Wayne RESA
Wayne RESA – SS > Grade 5 > Social Studies > Social Studies 5
Course Description:
Unit Abstract
Compelling Question
Supporting Questions
Content (Key Concepts)
Skills (Intellectual Processes)
Unit Assessment Tasks
Lesson Plan Sequence
XUnit 1: Our Government
(Week 1, 3 Weeks)

This unit provides students with an opportunity to review essential civics and government concepts learned in previous grades. It also establishes a common foundation that sets the stage for deeper discussions about government throughout the year as students explore the question: Why is the federal government organized to give and to limit power? Students begin by examining what life would be like in the absence of government and hypothesize about the reasons people form governments. Next, students review core democratic values and principles upon which our government is based and investigate how they are rooted in the organization of the federal government. In doing so, concepts such as limited government, popular sovereignty, rule of law, and individual rights are stressed. Students analyze and explain how the Preamble to the Constitution reflects the purposes of government and explore other parts of the Constitution for evidence of federalism, limited government, and individual rights. In learning about federalism, students compare the powers delegated to the federal government and those reserved to the states (or the people). Contemporary examples of government in action are used throughout the unit. Moreover, this unit provides teachers with the opportunity to connect classroom rules with ideas about government, including why people form governments, what happens without rules or laws, and the importance of the rule of law. Finally, this unit allows for a seamless connection to Constitution Day, which is required by federal law.

Why is the federal government organized to give and to limit power?

  1. Why do we have both state and federal governments?
  2. How are core democratic values and constitutional principles reflected in our government?
  3. How is our government organized to give and to limit power?

checks and balances




individual rights

limited government

popular sovereignty

purposes of government

rule of law

separation of powers



  • Chart paper
  • Construction paper
  • Glue or Tape
  • Highlighters
  • Markers or crayons
  • Overhead projector or document camera and projector
  • Scissors, Spiral notebooks or a folder with paper, one per student

XUnit 2: Three Worlds Meet
(Week 4, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students study early American History with a focus on the period prior to 1585.  Starting with the art of historical thinking, students review the questions historians ask in examining the past. After they reconsider the tools historians use (primary and secondary sources, artifacts), they explore their textbook as a type of secondary source.  In doing so, students examine text structures, text features, and the role of informational text in learning about the past.  This unit takes a separate examination of life in America, Africa, and Europe in order to set the stage for the convergence of these three worlds in America.  This approach prepares students to understand the exchanges and conflicts that resulted from the convergence of three distinct peoples in America.  Accordingly, students begin their study with America, using a geographic lens to identify major American Indian cultural groups and compare how people living in different geographic regions adapted to and modified their environments prior to the arrival of Europeans.  Students take an in-depth examination into the life and culture of Eastern Woodland American Indians.  Students then shift their focus to the continent of Africa.  In learning about how people lived in western Africa before the 16th century, students create a foundation for examining how the meeting of the three worlds affected people from this continent.  Next, students turn to Europe as global exploration began.  They analyze the goals, motivations, and developments that made sea exploration possible through case studies of various explorers.  Students explore the convergence of Europeans, American Indians, and Africans in North America after 1492.  In considering the Columbian Exchange, students describe the widespread movement of plants, animals, foods, communicable diseases, ideas, human populations, and goods, and how human societies were affected.  Finally, students analyze the consequences of the encounters and exchanges among these three worlds and how people from each continent viewed the convergence.


How did the interaction of three worlds transform human societies?

  1. How were the worlds of America, Africa, and Europe alike and different?
  2. How and why did the three worlds meet?
  3. How did Europeans, American Indians, and Africans view the meeting of their three worlds?

cause and effect


Columbian Exchange

cultural diffusion




historical thinking

human/environment interaction

informational text

perspective/point of view


three worlds

  • An example of narrative text such as a story picture book or a chapter book
  • Chart paper
  • Crayons or markers (six different colors)
  • Colored Pencils, Crayons or markers: blue, yellow, green, brown (for each student)
  • Globe
  • Highlighters – at least two per pair of students in different colors
  • Map of North America
  • Overhead projector or document camera/projector
  • Salt and a piece of gold jewelry (optional)
  • Scissors
  • Small amount of peppercorns (one per student) and a peppercorn container
  • Sticky notes
  • Student journal or notebook
  • White construction paper
  • World Map

XUnit 3: Colonization and Settlement
(Week 10, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students examine the causes and consequences of European settlement in North America during the seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries. Throughout the unit, students use primary and secondary sources to examine how Europeans adapted to life in North America. Students begin the unit by exploring the reasons for European colonization and identifying the push and pull factors that caused people to migrate to the New World. Students next examine a variety of early settlements such as Roanoke, New Amsterdam, Jamestown, and Plymouth. In doing so, students explore how the reasons for migration and the physical geography of the New World influenced patterns of early colonial settlements and their development. Students explore the three distinct colonial regions: New England, Middle, and Southern colonies. They investigate significant developments in each colonial region, focusing on political institutions and economic activities. For example, in studying the growth political institutions, students explore the Mayflower Compact, colonial representative assemblies, the establishment of town meetings, and growth of royal government. Emphasis is also placed on the economic development of each region, including the establishment of staple-crop agricultural economies in the south and the growth of manufacturing and small farms in New England. Students also consider how regional economic differences influenced the use of slave labor in different colonial regions. In exploring the relationships between the European settlers and American Indians, students compare how the British and French differed in their interactions with indigenous peoples. In considering the Dutch settlements in New Netherlands, Quaker settlement in Pennsylvania, and the subsequent English takeover of the Middle colonies, students analyze immigration patterns that led to ethnic diversity. Students also assess the role of religion when exploring each colonial region. Throughout the unit, students gather and evaluate evidence to answer the question: Why did different colonial regions develop in North America?


Why did different colonial regions develop in North America?


  1. How did the push and pull factors of migration influence the settlement of different colonial regions in North America?
  2. How did the geography of North America affect settlement patterns and the economic, political, and cultural development of different colonial regions?
  3. How did cultural differences and similarities between Europeans and American Indians influence their interactions?

cause and effect

colonial regions


cultural differences

diversified economy

economic development

ethnic diversity


one-crop economies/ staple-crops

political institutions

primary and secondary sources

representative government

role of religion


settlement patterns




  • 12 X18 drawing paper for constructing the graphic organizer used for assessment
  • Chart paper
  • Color Markers for highlighting – two different colors for each student
  • Glue or glue sticks
  • Map of the Western Hemisphere
  • Overhead Projector or Document Camera and Projector
  • Scissors
  • White construction paper
  • World Map

XUnit 4: Life in Colonial America
(Week 16, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students examine the economic and political developments in the colonies prior to the end of the French and Indian War and assess how these developments affected life in the colonies. After reviewing the three colonial regions, students focus on the economic attributes of the colonies. They take an in-depth look at the Triangular Trade routes, including the Middle Passage, and its consequence for both continents. Students then explore the colonial labor force, noting differences between the New England and Southern colonies, and comparing the life of enslaved Africans and free Africans in the American colonies. Emphasis is placed on the effect of “one-crop economies” (plantation grown staple crops) in the south, and its influence on various groups of people and daily life in the Southern colonies. Students then shift their focus to New England and the Middle colonies, examining the diversity of economic activities and its affect on daily life in each region. Next, students investigate how colonial political experiences during the first half of the 18th Century influenced colonists’ views of their political rights and responsibilities. In doing so, they explore the shift of power from royal appointed governors to colonial representative assemblies and their influences on colonial life. Throughout the unit, students consider life in the British colonies from the perspectives of different groups of people including women, wealthy landowners, indentured servants, American Indians, free Africans, and enslaved Africans. Students explore how Africans living in North America drew upon their African past and adapted elements of new cultures to develop a distinct African-American culture. By the end of the unit, students construct generalizations about the reasons for regional differences in colonial America.

How did life in the three colonial regions set the stage for colonists to join in the cause for independence?

  1. How did economic activities contribute to the significant differences among the colonial regions?
  2. How did colonial political experiences influence how colonists viewed their rights and responsibilities?
  3. How did the institution of slavery affect colonial development and life in the colonies?

African-American culture

colonial self-government

economic activities


indentured servants

labor force

point of view/perspective

regional differences

royal government



Triangular Trade

XUnit 5: Road to Revolution
(Week 22, 6 Weeks)

In this unit, students explore the causes of the American Revolution. Focusing on the period from the Seven Years’ War to the battles at Lexington and Concord (1756 to 1775), students trace the disputes between the British government and her colonies. They examine the British Parliament’s attempts to tighten control from the early Navigation Acts and the Proclamation of 1763 to the Sugar Act, Stamp Act, the Townsend Acts, the Tea Act, and the Intolerable Acts. Students explore how colonists responded to the increasing control by Britain and analyze conflicting accounts of a variety of events such as the Boston Massacre and the Boston Tea Party. In doing so, students analyze how colonial and British views on authority and the use of power without authority differed. They read biographies of significant colonial leaders and compare their contributions during the Revolutionary War era. Students also focus on the role of political ideas, such as liberty (unalienable rights), representative government, and consent of the governed (social compact) as they analyze colonial disputes with Great Britain. They assess how colonial experiences with self-government, including the Committees of Correspondence and the First Continental Congress united many colonists from different colonial regions. Students also explore loyalist and patriot perspectives as the colonies moved closer towards declaring independence. The unit culminates with students constructing a chronology of events. Students then analyze the causes and effects of these events and assess their significance in leading to armed conflict at Lexington and Concord. Historians generally refer to the French and Indian War as the Seven Years’ War.


Why did some colonists from different regions join to create an independent nation?

  1. How did economic issues and political experiences and ideas affect the relationship between Great Britain and the colonies?
  2. Why were some colonists unhappy with British rule after the French and Indian War?
  3. How and why did people in different colonial regions unite against Great Britain?


cause and effect





limited government



representative government



trade policies

  • Chart paper
  • Document Camera or Projector
  • Map of the United States
  • Markers or crayons
  • Tissue boxes, one per student

XUnit 6: The American Revolution
(Week 28, 6 Weeks)

In this unit students explore the actions of people and the policies of nations during the Revolutionary War. Students begin by creating a timeline of events leading to the Declaration of Independence. They explore colonial experiences with self-government, including the Continental Congress, the influence of political ideas, and role of the press in unifying the colonies to support independence. Throughout the unit, students examine primary source writings including Common Sense and the Declaration of Independence. After considering the philosophical and political ideas about government contained in the Declaration of Independence, students analyze the colonists’ grievances in terms of unalienable rights, government by consent, and limited government. Next, students explore the course of the Revolutionary War. They evaluate the strengths and weakness of the British and colonial armies and investigate the course of the war with special emphasis on the winter at Valley Forge, the Battle of Saratoga, and the Battle of Yorktown. Students examine the influence of key individuals and other nations during this era, and compare perspectives of Loyalists and Patriots during the war. They also assess the role of women, African Americans, and American Indians on the outcome of the war and the impact of the war on their lives. The unit concludes with students assessing the Treaty of Paris, as well as the short and long term consequences of the American Revolution.

How did colonial experience and ideas about government influence the creation of a new nation?

  1. How did the colonists justify their right to rebel?
  2. In what ways was the American Revolution a war of ideas?
  3. How did people influence the course of the war?

Declaration of Independence

government by consent

military advantages and disadvantages

Patriot / Loyalist


right of revolution



turning point


unalienable rights

XUnit 7: A New Nation
(Week 34, 4 Weeks)

In this unit students explore the historical circumstances leading to the adoption of the United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Beginning with a review of the colonists’ ideas about government and their experiences with Great Britain, students hypothesize about what kind of government the colonists would create. In doing so, they consider natural rights philosophy, state power, and regional differences. Students then learn about the Articles of Confederation with a focus on the distribution of power between national and state governments. After exploring the passage of the Northwest Ordinance, students examine some of the problems the country faced under the Articles, including Shays’ Rebellion. In considering possible changes to the Articles, students explore the Constitutional Convention and the Framers’ decision to construct a new constitution. Using primary and secondary sources, students examine how the Framers sought to resolve differences among the states through a series of compromises. As students examine the Constitution, they are introduced to the concept of federalism and analyze how it limits the power of government. They review the reasons why the Framers wanted to build a strong national government, yet limit the power of that government and compare the positions of the Federalists and Anti-Federalists in the debates over ratification. Students describe the concern that some people had about individual rights and why the inclusion of a Bill of Rights was necessary. Particular attention is paid to the rights found in the first four amendments as they have their roots in the revolutionary experience. The unit concludes with students composing a persuasive essay on a public issue related to the Constitution.

Why is the federal government organized to give and to limit power?

  1. How effectively did the Framers of the Constitution resolve the problems the nation encountered under the Articles of Confederation?
  2. What role did compromise play in constructing the Constitution?
  3. How did the Framers address the issues of governmental power and individual rights?


Articles of Confederation

Bill of Rights


consent of the governed

Constitutional Convention


Federalists and Anti-Federalists


limited government

public issue

U.S. Constitution


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