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Social Studies for September

By Naomi O'Brien


September….oh, September! The fun that we have during this month is unmatched (until next month, haha!) Let’s get into it. First: culture. We recognize Hispanic/Latinx Heritage Month. This month is such a powerful time! As always, we discover the history/immigration events that have occurred, and then we study notable figures! We lean heavily on books, videos, and our families that come in to share. During this time, we learn about the fascinating life of Alicia Alonso, a Cuban-American prima ballerina. Her amazing stories leave our students in awe every time. We also learn about the inventor of the ballpoint pin (Lazlo) and an early version of the color television (Camerena). There are so many great conversations and questions that come out of studying culture. Perspectives are widened empathy is gained.

For geography, we learn all about Ferdinand Magellan. We love getting the children on the map to show them the journey that he took. It automatically gives students the opportunity and context to discuss oceans and continents!

In economics, we focused on the concept of spending vs. saving. We talked about money, and how people might choose to save it or spend it- and the consequences of those choices. It was a nice reminder for the adults in the room as well!

Lastly, we learned about the history of sugar skulls. We were so fortunate to have had a staff member talk to us about this, as this was something that was a part of her culture. They explained that for some people, seeing sugar skulls being appropriated was really frustrating and upsetting for them. They told us about how they honor their dead relatives in this way, and they take it seriously. Lastly, we were told that seeing the sugar skulls as a scary Halloween costume was something that they appreciated. After hearing all of this, we thought it would be a great time to honor the historical value of sugar skulls. We read lots of books and gained an understanding. When our students learned about them, they were fascinated with the fact that different cultures have varied ways of dealing with death. They enjoyed learning about how the dead were celebrated with the sugar skulls. It was only after this that they engaged in an experience with a sugar skull. For a lot of classrooms, this part is skipped over…and they go straight to the “pretty craft.” That’s not what we wanted to do because when it comes to learning about culture…people… we should approach these topics with care and appreciation. As students were having an experience with creating a sugar skull, their conversations were so thoughtful. One child declared that he was going to be using orange and blue because his uncle had passed away and his uncle loved the Denver Broncos. It was a powerful experience…and it was so much more than “cute and fun.”

Hopefully, you’ve enjoyed taking a peek at the topics we’ve covered in September!



Hi, I'm Naomi

I have been teaching elementary students for over 10 years. Effective reading instruction and accurate social studies at the primary level are huge passions of mine! 

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