Lower School students develop foundational understandings of self, community, country and world as students of Social Studies. Throughout the grade levels, we focus on basic mapping, atlas and geography skills. We also use a research methodology that is particularly effective in helping students to understand the “how” and the “what” of good research, using the framework of the Independent Investigation Method (IIM) to guide students through systematic steps for conducting research. Second through fifth grade students engage with write-in texts that are interactive and information-rich as a basis for programmatic study. The texts promote active reading and self-assessment, and the robust digital components help bring the topics to life for the students. We also draw on a variety of primary and secondary sources so that students gain greater understanding of the topics they study. In addition, the Nystrom Atlas activities and large-scale globes will allow our students to fine tune their geography literacy skills, thereby broadening their view of the world.
The Kew-Forest student body reflects the rich cultural diversity of Queens. Many different languages, ethnicities, religions, and cultural traditions can be found within the community. The Social Studies program utilizes this diverse setting as a starting point from which to study diverse cultures and perspectives. Teaching students to understand and respect cultural diversity and to view the world from different perspectives are important components of the Social Studies curriculum at all grade levels. 
Across the Lower School, students engage in month-long project-based International Study, focused on geography, history and culture of a single country. All Lower School students then participate in a division-wide World Day Celebration, when they share the results of their research and perform songs, dances, and poems originating from and inspired by the countries that the classes have studied. The curriculum functions both as “window” and “mirror” in that students look through “windows” in order to see the realities of others as well as into “mirrors” in order to see his/her own reality. Thus, throughout the study, students are practicing “both/and” thinking, as they reveal a multicultural world and the student him or herself. As in all learning experiences, International Study is personal and contextual.

List of 7 items.

  • Early Childhood Development

    Social studies in the early childhood classroom involves learning about commonalities and differences in school, neighborhood and world communities. Essential questions are explored such as “How are we alike?” “What surrounding do we share?” “How do we take care of spaces we share?” “Who are we?” “What are our connections to each other?” “What are our connections to others in the world?” Through student-centered, project and inquiry-based approaches such as a family study, or individual self-portraits, children are encouraged to consider social and civic responsibility and engage in the process of developing empathy, kindness and understanding.
    There are two specific curricular units that tie into Social Studies in the ECD classroom. During our Healthy Commons study, the children explore through class discussion and activities aspects of what we share in the world and in our surroundings. They learn and become fully immersed in the concept of “Common” and develop a feeling of responsibility for helping to keep common surroundings, materials and resources safe and suitable for everyone. After participating in our Lower School-wide World Day Celebration, we begin our second large unit of study, a Sense of Place. The children begin to identify more closely with what it means to have a sense of place in the world. Through class discussion and activities, the children begin to embrace  concepts of identity of all living things, and how everyone has a role to play in the  world. The goal is to facilitate enhanced global awareness in an age appropriate and meaningful way. Our social study throughout the year culminates in a Family Study. During this time we invite families to come in to share important aspects of culture and tradition as it relates to the place in the world they are connected to.
  • Kindergarten

    Our social studies program explores the belief in the freedom to read and to learn. It presents the story of our nation, the stories of families and cultures, the story of our world. The students learn about differences and equality, discussing what it means to respect others, and learning about what we do not understand.
    Kindergarten children are naturally self-oriented and inquisitive. Thus, the Kindergarten Social Studies curriculum begins with a focus on the self and then expands outwards. We help the children share information by interacting with others, looking at pictures, reading books, and making first-hand observations. As children learn to socialize in Kindergarten, they are learning the beginning principles of citizenship. They are provided with prompts for discussion, role-playing, drawing, and writing to help them make connections between their own experiences and the principles of citizenship. Such principles include responsibility, fairness, honesty, caring, courage, and respect. The goal of the Kindergarten social studies curriculum is to give children a sense of identity that comes with knowledge and understanding that promotes security and safety.
    Our units of study move from who we are, to communities, to work, to our earth, to the U.S.A., and finally back to the smaller family. The curriculum first helps the children understand who they are: a person, part of a family, part of a school. It then moves on to communities, exploring maps, signs, and seasonal celebrations. Study then progresses to our greater physical and natural environment, exploring work, making choices, needs and wants, the globe, our country, national symbols and family celebrations. One favorite component is performing a “patriotic ensemble” for family and friends at the end of the year and a celebration of the school’s diversity on World Day. The lessons, skills, and features of the Kindergarten social studies curriculum also provides many opportunities to make connections between social studies and other areas of the elementary curriculum, such as reading, writing, science, art, music, literature, and math.
  • First Grade

    The focus of the first grade Social Studies curriculum is communities. Students explore everything from recognizing what a community is to understanding the various communities in which they are members: family, classroom, school, neighborhood, city, state, country, and world. Community building within the classroom is a critical part of the curriculum, and emphasis is placed on recognizing how each student brings different strengths and perspectives to the group. In exploring the diversity of family communities, students engage in a home/school “Family History” project that exposes them to different family structures, traditions, holiday celebrations, and rules. By sharing their cultural backgrounds and ancestral roots, students gain opportunities to compare how families are both alike and different throughout the world. Students also learn about world leaders, workers, jobs, and what it means to be a good citizen. Map-reading and globe skills accompany the lessons. Another highlight of the Social Studies program is first grade’s International Study and participation in the annual Lower School World Day celebration.
  • Second Grade

    The second grade Social Studies curriculum explores thematic units of Communities and Our Country, Working to Meet Our Needs, The World Around Us, Celebrating our Traditions and Our Nation Past and Present. Essential questions are woven throughout each lesson, activity and assessment to guide students and help them see the big ideas to transfer their knowledge to new learning situations that demonstrate true understanding. Students are immersed in close reading, discussions, written and verbal responses, and creative projects throughout our Social Studies program. 
    Our International Study is another component of our Social Studiescurriculum that immerses second graders in studying and learning all about one specific country. During this unit, students learn the traditions, foods, currency, communities, holidays and more specific to that country. Through numerous resources, such as book and computer-based research, students acquire knowledge about the country and showcase their learning through a performance and final project.
  • Third Grade

    Social studies instruction provides third graders with a meaningful understanding of world geography and the regions of the United States. Beginning with a review of basic map skills and a general overview of continents, countries, and oceans of the world, students develop a global understanding of their “place in the world,” beginning with their local community and how that fits into larger communities in the world. Hands-on activities, such as designing maps of student created countries, serve to fully engage students in learning and reinforce learned concepts.  
    Using textbooks, technology and multi-media presentations, third grade students learn to compare and contrast geography, climate, resources, history and culture across of the various regions that comprise the United States. Videos and websites are used to supplement textbooks and other reading material in order to provide a realistic glimpse of unfamiliar people, foreign places, and historical and current events. Individual research of a specific state further enables students to ask questions and collect and analyze information about a state of interest. Organizing and presenting this information using different modalities (art, writing, technology, etc.) allows students to apply content specific vocabulary and their understanding of Social Studies concepts in an engaging and meaningful way.
    During our International Study, third graders develop an understanding and appreciation of cultures in other communities around the world. Guided research provides students with a structured framework for collecting, organizing, analyzing, and presenting information about a particular country.  By collaborating with our art, music, technology, and Physical Education teachers, we provide hands-on experiences involving culture and the arts, which deepens students’ interest and understanding of other countries.
  • Fourth Grade

    Fourth grade students are challenged to explore concepts, build knowledge and transfer what they have learned beyond the classroom enabling them to become global citizens. Essential Questions, the basis of the Social Studies Units, aids students in connecting prior knowledge with presented topics. 
    Students immerse themselves in American History through a variety of projects. Students learn more effectively when taking ownership of their studies. Small group activities provide opportunities for students to demonstrate and display their comprehension of the content. Collaborative group work encourages the students to write and present a historically accurate performance of the first Thanksgiving as part of their Native American studies.  
    Connecting to world cultures, our International Study teaches students to learn about, empathize with and respect global cultures while connecting them to their own. Activities range from mapping, graphing, and role-playing to read- alouds. By analyzing primary sources students are supported in developing skills needed  for citing evidence. Using IIM (the Independent Investigation Method), a research tool engaging students in learning to work independently while researching world cultures, helps support students investigative skills.
  • Fifth Grade

    The fifth grade Social Studies curriculum is an exploration of the development of the United States from the Colonial Period through the Civil War and Reconstruction, and an examination of the wide variety of factors (economic, geographic, political, social, and cultural) that contributed to the formation of the United States. We use a textbook series along with historical fiction books, biographies, primary sources and nonfiction trade books, maps, charts, and other media resources to guide our chronological in-depth study of essential events and topics of study (i.e. the American Revolution, U.S. Constitution, foundations of our government, Civil War, conflicts with indigenous peoples, emergence of a market society, slavery, women’s rights, geographic expansion, popular protest, technological advancement, and growth of the United States). We also participate in the Lower School-wide International Study and World Day Celebration.
    Each unit is guided by a focus question that connects with the particular era, developments, or themes of study. These essential questions are meant to remind students of how the themes and eras addressed in a particular unit relate to timeless important issues and concepts. As they delve deeper into studying specific historical periods, Social Studies practices are embedded into each unit and built upon. Throughout the curriculum, students are challenged to think historically by engaging in explicit historical inquiry-investigating historical questions, evaluating evidence, and constructing historical claims. Developing these skills is foundational for students when writing authentic historical research papers. The Independent Investigation Method (IIM) is also used as a tool to learn basic research skills. 
    The curriculum provides students with a foundation in early United States history that they can draw upon in future classes. Chiefly, it helps students make sense of the world in which they live, allows them to make connections between major ideas and their own lives, and helps them see themselves as members of the world community.

The Kew-Forest School

119-17 Union Turnpike
Forest Hills, NY 11375
(718) 268-4667
The oldest independent school in the borough of Queens, The Kew-Forest School is an independent co-educational, college preparatory school for students in Preschool through Grade 12.