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Social Studies

The Keys Social Studies program engages students in the authentic work of historians and social scientists. Using historical documents, interviews, oral histories, photographs, artworks, and artifacts, students are challenged to reconstruct and reconsider the past. At every grade they are encouraged to ask questions, challenge assumptions, weigh evidence, and consider multiple perspectives in the quest for the “whole truth.”

Social Studies is interdisciplinary at heart. Keys' approach also leverages meaningful connections with science, math, language arts, technology, and the arts. Complex questions are investigated from varied perspectives using simulations, dramatizations, field investigations, project work, and extended inquiry. Ongoing current events work challenges students to better understand and engage with a dynamic, interconnected, and global 21st century world.

Highlights of the program include:


  • » understand the responsibilities of community members
  • » Honor and express individuality, family traditions, cultural heritage
  • » Identify people who help, and the specialized tools and skills they use
  • » Explore examples of kindness, honor, and bravery throughout history
  • » Investigate community needs and participate in service project

First Grade

  • » Investigate homes across time and regions
  • » Explore the past, present and future of transportation
  • » Create and run a school-wide post office
  • » Track how and where food is produced
  • » Survey, map, design, and build a community

Second Grade

  • » Consider the concept of identity as it relates to one's past, present, and future
  • » Create records of personal and family histories
  • » Explore democratic ideals, practices, and institutions
  • » Use simulations to learn how decisions are made and laws created
  • » Investigate individuals who overcame, innovated, or inspired change

Third Grade

  • » Understand the dynamic nature of cultural formation and transformation
  • » Explore how geography, politics, conflict, economics affect human settlement
  • » Research the immigrant experience through interviews, primary sources, trips
  • » Examine the motivations, experiences, and contributions of immigrants
  • » Follow current events to learn about the international community

Fourth Grade

  • » Investigate how the environment shapes, and is shaped by, human settlement
  • » Explore social, political, and economic change arising from cultural “collisions”
  • » Analyze periods of intense change in California history (missions, Gold Rush, railroads, Silicon Valley)
  • » Analyze artifacts, photos, documents to gather information about the past
  • » Reconstruct and reconsider historical accounts in light of current information

Fifth Grade

  • » Explore the interdependence of individuals, societies, and environments
  • » Investigate multiple perspectives surrounding the discovery of America
  • » Analyze the complex causes and results of the American Revolution
  • » Examine slavery and key individuals who worked to abolish it
  • » Identify the rights and responsibilities afforded by the U.S. Constitution

Sixth Grade

  • » Investigate human evolution and hominid ancestors
  • » Analyze the transition from hunting and gathering to farming and trading
  • » Understand the roots of democracy in ancient Greece
  • » Examine the rise and fall of ancient civilizations (Mesopotamia, Egypt)
  • » Investigate how bridges serve as cultural icons and how society responds to structural disasters

Seventh Grade

  • » Explore the dynamics of social and cultural change during Medieval Times
  • » Analyze global issues giving rise to conflict and social stratification
  • » Examine the influence of geography and environment on cultures
  • » Use inquiry-based thinking to compare cultures of selected regions of the world
  • » Analyze arguments from multiple perspectives; take an oral or written stance using evidence to support claims

Eighth Grade

  • » Identify key people, ideas, and events in early development of the United States
  • » Examine the roles of different contributors to American society
  • » Explore the interaction between the US Justice System and society over time
  • » Understand and apply the processes used to create and interpret history
  • » Conduct extended inquiry, weighing multiple perspectives, drawing evidence-based conclusions, and composing persuasive written and oral arguments

Keys School - Lower Campus · 2890 Middlefield Road · Palo Alto, CA · 94306
Keys School - Middle Campus · 3981 El Camino Real · Palo Alto, CA · 94306

Phone: 650-328-1711