Political science is a scientific discipline concerned with the study of politics. Therefore, it is concerned with the study of power and governance, political activities, thoughts, and behaviors, along with the constitution and laws (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The contemporary approach to political science divides the discipline into international relations, comparative politics, and political theory. Also, it borrows heavily from other disciplines, notably social research, psychology, and cognitive neuroscience. With such a complex approach toward politics from political science, the discipline must be simplified for a fifth-grade student to understand. In the United States, a fifth-grade student is usually between 10-11 years, not unless they have skipped or held back a grade (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). Cognitive processes are not complex, with students conversing with common core English Language Arts and Mathematics standards. Therefore, teaching politics to a Fifth-grader differs significantly from other students, as elaborated in this paper.
The knowledge grasping ability of 5th graders is more straightforward than a student majoring in political science. Therefore, politics revolves primarily around understanding history, government, geography, and economics (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). American history cannot be covered entirely in 5th grade, and neither can social, political, and economic movements that have assisted in the shaping of America. Instead, 5th graders can uncover and discover these histories, paying maximum attention to interconnection, changes, and continuity across different periods (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). For instance, the rights and responsibilities of American citizens, along with the power and authority they create through governance. It is integral for fifth graders to understand their central role in the continuation of America as a nation.
Teaching politics to fifth graders, similar to other historical exploration fifth graders experience, involves presenting them with a chronological framework of separated eras and modified periods. The rubric often contains the actual events and ideas shared across histories. The eras and events include the expansive 19th century, the formation of the nation and self-government, exploration and colonization, the global positioning of the United States and the constitution and bill of rights (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The presentation of these simplified chronologically positioned data assists fifth-graders in expanding and advancing their cognitive development. Further, it assists the positioning of these students in a national space where they understand their country better and the factors associated with the country’s history, geography, and economy.
In the Classroom
The areas selected for coverage in the classroom in this paper are areas with the utmost content concerning the country, allowing the formulation of a linkage between history and the contemporary approach. Fifth graders should learn these are the most crucial elements as they expand on their history and familiarize themselves with current issues.
Understanding native Americans is an essential element in political science, similarly to fifth graders. Here, fifth graders need to understand Native Americans’ lives throughout North America, familiarizing themselves with their agricultural practices, homes and structures, hunting and gathering traditions, trading practices, and the rituals they perform within their various ceremonies (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). A justification for their geographical positioning should accompany this lesson. Since the students are still exploring, they may visit museums and art galleries to visually understand what they learn, especially paintings and artifacts (Furnes & Birketveit, 2020). Further, they can read about the myths and create tales concerning the people to clearly understand their way of life, especially beliefs and ideologies.
Understanding early American exploration will assist fifth graders in understanding what influenced colonization or the settlement of foreigners in America. It will expound on the explorers’ background, hardships, motivations, and impacts on the natives. For easy comprehension, the fifth graders can utilize timeline, route drawings, and mapping to understand this period and what took place when (Furnes & Birketveit, 2020). Depending on the curriculum, a tutor may include a westward movement study. In understanding exploration from a broader perspective, the fifth graders can use geographic tools to locate and analyze the explorers’ routes (Furnes & Birketveit, 2020). Also, they can understand how early technology-enhanced exploration, which explorers showed up, and when and what they represented. It will be easier to understand the explorers’ motives, such as economic, religious, and political, and how they impacted the natives within such areas, such as the American Indians. The geographic and cultural differences among the explorers should be presented, such as New England, Southern and Middle colonies, and their economic, religious, and political motivations.
The colonial era and colonization remain some of the most sensitive topics in political science as they dictated the rest of history. Fifth graders need to understand the 13 colonies, including the story behind their settling, the challenges these colonialists faced, and the routine of life during the colonial era. It is crucial to understand early settlers and how they influenced and propagated colonialism. This knowledge will make it easier for fifth graders to compare life during colonial and modern-day lives. This lesson should include slavery, slaves, and the slave trade to enable fifth-graders to relate what is currently going on globally with the events from this period (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The impacts of colonization, especially economic and cultural diffusion, should be included, primarily due to trade between North America and other regions. Positive impacts, such as the exchange of ideas and economic expansion, and negative impacts, such as slavery and the slave trade, should be included in this lesson (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The liberties held by the different groups, Native Indians, women, property-owners, indentured help, and enslaved people, should be illustrated and how it impacted the first colonial governments.
The American Revolution
This topic is a central subject in the fifth grader’s life and education. They need to understand the root of the American Revolution, the proceedings that occurred, and the people involved. This lesson can take the form of cartoon illustrations depicting the revolutionary leaders and the period (Furnes & Birketveit, 2020). The most meaningful events and battles should be illustrated in the classroom, especially the elaboration of loyalists and patriots and the conflicting arguments each party held. This knowledge can be expanded through reading historical novels and biographies. An essential subject during this period in the Declaration of Independence (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). This lesson should include events that lead to independence, such as the French and Indian War and the Boston Tea Party. Most importantly, the Declaration of Independence’s importance, purpose, and role should be elaborated upon.
Formation of America as A Nation
In understanding the formation of America as a nation, it is important to understand what the founders believed and held as important. The fifth-grader may read on Articles of Confederation, the Bill of Rights, and the Constitution (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). This lesson should also include the three arms of the government (executive, legislative, and judiciary). It should include the political parties, voting, and inauguration of the president. Fifth graders should read on influential people within this period, such as Thomas Jefferson and James Madison. Similar to the previous lesson, fifth graders can map the revolutionary war events and understand how each step affected Americans, especially their rights. The United States Constitution and the Bill of Rights should be approached regarding their underlying principles and the documents used in their development, such as the Magna Carta. Each student should familiarize themselves with the Preamble, the procedure of passing a law, how the government attains and sustains checks and balances, and traditions that illustrate patriotism in America, such as the Pledge of Allegiance, flag etiquette, and voting.
Civil War and Reconstruction
This lesson should approach America through the civil war lens by presenting the causes, major events, and consequences. Fifth graders should familiarize themselves with notable individuals such as Abraham Lincoln as well as significant documents, like the Emancipation Proclamation and Constitutional Amendments 13, 14 and 15 (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The lesson should touch on The Great Depression, World War I, and World War II. Imperatively, it should elaborate on how America became a superpower and how much has changed since. To understand this lesson, fifth graders may debate some topics or read biographies of people concerning the era.
In Personal Life
After the classroom lessons, these students need to relate these lessons with current issues. For instance, they can now understand the United States’ position on the global map and the constitutional crises, geographical expansions, and economic growth that it is currently experiencing in relation to other global elements. From the lessons, fifth graders can understand essential political elements for national and global survival and how countries relate on a political platform, especially with America as a superpower. Also, the students can understand the social and economic movements of the 20th century that have impacted the 21st century, such as concerning women, children, and immigrants (GreatSchools Staff, 2021). The fifth graders will understand the various occurrences in society and even strive to attain a solution. This process can be made more accessible by the students debating on the various current issues.
Despite the complexities of political science, fifth graders can also study and understand key concepts concerning the United States. As the paper establishes, the most important elements are concerning the country and its history. Also, the fifth graders can understand the underlying factors of some current phenomena and attempt to find solutions to address current issues. The most important element to observe is the role of political science in the daily lives of the fifth graders.
Furnes, L. K., & Birketveit, A. (2020). Development of intercultural competence among a class of 5th graders using a picture book. Nordic Journal of Modern Language Methodology, 8(2), 113-139.
This paper illustrates the study of Norwegian English taught to fifth graders as a Foreign Language. The study investigates how fifth graders decenter a skill within intercultural competence, mostly by the use of images, visual aids and group discussion. One-group pretest-postest design alongside Byram’s and Piaget’s theories was used as methodologies. This paper was useful in the research as it assisted in identifying the best learning procedures for fifth graders as they expanded their knowledge of political science. The main findings of the research indicated that the ability to decenter increased after the intervention. The main limitation of this study is the limited number of participants. However, it implicates our research concerning teaching fifth graders, extending our knowledge concerning teaching political science. From the variety of references utilized, the research aligns with previous research.
GreatSchools Staff. (2012). Your Fifth Grader and Social Studies. Parenting. Web.
GreatSchools is a nonprofit organization empowering parents to assist their children in identifying and expounding on the present educational opportunities. The key research finding in this paper is that fifth graders can also experience and understand politics from a simplified perspective. It breaks down political science for fifth graders. The paper is in the form of a representation that takes readers through the essential needs of a fifth grader who would like to understand political science. Therefore, it uses a literature review methodology. Using analysis of previous studies to select the most suitable topics for fifth graders, the study extends our research topic while implicating the field of political science with newfound insight. A key limitation is the briefness of the research data. However, the key research findings align with previous research to present elaborated data on our research topic.