Social Studies

Lorraine Lupinskie, Director

(631) 592-3183

The Half Hollow Hills Social Studies Program is dedicated to promoting historical thinking, geographic literacy, and reading and writing in the content area. Building on a series of concentric circles, beginning in kindergarten students learn about themselves, their families, communities both at home and around the world, their state, nation and, ultimately, the world. Purposeful social studies instruction helps students to assume their roles as responsible citizens and active contributors to our democracy. Throughout the K-12 program, the curriculum closely integrates technology and provides multiple opportunities for students to learn and practice essential learning and thinking skills, including collaboration, innovation, and problem solving. The social studies program addresses the New York State Social Studies Standards and teaching and learning reflects Common Core shifts and the New York State Social Studies Framework. The program is designed to provide understanding of historic, social, geographic, economic and political elements of communities, as well as of nations, both past and present and is enhanced through teaching cognitive skills: to think logically, analytically, and reflectively. Students are taught to think like an historian as they learn to source information, understand point of view and determine the reliability of a source and to corroborate and contextualize evidence.


Beginning in kindergarten the program integrates content, concepts and skills for later learning and life in a democracy. Skills developed relate to gathering, using and presenting information, considering differing points of view and interpretations of events, participating in interpersonal and group relations, and personal management. Helping students become aware of self evolves into understanding of relationships with others, at home, in school, and the wider community. Throughout the elementary program, students are introduced to the use of authentic primary source documents (photos, editorial cartoons, charts and graphs, etc.) with the goal of acquiring the skills needed to construct meaning and understanding. By grade 5 students develop a sense of the geographic, economic, social and political underpinnings of societies, with an emphasis on the countries of the Western Hemisphere.

We continue to emphasize the important "big ideas" that overarch the entire social studies curriculum. Teachers gear their social studies instruction to connect their individual lessons and units to these major understandings.

  • The world is a place that is organized and understandable.
  • All people are similar. All people are different.
  • Where we live affects how we live.
  • Our past helps us to understand how we live today.
  • How we live today will affect how others and we live in the future.

K – 5th grade is a critical time to work with students, developing the knowledge and skills that are foundational to later learning. As students process specific information related to the various topics they learn in social studies, it is important for them to make those critical thinking connections to the big ideas. In this way, they begin to see "the entire forest” instead of the individual trees and develop conceptual thinking, a significant skill for success in social studies at the secondary level. In addition, students begin to learn the skills of the historian including sourcing and corroboration.

Middle School

The 6th grade social studies curriculum emphasizes the Eastern Hemisphere, providing students with an understanding of the geographic, social, economic and political elements primarily of ancient and classical civilizations in this part of the world. In grades 7 and 8, students study the United States, beginning with understanding how Colonial America was a fusion of cultural elements of the New and Old Worlds and culminating with a consideration of recent events and concerns in our country. Civic values reflected in the US and New York State Constitutions, as well as rights and responsibilities of citizens are explored, and skills introduced in the primary grades are further developed. Throughout the middle school social studies experience, students are exploring primary and secondary sources, as well as mastering essential historical thinking skills such as sourcing and contextualization.

High School

New York State mandates four years of study in social studies with Regents assessments at the end of Grades 10 and 11. Students in the 9th and 10th grades take a comprehensive Global History and Geography course. Using a chronological framework, the major developments, contributions, and problems of the Western and non-Western worlds are explored. In Grade 11 the study of United States History and Government is revisited with greater emphasis on the relationship of our nation to the rest of the world since its inception. The social studies program culminates in Grade 12 with half year courses in Economics and Participation in Government. Students learn to think like historians, examining multiple sources of information in order to build knowledge and create and defend arguments.

In high school many students are also enrolled in social studies electives. Students may choose from such varied offerings as Media Literacy, Sports in American History, the Holocaust/Human Rights Genocide, Criminal Justice, Experiences in Law, Psychology, Sociology, and Ethics, as well as Advanced Placement Human Geography and Advanced Placement European History.