For grades K-8, the Core Knowledge Sequence provides content-specific, cumulative, and coherent curriculum guidelines for all major content areas: language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, mathematics, and science,
The Core Knowledge Sequence is freely available for non-commercial use. To support the teaching of the knowledge and skills specified in the Sequence, we also offer comprehensive curriculum programs, with many materials available at no cost.Download the Sequence for Grades K-8
At a Glance
The Core Knowledge Sequence for grades K-8 is organized by grade level and, within each grade, by subject. You can download a high-level summary of topics in the Core Knowledge Sequence.
As well as learning skills in reading and writing, students read a variety of works from many cultures, including poetry, folk tales, myths, and longer works such as classic novels and plays. Nonfiction topics from other subjects in the Sequence (especially History and Science) may be effectively integrated during Language Arts instruction.
History and Geography (World and American)
In World and American History, students learn stories of major events and figures from prehistory to modern times. The content builds chronologically grade by grade to help children gain a greater understanding of the development and interactions of world civilizations and cultures, as well as the formation of the United States and principles of American democracy.
The study of geography embraces many topics intended to develop a spatial sense of the world and awareness of specific regions and cultures. It builds an understanding of the relations between place and culture and between people and their environment.
In Visual Arts, students learn about the elements of art, such as light, line, color, and perspective. They are introduced to various art forms, such as sculpture, portraits, still life, landscapes, and architecture. They learn about movements in art, such as realism, Impressionism, and abstraction. They are introduced to many specific artists and artworks in relation to their studies in World and American History, including art from ancient and medieval times; the Renaissance; Islamic art and architecture; and African, Chinese, Japanese, and American art (from early American folk art to modern American painting).
In Music, students are exposed to a wide variety of music from jazz to orchestral music, as well as vocal music that includes spirituals, folk songs, and patriotic songs. They learn about composers and their music, the elements of music (such as beat and rhythm), basic notation, families of instruments, and vocal ranges.
The detailed guidelines in the Core Knowledge Sequence can help schools ensure that the programs they follow comprehensively address important mathematical skills and concepts that build grade by grade. The Core Knowledge Foundation is in the process of reviewing Mathematics curriculum products in order to recommend effective programs to Core Knowledge schools.
In Science, students are introduced early to topics in life science and physical science and then revisit many of these topics in greater depth in later grades. Topics include living things and their environments, the human body, cycles in nature, ecology, geology, meteorology, magnetism, simple machines, light and optics, sound, matter, electricity, and concepts in chemistry and physics. Each grade level also specifies basic biographical study of individuals who have made important contributions in science.
Note: The Core Knowledge Foundation is currently updating the science portion of the 2010 Core Knowledge Sequence and its guidelines for science content and skills. As we create curricular materials for science, the current focus is to update grades 3–5, which will be followed by updates to K–2 and 6–8. For more information, please review the 2019 Core Knowledge Science Sequence.
Listening and Learning
In grades K-2, the Core Knowledge Sequence introduces topics typically associated with later grades, such as the study of ancient Egypt, the Civil War, or electricity. Much of the knowledge of these topics can be conveyed through reading appropriate texts aloud, followed by discussion and activities.
Reading Aloud: In these early grades, children’s ability to understand what they hear far outpaces what they can read independently. A first grader might not be able to read the words hieroglyphic or pharaoh on a page but will be fascinated by hearing well-written stories and nonfiction texts about ancient Egypt. Helping young children develop the ability to listen to and understand read-aloud texts is integral to the development of literacy.
The selection of read-aloud texts within a given grade level and across grade levels should be guided by a coherent, sequenced approach to building knowledge. This can be achieved by selecting fiction and nonfiction read-alouds in relation to topics identified in the Core Knowledge Sequence.
Staying Focused: Students build knowledge most effectively when the selection of read-aloud texts does not shift randomly from topic to topic from one class to the next but instead remains focused on a single domain over a sustained period of time. (A domain is an area of knowledge, such as the human body, plants, astronomy, Eastern Woodlands Native Americans, civil rights, and so on.) Staying focused on a single topic or domain before moving to another increases the chance that students will receive multiple exposures to key vocabulary words and concepts.
For example, for kindergartners, the Sequence specifies a series of topics in the domain of Plants and Plant Growth. In a two-week unit of study on the specified topics, students will get multiple exposures to key vocabulary words (such as seeds, roots, crops, and harvest). Hearing these kinds of words used repeatedly in meaningful contexts over the course of a domain increases children’s learning of new knowledge.
The Listening and Learning strand of the Core Knowledge Language Arts program has been designed to build knowledge as well as listening and speaking competency.
Both Skills and Content
The Core Knowledge Sequence explicitly addresses important skills in various subjects—for example, in language arts, decoding, handwriting, spelling, and written composition; in geography, spatial sense; or in math, estimating sums and differences, or converting common fractions to decimals. Beyond the skills explicitly addressed in the Sequence, teachers in most schools are also guided by the skills spelled out in state and local curricular guidelines.
Effective Core Knowledge teachers know that both content and skills are essential. They embed the teaching of critical skills within the content they share with their students. Skill objectives are most effectively targeted when they are anchored to the content in the context of a domain of knowledge.
Using the Sequence for Knowledge-Based Schooling
How do you teach Core Knowledge? What materials are available? How can you start a Core Knowledge program in your classroom or school?Learn About Implementation
K-8 Sequence FAQ
Have more questions about the K-8 Sequence?Read the FAQs