Appropriate social studies topics for fifth graders include U.S. history and geography, civics and government, and economics. Social studies topics must align with educational standards. Although Common Core standards for social studies do not start until sixth grade - fifth grade social studies standards are an integrated part of the Common Core K-5 reading standards – several states have state standards for fifth-grade social studies.
State standards for fifth-grade social studies in North Carolina, Arizona, Colorado and California focus on the same general topics: U.S. history, geography, government and economics.
The North Carolina Essential Standards for fifth-grade social studies require a focus on national U.S. history beginning with indigenous American Indians before the arrival of Europeans and ending with the Civil War. The history provides the context for beginning studies of environmentalism and economics, moving into personal finance. Other topics include U.S. geography, government and culture.
Arizona's state standards also focus on the same time period in U.S. history, but add study on exploration and rebellion throughout the world. History research skills, foundations of government and of economics, and map reading are other topics.
In Colorado, U.S. history is studied only through the founding of the country. Emphasis is on the competencies of analyzing historical sources from multiple points of view to understand the context. U.S. geography, including the causes and consequences of migration, is another topic. Civics topics include U.S. citizenship and the foundations of government. In economics, students learn how government and markets influence financial institutions and how to use financial institutions in personal finance.
California students learn U.S history up to 1850, with a focus on major pre-Columbian settlements and immigrants, specifically where the immigrants were from and why they came to the United States.