Learning About the World

Social Studies


Physical and Cultural Geography

Goal 1: Children construct concepts about the physical characteristics and locations of familiar to more distant places, and the impacts of people on the environment. They also construct concepts about their own cultural identity and learn to appreciate others’ cultures.

By the end of each age group or grade level, most children will have met prior age group or grade level standards in this domain.

Infants Through Older Toddlers

Infants

(0-12 Months)

  1. Explore similarities and differences of familiar people by touching faces, feeling their hair, etc.

Young Toddlers

(9-18 Months)

  1. Explore places in home environment, as well as in other familiar places
  2. Locate where favorite objects are kept

Older Toddlers

(18-36 Months)

  1. Identify usual locations of familiar objects and people (e.g., points out own cubby)
  2. Point out places in the community where they have had experiences (e.g., library, store)
  3. Identify similarities and differences between self and others
Younger Preschoolers Through Kindergartners

Younger Preschoolers

(36-48 months)

  1. Use simple positional terms to describe location of familiar objects and people
  2. Work to help care for their environment (e.g., recycle paper, pick up litter on walk)
  3. Describe own family traditions and cultural celebrations
  4. Ask simple questions about others’ cultural traditions and celebrations

Older Preschoolers

(48-60 months)

  1. Identify features of the physical environment around them (e.g., roads, buildings, bodies of water)
  2. Describe or draw features of the geography of their classroom, home, and community
  3. Explain that people share the environment with other people, animals, and plants
  4. Describe ways people can help take care of the environment (e.g., recycle)
  5. Point out own physical and family characteristics and those of others
  6. Respect physical and cultural differences of others

Kindergartners

  1. State own name and address
  2. Describe the boundaries that define neighborhood
  3. Identify what a map or globe is and what its purpose is
  4. Use vocabulary that defines location in space (e.g., near, far, below, above)
  5. Use a simple map to find something
  6. Create a simple map
  7. Describe ways in which they take care or hurt the environment and how they adapt to their physical environment (e.g., dressing for winter)
  8. Identify the ways culture is expressed in their families
  9. Appreciate the differences and similarities among people (e.g., physical characteristics, cultures, likes and dislikes)
First Graders Through Third Graders

First Graders

  1. Interpret geography by identifying characteristics of a neighborhood or community using resources such as road signs, landmarks, models, maps, photographs and mental mapping
  2. Differentiate between neighborhood, town, and state
  3. Identify the locations of places within the community on a prepared map, and suggest why particular locations are used for certain human activities (e.g., parks, school, shops)
  4. Identify a map or globe and use terms related to location, direction, and distance (e.g., up/down, left/right, north, south, east, west)
  5. Use a simple map to find something (e.g., locate the teacher’s desk on a map of their classrooms)
  6. Create a map as a representation of a space (e.g., make a map of the playground, draw a treasure map)
  7. Identify and use basic elements of the map (e.g., cardinal directions and key)
  8. Using appropriate geographic resources (e.g., aerial photos) to answer geographic questions
  9. Identify ways in which they and people in the community take care of or hurt the environment (e.g., after identifying litter in the local area, discuss why the trash is there and give suggestions about how the problem can be helped)
  10. Participate in taking care of the environment (e.g., recycling)
  11. Identify ways in which people in their community adapt to their physical environment, and discuss how these adaptations have both positive and negative effects
  12. State reasons why friends and family move (e.g., climate, job opportunities, family ties)
  13. Identify ways culture is expressed in their communities, such as celebrations, legends, and traditions
  14. Describe the contributions of various cultural groups to the community

Second Graders

  1. Interpret geography by identifying characteristics of a neighborhood or community using resources such as road signs, landmarks, models, maps, photographs and mental mapping
  2. Differentiate between neighborhood, town, and state
  3. Identify the locations of places within the community on a prepared map, and suggest why particular locations are used for certain human activities (e.g., parks, school, shops)
  4. Identify a map or globe and use terms related to location, direction, and distance (e.g., up/down, left/right, north, south, east, west)
  5. Use a simple map to find something (e.g., locate the teacher’s desk on a map of their classrooms)
  6. Create a map as a representation of a space (e.g., make a map of the playground, draw a treasure map)
  7. Identify and use basic elements of the map (e.g., cardinal directions and key)
  8. Using appropriate geographic resources (e.g., aerial photos) to answer geographic questions
  9. Identify ways in which they and people in the community take care of or hurt the environment (e.g., after identifying litter in the local area, discuss why the trash is there and give suggestions about how the problem can be helped)
  10. Participate in taking care of the environment (e.g., recycling)
  11. Identify ways in which people in their community adapt to their physical environment, and discuss how these adaptations have both positive and negative effects
  12. State reasons why friends and family move (e.g., climate, job opportunities, family ties)
  13. Identify ways culture is expressed in their communities, such as celebrations, legends, and traditions
  14. Describe the contributions of various cultural groups to the community

Third Graders

  1. Identify characteristics of surrounding towns and the state of Vermont using various resources
  2. Observe, compare, and analyze patterns of local and state land use (e.g., agriculture, forestry, industry) to understand why particular locations are used for certain human activities
  3. Locate the physical and political regions of Vermont
  4. Locate countries and major cities in North America
  5. Locate major global physical divisions, such as continents, oceans, cardinal directions, poles, equator, tropics, Arctic and Antarctic Circles, tropical, mid-latitude and polar regions
  6. Create effective geographic representations using appropriate elements
  7. Identify and use basic elements of the map
  8. Use grid systems to locate places on maps and globes
  9. Ask appropriate geographic questions and use geographic resources to answer them
  10. Describe how people have changed the environment in Vermont for specific purposes (e.g., farming)
  11. Identify and participate in ways they can contribute to preserving natural resources
  12. Describe a community or state environmental issue
  13. Describe how patterns of human activities relate to natural resource distribution
  14. Identify patterns of voluntary and involuntary migration in Vermont
  15. Identify expressions of culture in Vermont and the U.S., such as language, social institutions, beliefs and customs, economic activities, behaviors, food [
  16. Describe the contributions of various cultural groups to Vermont and the U.S.
  17. Identify ways in which culture in Vermont has changed

Vermont Agency of Education
Secretary Daniel M. French
219 North Main Street, Suite 402
Barre, VT 05641

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