OUSD History Standards > Grade 5 Standards

OUSD K-12 History / Social Studies Standards

What students should know:

United States History and Geography: Making a New Nation


  • Demonstrate an understanding of major native settlements of the North American continent including the Northeastern woodland~ Pacific Northwest, the Great Plain~, the Southeast, and the Southwest, and know that their various cultures were influenced by their environment.


  • Demonstrate knowledge of important ideas and aspirations that form the foundation of the American republic.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of how geographic, political, and technological factors brought about an age of exploration.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the development of colonial societies and understand the differences between the New England, Middle, and Southern colonies.
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the origins and development of slavery in America.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of major events and people of the American Revolution, the causes of the Revolution, and how it led to independence.


  • Explain the development of the young republic 1789-1850.


  • Demonstrate an understanding of the major people and developments of westward expansion up to 1850.
  • Understand the connection between Westward expansion and the effect on native people.

Fifth Grade Skills Based on Standardized Tests

~ Gather information from charts
~ Analyze posters and photographs for information
~ Have a basic knowledge of which countries are in which continents
~ Understand compass directions
~ Use maps with text to gather information
~ Understand a graph that contains information about more than one item
~ Read a family tree
~ Understand terms such as "city," "state," and "national" ~ Read conclusions based on graphs
~ Read a pie chart


What students should be able to do:

Chronological/Spatial Thinking

1. Students know the key events of the historical eras they are studying, and place them in chronological sequence.
2. Students use Common Era year designations (eg., 1995) for recent events (e.g., during their own lives and those of their parents).
3. Students identify places on regional, state, and national maps.
4. Students understand that change happens at different rates at different times; that some aspects of a thing can change while others remain the same.
5. Students understand that the present is connected to the past. They identify both similarity (continuity) and difference (change) between past and present (e.g. compare a historical photograph of a street scene with the same street today).


1. Students become familiar with artifacts photographs, stories, maps, music, and short written sources from other times and other cultures. They use these sources to generate questions about the past.
2. Students identify the uses of an artifact. They identify parts of the artifact and how they might contribute to its usefulness They identify the main subject of a photograph. They identify details in a photograph and explain how they contribute information about the picture The students understand the meaning of the vocabulary used in written sources and accurately read information from them. They identify the main idea or ideas stated in the source as well as supporting details.
3. Students identify places or sources where they can obtain information (letters, diaries, photos, artifacts, etc.).
4. Students begin to understand that some sources are more reliable than others. They compare reliable and unreliable sources and offer reasons why a particular source is more or less reliable than another
5. Students understand that primary sources can tell us about the person or people who created them.

Diversity/Multiple Perspectives

1. Students examine beliefs, values, and conditions of life of a variety of different people from different times and places.
2. Students imaginatively place themselves in the position of others in different circumstances-today or in the past or in fictional stories. They explain differences between two or more participants' views of a particular event. They tell a story incorporating the views of two or more characters.

Historical Interpretation

1. Students understand that stories may be about real people or fictional characters.
2. Students understand that it is possible to tell different stories about the same events.
3. Students understand that different stories may have different pu poses and different messages.
4. Students construct a simple personal narrative, and a simple narrative of an event.

Historical/Geographic Significance

1. Students identify people and events in the past that are significant to them, and offer explanations about why they are significant.
2. Students explain how certain events and decisions had consequences for others. They evaluate the consequences as positive or negative (or a combination of the two).
3. Students understand the significance of place and spatial relationships in shaping historical events.


Chronological and Spatial Thinking

  • Map different native tribal regions prior to European arrival.
  • Map the routes and dates of explorers and their expeditions.
  • Participate in a student produced card game matching explorer to route taken, with date of the exploration.
  • Locate the thirteen colonies on a map and link the natural resources of each area with the economics and lifestyles of the people who lived in the colonies.
  • Make a time line of the colonial settlements and their dates of establishment.
  • Summarize and/or make a time line of events which led to the American Revolution.
    Find out who were the signers of the Declaration of Independence and locate on a map where they came from.

Examining Evidence

  • Look at pictures of Indian homes from native tribes in different regions of North America. Speculate how the geography shaped the building of these homes.
  • Look at a map from Europe that was made prior to Columbus. List how that map is different from a world map today
  • Read poems by Phyllis Wheatly and other writing by African-Americans to develop an understanding of their lives in colonial America.
  • Look at paintings made during the Revolutionary War period. Write a list of what you can learn about how people dressed, particular events, etc.
  • Break down the Declaration of Independence into four parts. Have small groups read, create vocabulary lists, and rewrite their section of the Declaration. Present it in front of the class.

Diversity / Multiple Perspectives

  • Discuss the different perspectives the explorers and the native people may have had during their early encounters.
  • Reflect on how a colonial child's life would be different from a child of this age. Categories for comparison could be daily life, manners, education, parental expectations and/ or toys.
  • Compare and contrast why the British saw the Declaration of Independence as an act of war and the colonist as a document that announced why they could no longer survive under British rule.
  • Create a chart that illustrates the various responses of African- Americans, Indians, and indentured servants to the events and ideas connected to the Revolutionary War
  • Compare and contrast children's experiences in the North, South, and West in early American history.


  • Predict how early encounters between Natives and Europeans would lead to dramatic changes for the native cultures and the geography of their land.
  • Read different stories about Pocahontas and discuss what is different about the stories and speculate on why students think these differences exist.
  • Write a diary entry imagining the fears and expectations of a person sold into slavery.
  • Read a piece of historical fiction and discuss what is fact and what is the author's interpretation about the event or character.

Determining Historical/ Geographical Significance

  • Determine the events which led to the Age of Exploration. Chart the effect it was to have on the change in economics, people, and geography of North America.
  • Write an essay on how geography and the types of people who settled in Jamestown and Plymouth led to the success and failure of those colonies.
  • Read the Declaration of Independence and list four major reasons colonists felt they had the right to create their own government. For each reason, state whether you agree or disagree with the colonists' point of view
  • List the three most important people in the American Revolution and explain why you think they are the most important.
  • Study the 3/5 compromise in the Constitution. Explain why this compromise was made and how it changed American history.

California History-Social Science Framework

This course for grade five presents the story of the development of the nation, with emphasis on the period up to 1850. This course focuses on one of the most remarkable stories in history: the creation of a new nation, peopled by immigrants from all parts of the globe and governed by institutions founded on the Judeo-Christian heritage, the ideals of the Enlightenment, and English traditions of self-government. This experiment was inspired by the innovative dream of building a new society, a new order for the ages, in which the promises of the Declaration of Independence would be realized.

Wherever possible, events should be seen through the eyes of participants such as explorers, American Indians, colonists, free blacks and slaves, children, or pioneers. The narrative for the year must reflect the experiences of different racial, religious, and ethnic groups.

The Land and People Before Columbus

In this unit students examine major pre-Columbian settlements: the cliff dwellers and pueblo people of the desert Southwest; the American Indians of the Pacific Northwest; the nomadic tribes of the Great Plains; and the woodland peoples east of the Mississippi. Students should learn how these people adjusted to their natural environment; developed an economy and system of government; and expressed their culture in art, music, and dance. Students should be introduced to the rich mythology and literature of American Indian cultures.

Age of Exploration

In this unit students will concentrate on European explorers who sought trade routes, economic gain, adventure, national glory, and "the greater glory of God." Tracing the routes of these explorers on the globe should encourage discussion of the technological developments that made this age of exploration possible: the compass, the astrolabe, and seaworthy ships. Students might imagine how these explorers and their crews might have felt when they left charted seas to explore the unknown. What happened when they encountered indigenous people? How were they received when they returned home not with exotic spices and silk, but with native people, animals, plants, and even gold?

Settling the Colonies

A brief survey should be made of French, Portuguese, and Spanish colonization in the New World. Major emphasis should then be placed on the English colonies where the political values and institutions of the new nation were shaped.

The Virginia Settlement. In light of the failure of its predecessors, the settlement of Jamestown was a risky venture. The struggle to survive was led by Captain John Smith, who refused food to laggards. He directed the digging of wells, the planting of crops, and the construction of shelter The economy at Jamestown was perilous until John Rolfe introduced West Indian tobacco, which became the foundation of the plantation economy. Students can explore the implications of this event. Why was tobacco grown on large plantations? What type of work force was required? What was an indentured servant? What was the social life of the plantation?

Students will learn of the first Africans who were brought to the colony in 1619. During the seventeenth century some Africans were indentured, some were enslaved, and some were free. Changing economic conditions increasingly caused tobacco planters to turn to slavery as a major source of reliable though costly labor Map study will clarify the eighteenth century Atlantic trade that linked Africa, the West Indies, the British colonies, and Europe. Students should use their growing sense of historical empathy to imagine how these young men and women felt, having been stolen from their families, carried across the ocean in a brutal voyage to a strange land, and then sold into bondage. This is an appropriate time to reflect on the meaning of slavery both as a legal institution and as an extreme violation of human rights. Original documents such as brief excerpts from slave narratives and from southern statutes and laws concerning the treatment of slaves should be used.

In their study of Virginia, students should understand the importance of the House of Burgesses as the first representative assembly in the colonies. Who was allowed to vote? Who was excluded? They also should learn the meaning of the established church.

Life in New England. New England provided a dramatic contrast with the southern colonies. This was a region settled by two groups of Puritans who sought a life based on their religious beliefs: the separatist Pilgrims who broke with the Church of England and the Puritans who sought to reform the church from within.

The story of the Pilgrims begins with their flight from England in search of religious freedom, their temporary haven in the Nether lands, and their voyage to the New World aboard the Mayflower. The Pilgrims' religious beliefs and their persecution by the Church of England should be fully discussed. After an arduous trip they joined in signing the Mayflower Compact, a first step toward self-government. In keeping with the times, women were not asked to sign. Why not? This is an opportunity to discuss what self-government means and to reflect on the importance of the right to vote.

Life in the new land was hard, and at first the Indians aided the settlers. In time the Pilgrim colonies became well established despite bloody conflicts with the indigenous people. Students should learn about the political, religious, economic, and social life of the colonies. They should be helped to envision their simple homes and the rigors of each day. They should analyze the work of men, women, and children and see how butter was churned, cloth was dyed, and soap and candles were made; they should see the hornbooks from which children learned their ABCs. By dramatizing a day in a colonial school, students will gain an under standing of the children's lives in this period the way they learned, and disciplinary practices of that time.

The story of the Puritans is equally important in light of their enduring influence on American literature, education, and attitudes toward life and work. Inspired by their religious zeal, Puritans sought to establish a new Zion, "a city upon a hill," where they might live out their religious ideals. Led by John Winthrop, they founded the city of Boston and within ten years had opened Harvard College and the first common school in Massachusetts. They valued hard work, social obligation, simple living, and self-governing congregations. Their religious views shaped their way of life, their clothing, their laws, their forms of punishment, their educational practices, and their institutions of self-government. While they came in pursuit of freedom of religion, however, the Puritans were intolerant of dissent. The stories of Anne Hutchinson and Roger Williams are milestones in the development of religious freedom in Connecticut and Rhode Island.

The Middle Colonies. The colonies of New Amsterdam, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Delaware provided havens for a wide variety of ethnic, linguistic, and religious groups, including English, Dutch, Swedish, German, Irish, Scottish, Catholic, and Jewish settlers. Special attention should be paid to Pennsylvania, where William Penn founded a Quaker colony that practiced religious freedom and representative government. Industrious farmers, fur traders, skilled craftspersons, merchants, bankers, shipbuilders, and overseas traders made the colony prosperous. Geographic factors enabled the middle colonies to thrive and contributed to the development of New York and Philadelphia as busy seaports. Excerpts from Benjamin Franklin's Autobiography and Poor Richard's Almanac, his story, "The Whistle," as well as Margaret Cousins's Ben Franklin of Old Philadelphia should give students a sense of these times.

Settling the Trans-Appalachian West Biographies of Daniel Boone will introduce children to English forays into the French territory west of the Appalachian Mountains and to the French and Indian War in which Boone served. Students should learn about the importance of the war in shattering French power in North America. The English attempt to reserve the land west of the Appalachians for the inland Indian nations failed. Students should follow the exploits of pathfinders such as Daniel Boone and read about the settlers who followed his trail over the Cumberland, Gap into Kentucky They should consider the viewpoint of the American Indians who occupied these same lands and read about the conflicts between the Indians and Kentucky settlers that followed the outbreak of the Revolutionary War. This frontier period is rich in biographies tall tales, legends, songs, and handicrafts, which help to make this period vivid for students.

The War for Independence

Events leading to the Revolutionary War should be presented as a dramatic story. Each effort by the British to impose their will on the colonies resulted in a strong counter reaction and a growing spirit of independence. Students should become familiar with the Stamp Act of 1765 and the outraged colonial reaction to it; the Townshend Acts that again stirred protest and led to the Boston Massacre; and the tax on tea that provoked the Boston Tea Party. Parliament's efforts to repress dissent led to the first Continental Congress of 1774 and the Committees of Correspondence that established communication among the colonies and developed a national consciousness.

In discussing the conflict, students should read excerpts from speeches in the Parliament by William Pitt and Edmund Burke, whose pleas for moderation were ignored. Students should realize that some colonists remained loyal to King George III. Major events in the Revolution should be vividly described, including the battles of Bunker Hill, Lexington, and Concord; the selection of George Washington to command the army; and Patrick Henry's famous appeal to his fellow legislators to support the fight. The role of free blacks in the battles of the American Revolution should be considered. Students should learn about Abigail Adams, Molly Pitcher, Nathan Hale, and Benedict Arnold; and they should understand the significance of the events at Valley Forge, the alliance with France, and the final battle at Yorktown.

As the war began, young Thomas Jefferson drafted the Declaration of Independence with its idealistic statements that all men are created equal and that governments derive their just power from the consent of the governed. Students should understand the courage required of those who signed this document because they risked their lives and property. Many Americans realized for the first time the contradiction between these ideals and slavery. After the war the northeastern and middle Atlantic states abolished slavery, and the Northwest Ordinance of 1787 banned slavery from the new territories north of the Ohio River The antislavery movement did not, however, significantly affect the South, where nine out of ten American slaves lived.

To deepen their understanding of this period, students should read biographies of leaders such as George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin; they should also read Ralph Waldo Emerson's "Concord Hymn " Henry Wadsworth Longfellow's "Paul Revere's Ride," and fine historical fiction such as Esther Forbes's Johnny Tremain, Patricia Clapp's I'm Deborah Sampson: A Soldier in the War of the Revolution, and James L. Collier's My Brother Sam Is Dead. life in the Young Republic

In this unit students examine the daily lives of those who built the young republic under the new Constitution. Between 1789 and 1850, new waves of immigrants arrived from Europe, especially English, Scots-Irish, Irish, and Germans. Traveling by overland wagons, canals, flatboats, and steamboats, these newcomers advanced into the fertile Ohio and Mississippi valleys and through the Cumberland Gap to the South. Students should sing the songs of the boatmen and pioneers and read the tall tales of legendary figures such as Mike Fink and Paul Bunyan. They should read Ingri and Edgar D'Aulaire's Abraham Lincoln, which describes his boyhood in Illinois during this period, and books such as Enid Meadowcroft's By Wagon and Flatboat. They should learn about the Louisiana Purchase and the expeditions of Lewis and Clark and of John C. Fremont. Students should learn about the resistance of American Indian tribes to encroachments by settlers and about the government's policy of Indian removal to lands west of the Mississippi. Students can study these events by reading the biographies of leaders such as Chief Tecumseh of the Shawnee, Chief John Ross of the Cherokee tribe, and Chief Osceola of the Seminole tribe, as well as the tragic story of the Cherokees' "Trail of Tears."

The New Nation's Westward Expansion

In this unit students examine the advance of pioneer settlements beyond the Mississippi. The flow of migration westward included grizzled fur traders and mountain men, settlers heading for Texas, Mormon families on their way to the new Zion in Utah, mid-western farmers moving to western Oregon's fertile valleys, and forty-niners bound for the Mother Lode region of California. Not to be forgotten are the whalers, New England sailors engaged in the hide and tallow trade with California, and sea traders in furs (sea otter and seal) who plied their clipper ships around Cape Horn and westward to the Pacific.

This is a period rich with folk songs and sea chanteys, folklore, tall tales, and the journals and diaries that bring this period to life. Students might dramatize the experience of moving west to Oregon by wagon train. Excerpts from Francis Parkman's The Oregon Trail and from children's literature will help the children understand how the expeditions were organized, how a trail was scouted, where the trail ran, and what physical dangers the pioneers faced: hostile Indians, raging rivers, parched deserts, sandstorms and snowstorms, and lack of water or medicine.

Students should compare this trail with the California overland trail, the trail to Santa Fe, and the trail to Texas, comparing each time the purpose of the journey; where the trail ran; the influence geographic terrain, rivers, vegetation, and climate; and life in the territories at the end of these trails. Students should compare these westward migrations with the continuing northward migrations of Mexican settlers into these great Mexican territories of the West and the Southwest. While learning about life on the trail, students should discuss the reactions of the American Indians to the increasing migration and the reasons for their growing concern. Pioneer women played varied roles in coping with the rigors of daily life on the frontier. Biographies, journals, and diaries disclose the strength and resourcefulness of pioneer women who helped to farm the land and worked as missionaries, teachers, and entrepreneurs. Many slave women gained their freedom in the West. In recognition of the new status that western women achieved, Wyoming in 1869 became the first state to grant suffrage to women.

Maps should be used to explain how and when California, Texas, and other western lands became part of the United States. Settlement was followed by battles for independence. The war with Mexico led to cession of these territories, which then became states. These events provide important opportunities to focus on the Hispanic people of California and the Southwest, on the effects of these events on their lives, and on their distinctive contributions to American culture. Students should also learn how the Oregon boundary conflict was settled by negotiation with England and how that territory became a state.

Linking Past to Present: The American People, Then and Now

In this unit students examine the contributions of the different groups that built the American nation and, in the process, became a new people. Students should understand that we are a people of many races, many religions, and many different national origins and that we live under a common governmental system. While this unit does not include a formal study of the Civil War, students should realize how and when slavery was brought to an end in the United States. They should also learn about the significant contributions that black men and women made to the economic, political, and cultural development of the nation, including its music, literature, art, science, medicine, technology, and scholarship.

Students should learn about the successive waves of new immigration over the years from 1850 until today. Each wave brought new people, new skills, and new cultural contributions to the development of the nation. Immigrants came from Ireland, Germany, Sweden, Norway, Italy, Russia, Poland, Hungary, China, Japan, the Philippines, the West Indies, Mexico, Greece, India, Cuba, and eventually from every corner of the globe. Immigrants farmed the plains, introduced new arts and crafts, built the railroads, developed the great southwestern mines, manned the construction industry and the steel industry, fueled the nation's industrial growth, wrote great literature and music, produced brilliant Scientists, created the entertainment industry, and provided human resources to transform the nation's economic. cultural, and social life. Students should identify the immigrants' countries of origin and locate the regions of the nation where they settled.

To understand the human side of the great drama of migration, students should read literature such as Russell Freedman's Immigrant Kids, Marietta Moskin's Waiting for Mama, Marilyn Sachs's Call Me Ruth, Karen Branson's Streets of Gold, Leonard Fisher's Across the Sea from Galway, and Charlene Talbot's An Orphan for Nebraska. They should see similar dramas re-created in the lives of recent immigrants, including Ann N. Clark's To Stand Against the Wind, the story of Vietnamese immigrants to America.

The newcomers often encountered discrimination because of their race, religion, or cultural traditions. They often faced hardships as they learned the new language and adjusted to a new way of life; but even more often they found the opportunity to make a new life in a land where ability and hard work enabled them to get ahead.

To understand the continuing attraction of immigrants to the United States, students should become familiar with the tenets of the American creed by discussing the meaning of key phrases in the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights. Students should read Emma Lazarus's poem, "The New Colossus," which is attached to the Statue of Liberty, and consider the meaning of symbols such as the statue and the phrase, e pluribus unum.

After a year of studying American history, students should be able to reflect on the ethical content of the nation's principles and on America's promise to its citizens-the promise of a democratic government in which the rights of the individual are protected by the government, by a free press, and by an informed public. America's ideals are closely related to the nature of American society. We are strong because we are united in a pluralistic society of many races, cultures, and ethnic groups; we have built a great nation because we have learned to live in peace with each other, respecting each other's right to be different and supporting each other as members of a common community.

Students should understand that the American creed calls on them to safeguard their freedoms and those of their neighbors, to value the nation's diversity, to work for change within the framework of law, and to do their part as citizens in contributing to the welfare of their community. To gain these understandings, students might interview elected public officials, invite volunteers from community organizations to talk about the work they do, and develop projects that can be helpful to others in their school and community. Such projects might include visits to senior citizens' centers and working on school and community beautification projects.

Throughout these activities, students should reflect on the importance of living up to the nation's ideals and of participating in the unfinished struggle to make these principles and ideals a reality for all.