Skip to Content

Social Studies - Kindergarten-Grade 2


Behavioral Sciences

Behavioral sciences include, but are not limited to, the areas of sociology, anthropology and psychology. In addressing these disciplines the actions and reactions of humans are studied through observational and experimental methods.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills

Understand the changing nature of society

  • Understand that people and institutions change over time.
  • Understand past, present and future.
  • Understand that people in different times and places view the world differently.

Understand all people have individual traits

  • Understand that people are alike and different in many ways.
  • Understand that individuals will respond to events differently.

Understand interactions between self and the peer group

  • Understand that people often choose to dress, talk, and act like their friends.
  • Understand that people often choose to do certain things their own way.
  • Understand that telling and listening is a way that people can learn from others.
  • Understand that disagreements occur between friends.
  • Understand that rules let people understand what to expect and so can reduce the number of disputes.

Understand the relationship of the individual to the components of society and culture

  • Understand that different groups may have different rules and patterns of acceptable behavior.
  • Understand that people belong to some groups because they are born into them and some because they join them.
  • Understand that groups influence one’s thoughts and actions.
  • Understand that a community is a group to which a person may belong.
  • Understand that people tend to live in families in which individuals have different roles.
  • Understand the features of nuclear and extended families.



Economics addresses the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. The concept of scarcity is understood to mean that available resources are insufficient to satisfy the wants and needs of everyone. Economics is therefore founded upon the alternative use of available resources and the study of choices.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills

Understand the role of scarcity and economic trade-offs and how economic conditions impact people’s lives

  • Understand people are both consumers and producers.
  • Understand that a cost is what you give up when you decide to do something, and a benefit is something that satisfies your wants.
  • Understand that since people cannot have everything they want, they must make choices about using goods and services to satisfy wants.

Understand that the basic nature of economics is an exchange of resources

  • Understand the role of money in everyday life.
  • Understand that a price is the amount of money people pay for a good or service.
  • Understand that people sell resources to businesses to earn income.
  • Understand that in an exchange people trade goods and services for other goods and services or for money.
  • Understand that money is a good that can be used to buy all other goods and services.
  • Understand that barter is trading goods and services for other goods and services without using money.
  • Understand natural resources are from nature; capital resources are made by humans; human resources (labor) are the efforts of people who produce goods and services.

Understand how governments throughout the world influence economic behavior

  • Understand the role of fiscal and monetary policies in governments.
  • Understand government regulation of industries.
  • Understand the economic trade-offs of government assistance programs.
  • Understand the impact of the federal budget on the economy at the individual, household, and business levels.
  • Understand changes in spending and taxation affect national deficits, surpluses, and debt.
  • Understand the role of the Federal Reserve.

Understand people in all parts of the world trade with one another

  • Understand the basic concept of trading.
  • Understand that different currencies are used throughout the world.

Understand that changes in technology impact individuals and society

  • Understand that the types of jobs and goods and services change over time.
  • Understand the technological developments that influenced changes in communication and transportation.
  • Understand that people are always inventing new ways to solve problems and accomplish work.
  • Understand that manufacturing technology creates a design of a product and then produces the product in quantity.

Understand the universal economic concept of needs and wants

  • Understand the difference between needs and wants.
  • Understand the concepts of consumers and producers.
  • Understand that people make choices because they cannot have everything they want.



Geography is the study of the interaction between people and their environments. Geography therefore looks at the world through the concepts of location, place, human-environmental interaction, movement, and region.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills

Understand the use of geographic tools to locate and analyze information about people, places, and environments

  • Understand representations of the earth such as maps, globes and photographs.
  • Understand representations of locales and regions on maps and globes.

Understand how geographic and human characteristics create culture and define regions

  • Understand human and physical characteristics of places. (Ex. rural, urban, forest, desert, etc.).
  • Understand the concept of regions according to physical and human criteria.
  • Understand the concept of culture.
  • Understand the concepts of urban and suburban.
  • Understand that different people living in the same region maintain different ways of life.

Understand how human factors and the distribution of resources affect the development of communities and the movement of populations

  • Understand why people choose to settle in different places.
  • Understand the role that resources play in human's daily lives.
  • Understand modes of transportation used to move products, people and ideas.

Understand how geographic processes and human actions modify the environment and how the environment affects humans

  • Understand ways in which people depend on the physical environment.
  • Understand humans impact the environment in positive and negative ways.
  • Understand the environment impacts humans in positive and negative ways.
  • Understand areas of a community have changed over time.



History is the study and analysis of the past. Built upon a foundation of historical knowledge, history seeks to analyze the past in order to describe the relationship between historical facts, concepts, and generalizations. History draws upon cause and effect relationships within multiple social narratives to help explain complex human interactions. Understanding the past provides context for the present and implications for the future.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills

Understand people construct knowledge of the past from multiple and various types of sources

  • Understand past, present, and future time in relation to historical events.
  • Understand that primary sources such as artifacts, photographs, and documents are used to learn about the past.
  • Understand timelines.
  • Understand that people in different times and places view the world differently.

Understand how and why people create and participate in governance

  • Understand the need for government and how our government came to be.
  • Understand national symbols through which American values and principles are expressed.
  • Understand factors that contribute to disputes or cooperation in groups and nations.

Understand culture and how cultural diffusion affects the development and maintenance of societies

  • Understand cultures influence society and government.
  • Understand reasons groups of people moved into and within the United States long ago and today.
  • Understand the different roles of majority and minority groups in society.

Understand individuals and groups within a society may promote change or the status quo

  • Understand the roles historic and ordinary Americans have played in changing society and government.
  • Understand ways science and technology have changed the lives of people.
  • Understand changes in values, beliefs, and attitudes have resulted in technological and scientific knowledge.
  • Understand that changes in society may or may not be beneficial.

Understand economic needs and wants affect individual and group decisions

  • Understand the differences between needs and wants.
  • Understand the need for public and private goods and services and the workers who provide them.
  • Understand the development of technological innovations and their economic effects.
  • Understand changes in transportation and communication and their effects.

Understand relationship between geography and historical events

  • Understand that science and technology can affect physical environments.
  • Understand why people developed a region.
  • Understand that the earth's physical features have changed over time.

Understand cause and effect relationships and other historical thinking skills in order to interpret events and issues

  • Understand that historical decisions can help inform current public issues.
  • Understand historical research methods.
  • Understand the difference between fact and fiction.


Political Science/Civic Literacy

NOTE: The Essential Concepts and Skills listed in Social Studies - Political Science/Civic Literacy are the same as the Essential Concepts and Skills listed in 21st Century - Civic Literacy

Political science is the study of power and authority through the examination of political processes, governmental institutions, and human behavior in a civil society. In this context the study of civics is understood to include the form and function of government. Civic literacy encompasses civics but also addresses the individual's social and political participation.

Essential Concepts and/or Skills

Understand the basic concepts of government and democracy and that the Constitution defines the rights and responsibilities of citizens

  • Understand what the US Constitution is and why it is important.
  • Understand the purpose of rules.
  • Understand the concept of fairness.
  • Understand rights and responsibilities.

Understand how government affects citizens and how citizens affect government

  • Understand the purpose of government.
  • Understand the characteristics of a good leader.
  • Understand respect for other’s point of view.
  • Understand the concepts of power and authority.

Understand the United States has a role in current world affairs

  • Understand the world is divided into nations.
  • Understand how the nations of the world interact with one another.

Printed from the Iowa Department of Education website on April 20, 2014 at 3:38pm.