan?
  2. How do scarcity and choice affect what is produced and consumed in Michigan?
  3. How is Michigan part of the national and global economies?

capital resources


economic activities

economic development



human resources





natural resources

productive resources

role of government




Cause and Effect

XUnit 3: The Early History of Michigan
(Week 13, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students use primary and secondary sources of information to explore the early history of Michigan. They begin by examining the work of historians and the types of questions they ask. Then, they apply historical thinking skills to a study of American Indians in Michigan, exploration and early settlement. The unit provides a strong link to geography as students analyze ways in which both American Indians and settlers used, adapted to, and modified the environment. Through stories and informational text, students examine Michigan’s past. Civics is naturally integrated as students explore how Michigan became a state. Throughout the unit, emphasis is placed on major historical concepts such as chronology, cause and effect, and point of view.

How have economics and the early history of Michigan influenced how Michigan grew?

  1. How do historians learn about the past?
  2. How did people and events influence the early history of Michigan?

cause and effect




human/environment interaction


primary sources

secondary sources



Cause and Effect
Point of View/Perspective

  • Chart paper
  • Globe
  • Highlighters
  • Magnifying glasses
  • Overhead Projector or Document Camera and Projector
  • Student journal or notebooks
  • 12” X 18” white drawing paper (one per student) or 12” X 18” brown construction paper (one per student)

XUnit 4: The Growth of Michigan
(Week 19, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students combine what they have previously learned about geography, economics, and the early history of Michigan to explore the growth of Michigan after statehood. The emphasis is on large-scale developments like the growth of manufacturing and population growth as opposed to specific historical eras and events. Students explore how natural resources such as fertile soil, trees, and minerals influenced certain businesses to take root in Michigan. By examining farming and the growth of manufacturing in Michigan, students further their understanding of ways in which people put natural resources to work. They also explore how industries led to the growth of towns and cities. Particular focus is placed on the significant role of the automobile industry in Michigan as a case study of entrepreneurship and role of geography in the growth of Michigan’s cities and towns. Students then explore push and pull factors of migration that led to population growth in Michigan and how different cultural groups have created unique regions within the state. Finally, students examine recent population trends in the state and explain the trends by applying geographic, economic, and historical concepts.

How did people in Michigan work together to meet new challenges as Michigan grew?

  1. How has Michigan changed over time?
  2. How have Michigan's resources impacted the economy and growth of the state?


agriculture and manufacturing

auto industry

automobile industry

economic trends


human/environment interaction

human migration



natural resources


push/pull factors

Cause and Effect

XUnit 5: The Government of Michigan
(Week 25, 7 Weeks)

In this unit students extend their civic perspective from second grade local government to state government. They begin with an examination of the purposes of government and ways in which the government of Michigan works to fulfill those purposes. By exploring the concept of representative government, students learn how the power of government resides with the people. They build upon their knowledge of local government and community by distinguishing the roles of state government from local government and explore why state governments are needed. By learning about the Michigan Constitution, students are introduced to the concept of limited government and the history of Michigan’s Constitution. An understanding of limited government is further enriched through an exploration of how the powers of government are separated among the branches in state government. Students then explore the judicial branch by examining ways courts function to resolve conflict. Finally, students consider important rights and responsibilities of citizenship including the responsibility to be informed about public issues.

How has the government in Michigan responded to the needs of people as Michigan has grown?

  1. Why do the people in the state of Michigan need a government?
  2. How is our state government organized?
  3. What are some important rights and responsibilities of Michigan citizens?


executive branch


judicial branch

legislative branch

levels of government

limited government


public issues

representative government

responsibilities of citizenship

rights of citizens


XUnit 6: Public Issues Facing Michigan Citizens
(Week 32, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students examine public issues relating to Michigan. The unit begins with an examination of the responsibilities of citizenship as students learn that one key civic responsibility is being informed about matters of public concern. Student explore a variety of public issues in the local community, identifying various points of view, and applying core democratic values to support their positions (e.g., “Should a school ban the use of scooters on school grounds?,” or “Should a community tear down an historic barn in order to build a homeless shelter?”). Next, using a variety of resources including newspapers and Web sites, students identify current public issues in Michigan. After analyzing why these are public issues, they pose the policy issues as questions (e.g., “Should the state of Michigan provide funds for a rapid transit system in metropolitan Detroit?” or “Should Michigan establish a network of waterways and greenbelts?”). Students then address a public issue as a class with guidance by the teacher. They gather background information regarding the origin of the issue. Meeting in small groups students discuss various viewpoints on the issue and ultimately express a reasoned position on it by writing a short persuasive essay. The unit concludes with students applying the steps of responsible citizenship by choosing a public issue in Michigan to investigate and writing a persuasive essay that supports their position on the issue.

How do state and national governments work to solve problems citizens face?

  1. How do responsible citizens resolve statewide problems?
  2. How do people learn about public issue in our state?
  3. Why do people disagree about the ways to solve problems facing people in Michigan?

core democratic values

informed decision


point of view

public issue

responsibilities of citizenship