Grade 1History and Geography

Focus: Why did Europeans first come to the Americas? The Grade 1 Core Knowledge History and Geography (CKHG) unit Early Explorers and Settlers looks at major reasons for the exploration of the “New World,” ranging from perceived easy access to wealth to a longing for religious freedom.

Students will explore the Americas with Columbus and the conquistadors who followed, looking at Europeans’ interactions with the indigenous peoples and at the often tragic results. They will then travel with the English explorers as they set up colonies in what would become the United States, first on a quest for riches in Virginia, and then on a search for a place to worship freely in Massachusetts. They will see how the first colonies overcame or succumbed to the hardships of life in this unfamiliar land, and they will witness the beginnings of slavery as agriculture in the southern colonies took off.

In its seven chapters, Early Explorers and Settlers looks at Columbus’s accidental arrival on the islands of the Caribbean, at the Lost Colony of Roanoke Island and its mysterious disappearance, and at the success of the Massachusetts Bay Colony in New England. The unit does not shy away from the difficult subject of slavery but gently introduces the subject in an age-appropriate manner.

Additional Search Terms: social studies • geography • nonfiction • informational text • conquistadors • Hernan Cortes • Francisco Pizarro • Sir Walter Raleigh • Virginia Dare • John Smith • Powhatan • Pocahontas • enslaved people • tobacco • Pilgrims • the Mayflower • Wampanoag • Squanto • Massachusetts Bay • Puritans

CKHG Grade Levels: CKHG units are correlated to topics at the grade levels specified in the Core Knowledge Sequence, which allows students in schools following the Sequence to build knowledge grade by grade. In other settings, individual CKHG units may be used as supplemental resources. In general, the content and presentation in the CKHG units for Grades K-2 are appropriate for students in the lower elementary grades. The Student Book is intended to be read aloud by the teacher as the students look at images on each page.

We have intentionally left the pacing and timing needed to teach the content presented in the Teacher Guide and Student Book very flexible. Teachers can choose how much they read aloud and discuss in a single instructional period, as well as how often each week they use the CKHG materials.

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