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Social Studies and the Young Learner


For decades, the “expanding communities” model has dominated the elementary classroom, sustained by notions that young children need to first understand their local communities before they can understand the broader world. As proponents of this approach value how it supports young learners developmentally, critics fault its narrow scope. How will children become global thinkers if they fail to explore the world beyond their home?

Instead of separating local and global perspectives and topics, we set out to integrate them, to teach children about the world through their local communities. We created Community Story Maps as an inquiry-driven project where students learn about local history through the lenses of history, civics, economics, and geography and compare their surroundings to geographically different places and regions. The Community Story Maps project illustrates how an online resource—Esri Story Maps—can be used to deepen historical and geospatial thinking and make connections between the local and global.


© National Council for the Social Studies