Harcourt Social Studies

Elementary Social Studies Curriculum Grades Pre-K–7

HMH Professional Services
  • Why?

    Reading Skill Development and Reinforcement

    Each unit is organized around a Big Idea, a major social studies concept that is illustrated with real‐world photography or artwork, setting the stage for each unit. What to Know Essential Questions guide students and set a purpose for reading, while the Unit Preview uses rich visuals to introduce time, place, and key people for a solid foundation for new content ahead. Reading Social Studies focuses on a specific reading skill to help students get the most out of the content. Accompanied by a graphic organizer for active learning, students learn Why it Matters, and are guided through a clear 3-step process of learn, practice, and apply. Within lessons, Reading Focus Skills are explicitly addressed and assessed. Write-On/Wipe-Off Cards present the Reading Focus Skill graphic organizer from each unit, and these placemat-sized cards can be used for interactive lessons and review.

    Skill Lessons That Develop Citizen Participation

    Harcourt Social Studies was created to help develop thoughtful, participating citizens and reinforce democratic values. With features like Biographies, Point-of-View, Primary Sources, Citizenship Skills, Study Skills, and Critical Thinking Skills, students are encouraged to acquire, analyze, and apply knowledge to solve problems, make thoughtful decisions, pose questions of their own, and tell fact from opinion. These skills are at the core of helping them to become 21st-century global citizens.

    Hands-on, Minds-on Engagement in Social Studies

    In addition to print and technology, social studies can be delivered through engaging projects and activities. Throughout the program, many short-term and long-term projects to meet your curriculum goals are suggested. Components like the TimeLinks Interactive Time Line provide activity-centered instruction, as do other program resources like Interactive Atlases, Interactive Desk Maps, and Interactive Map Transparencies.

    Technology Integration and Digital Learning

    Harcourt Social Studies provides innovative and flexible digital teaching and learning tools. For students, interactive eBooks, Audio Texts, Online Leveled Readers, and the Learning Site provide digital natives with fun ways to reinforce and extend the content. For teachers, the Online Assessments, ePlanners, video selections, and Electronic Interactive Presentations provide the tools to plan, teach, and assess.

    Reaching All Learners

    Today’s classroom is more diverse than ever, and Harcourt Social Studies strives to use the social studies as a platform for oral language development for English language learners and students with special needs. Inclusion and respect for others is a key element that is readily apparent throughout the program, whether in the core materials, or through additional resources like the Reading Support and Intervention, Success for English Language Learners, Picture Word Cards, or online Audio Texts.

    Explore More

    • Interactive Brochure

      Experience Harcourt Social Studies and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Center for Civic Education through an innovative Interactive Brochure! Watch Harcourt Social Studies and Houghton Mifflin Harcourt and the Center for Civic Education come alive with embedded interactive links. Sample videos, technology demonstrations, and more are just a click away! 



      Interactive Brochures
      Interactive Brochures
    • Common Core Standards

      With today’s emphasis on Common Core State Standards, it is more important than ever to have all programs meets the rigor these standards demand. Harcourt Social Studies exposes students to the skills and understandings necessary for college and career readiness and helps them become literate, in all its forms, in the 21st century.

      College and Career Readiness Anchor Standards


      Key Ideas and Details

      Using key skills like determining main idea from supporting detail, comparing and contrasting, and drawing conclusions, students will actively look for text evidence in support of learning objectives. Complete skill lessons in Harcourt Social Studies teach these explicitly, and ample applications allow students to demonstrate their knowledge through their reading of literature and informational texts.

      Craft and Structure

      Harcourt Social Studies teaches students how to read text with particular guidance and practice on key skills like telling fact from fiction and comparing primary and secondary sources, and analyzing point of view. This focus allows students to understand and compare points-of-view as they interpret a variety of sources.

      Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

      Harcourt Social Studies offers students continuous opportunities to access a variety of sources—print, audio, visual, interactive media, and video—and in turn to analyze, compare, and assess them in 21st-century applications. Students can demonstrate their understanding in a variety of outcomes.

      Range of Reading and Level of Text Complexity

      Harcourt Social Studies offers students a wealth of text genres in the Student Editions, related print and online support material, and reading collections: leveled readers, independent readers, and biographies to support all levels of readers.


      Text Types and Purposes

      Harcourt Social Studies is committed to the student writing process with skills and lessons to support them every step of the way. Ample and varied writing can be found in formative assessment, informal assessment, formal assessment, and portfolio opportunities.

      Production and Distribution of Writing

      Whether in print or online, Harcourt Social Studies offers a variety of writing opportunities and platforms for students to research and publish their writing.

      Research to Build and Present Knowledge

      Harcourt Social Studies provides a variety of opportunities— individual and cooperative--that culminate in students critically reading, researching, and responding to text and supporting their written argument with analysis and text evidence.

      Range of Writing

      Harcourt Social Studies offers a variety of writing projects—both short term and long term—to support the different needs of today’s classrooms and schedules. Students demonstrate their knowledge for a range of tasks, purposes, and audiences.

      Speaking and Listening

      Comprehension and Collaboration

      Interpersonal skills are highlighted as students participate in meaningful discussion and dialogues in what they read, what they think, and how would they respond to different learning objectives. Harcourt Social Studies incorporates the analytical process through multiple informational formats and points-of-view.

      Presentation of Knowledge and Ideas

      Harcourt Social Studies encourages student demonstration of learning through a variety of speaking and presentation modes, including the use of evidence and visuals where appropriate.

    • C3 Framework

      C3 Framework Whitepaper

      Research shows us that fewer and fewer students are receiving a high quality social studies education, despite the central role of social studies in preparing them for the responsibilities of citizenship.

      The new College, Career, and Civic Life Framework for Social Studies State Standards was developed with this in mind, and changes the focus of how social studies is taught in the classroom.

      The result of a three year state-led collaborative effort, the C3 Framework has been developed to enhance the rigor of the social studies disciplines, while building the critical thinking, problem solving, and participatory skills necessary for students to become engaged citizens. The C3 Framework also serves to align academic programs to the Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts and Literacy in History/Social Studies.

      To find out more information about what the C3 Framework means for you in your classroom, download a free whitepaper that describes why the C3 Framework is necessary, what the guiding principles are, and how it is organized to engage students in active inquiry.

      C3 Framework Whitepaper (449 KB)

      For more information, or to download a complete copy of the C3 Framework, visit www.socialstudies.org/c3

    • Correlations

      Correlation to the Common Core State Standards, English Language Arts, Grades K–5

      Our World, Now and Long Ago, Grade K (502 KB)

      A Child's View, Grade 1 (428 KB)

      People We Know, Grade 2 (437 KB)

      Our Communities, Grade 3 (444 KB)

      States and Regions, Grade 4 (455 KB)

      The United States, Grade 5 (448 KB)

      The United States: Civil War to Present, Grade 5 (429 KB)

      The United States: Making a New Nation, Grade 5 (438 KB)

      Ancient Civilizations, Grades 4–5 (534 KB)

      World History, Grades 4–5 (473 KB)

      World Regions, Grades 4–5 (1.1 MB)

      Correlation to the Common Core State Standards Literacy in History/Social Studies, Grades 6–8

      World History, Grades 6–8 (446 KB)

      Ancient Civilizations, Grades 6–8 (457 KB)

      World Regions, Grades 6–8 (745 KB)

      C3 Framework Correlation Sampler

      People We Know (908 KB)

      The United States: Making a New Nation (972 KB)

    • Scope and Sequence

      Preview the skills taught throughout each unit and chapter.

      Grades K–12 (7.9MB)

      Grades 6–12 (5.8MB)

    • Authors

      Meet the team that has made Harcourt Social Studies the most engaging and relevant K–5 program for schools across the nation.

  • Features

    Harcourt Social Studies is a program designed to engage and motivate students with a story well told while integrating robust multimedia assets and hands-on activities. Designed to align to the standards, the program delivers the themes and skills that students need to become participating citizens with the global perspective required of true 21st-century learning.

    Teacher and student resources are available in print, online, and on CD/DVD providing the kind of anytime access to resources that today’s classroom environment demands. With this comprehensive coverage, the Harcourt Social Studies program guides the journey of discovery, connecting students to content like never before.

    Explore More

    • Reading Skill Development

      Reading in the social studies entails a variety of instructional strategies that provide access to the vocabulary and meanings embedded in social studies concepts, ideas, and themes. Students learn valuable connections between their lives and the social studies by successfully interacting with written texts and visual materials, including primary sources and artifacts.

      Unit and Lesson Openers

      Each unit begins with a Unit Opener, a Unit Preview, and a Reading Social Studies lesson. In Grades 3–5, units are broken into two or three chapters. Each chapter begins with a Study Skill feature and three vocabulary words that are represented with images. The Big Idea is illustrated with real-world photography or artwork, setting the stage for each unit. What to Know questions guide student learning and set a purpose for reading lesson content.

      Preview the Vocabulary

      Grades 1–2 provide a two-page spread of key vocabulary terms with photographs and definitions to help students relate to the meaning of the word. Page numbers are also provided, indicating where the term is taught. In the chapter opener for Grades 3–5, three vocabulary words are previewed with photographs or illustrations, and page references are also provided where the term is taught.

      Reading Social Studies

      Each Reading Social Studies unit feature focuses on a specific reading skill to help students get the most out of Social Studies content while reinforcing literacy. These skills are presented at the beginning of each unit with a graphic organizer. Students learn Why It Matters, and how this skill can help them approach non-fiction text. Each unit Reading Focus Skill is annotated with an icon, and includes crucial comprehension skills like Recall and Retell, Main Ideas and Details, Cause and Effect, and Draw Conclusions.

      Review and Assessment

      Continuous assessment to assure what students know and what they can do is a hallmark of the Harcourt Social Studies program. For all grades, complete Lesson Review features check comprehension and guide further instruction. Chapter Reviews in Grades 3–5, students thoroughly review the vocabulary using a variety of strategies. Varying levels of complexity and application are assessed in the Summarize the Content, Time Line, Facts and Main Ideas, Critical Thinking, Skills, and Writing sections. Unit Review and Test Prep reinforces these types of comprehension skills even further; preparing students for the types of questions they will see on high stakes exams.

    • Skills Lessons

      Harcourt Social Studies was created to help develop thoughtful, participating citizens and reinforce democratic values.  Skills lessons give students the opportunity to use Social Studies skills to acquire, analyze, and apply knowledge. These are the skills that are at the core of helping them to become 21st-century global citizens.


      Biographies highlight good character traits of individuals. Additional biographies and support are available online.


      This feature models active participation and reinforces core democratic values.


      Points-of-view encourages students to consider diverse opinions.

      Primary Sources

      Offer in-depth explorations of primary sources with DBQs, Write About It activities, and GoOnline links for more support on the Web.

      Study Skills

      Study Skills provide tools to help students engage and comprehend social studies, such as pose questions, and connect ideas, and organize information.

      Citizenship Skills

      Help students resolve conflicts and make economic choices.

      Critical Thinking Skills

      Critical Thinking Skills aids students acquiring, analyzing, and applying knowledge, such as problem solving, making thoughtful decisions, and tell fact from opinion.

    • Leveled Readers

      Leveled Readers (Grades K–5) can be used to extend unit themes and content. Each Student Edition unit has three Leveled Readers correlated to unit content, providing 18 readers at each grade level. These readers have been written for independent reading levels—below-level/intervention, on-level, and above-level. Teaching suggestions and copying masters are provided in the grade-level Teacher Edition and in the Leveled Readers Teacher Guide.

      Three Levels to Meet the Needs of All Students

      Below-level readers include extra vocabulary practice, while on-level and above-level readers reinforce and extend content with features like Think and Respond questions and an Activity. Comprehension skills and strategies from Harcourt Social Studies core lessons support students at their own personalized instructional level.

      Eight-Page Teacher Guide

      A Teacher's Guide is provided for every reader to provide further instruction and activities. Guided Reading Lesson Plan provides teaching support for Before-Reading, During-Reading, and After-Reading. Each guided reading lesson plan includes a black-line practice page to measure student comprehension of the content.

      Online Leveled Reader Database

      The Online Leveled Reader Database provides the same full-color content as the print collections, in downloadable electronic format with complete audio. Students and teachers can access anytime, anywhere for the extra support to ensure that every student can access the content.

    • Hands-On Engagement

      In addition to print and technology, social studies can be delivered through engaging projects and activities. Throughout the program, many short-term and long-term projects to meet your curriculum goals are suggested.

      Readers’ Theater

      Readers' Theater makes every student a star with motivating theater activities that build on social studies concepts. Each script includes multiple reading levels, color-coded by character name, for easy navigation and effective classroom management. The three-step lesson plan covers social studies and ELA standards while building effective vocabulary, comprehension, and fluency. Readers' Theater Program Kit includes 12 full-color copies of each multi-level script, 5 to 6 scripts per grade level, Director's Guide with complete teaching support and activities, Sturdy storage box with Spotlight, the theater dog.

      TimeLinks Time Line

      The TimeLinks: Interactive Time Lines help students interpret events in relation to time. Event Cards are provided so students can add relevant items to the time line throughout the year. The time line can be used in segments or assembled as a classroom border or bulletin board. A Teacher Guide is also included.

      Art Readers Theater

      Interactive Write-on Resources

      The Interactive Atlas, perfect for instruction in both small and large groups, contains oversized laminated pages on a self-standing easel. Interactive Desk Maps include outline maps of the United States and The World, enabling students to practice mapping skills. Write-On/Wipe-Off Cards presents the Reading Focus Skill graphic organizer from each unit. These laminated placemat size cards can be used for interactive lessons and review.

      Social Studies in Action: Resources for the Classroom

      Includes a variety of engaging activities to bring social studies to life. Each unit of instruction is supported with resources for dramatic presentation, simulations, games, performance, production, writing projects, activities for geography, economics, citizenship, and character education. Long-term and short-term projects are suggested for each unit.

      Interactive Atlas
    • Integrated Technology

      Harcourt Social Studies provides innovative and flexible digital teaching and learning tools to reinforce, enrich, and extend learning.

      Harcourt Travel Center

      The Learning Site

      The Learning Site is your destination for additional online resources that enhance learning opportunities with audiovisual support. A variety of engaging activities and interactive resources directly link to individual lessons. Here you will find a wealth of resources including: Atlas, Primary Sources, State Information, Geography Glossary, Virtual Tours, Multimedia Biographies, Skills Activities, and resources for parents and teachers.

      Harcourt Book

      Online Student Edition eBook

      Student Edition eBooks bring social studies to life with easy navigability and point-of-use multimedia, accessible anywhere, at anytime. The eBook features: full audio read of the text, highlighted vocabulary with pop-up definitions, interactive features including maps, time lines, and illustrations, printable lesson reviews, and links to the Learning Site.

      Hargourt ePlanner

      Online ePlanner

      Online ePlanner allows teachers to access their complete planning resources online. Teachers can schedule assignments on a calendar, preview and print copying master pages, and utilize web‐based tools that include pages from the Homework and Practice Book and Reading Support and Intervention.

      Harcourt OSP

      One-Stop Planner for Teachers

      The One-Stop Planner for Teachers: Calendar Planner and Teacher Resources CD-ROM makes planning easy at home or at school. Teachers can review the Teacher Edition pages electronically and print the desired lesson resources. The calendar feature allows teachers to schedule lessons by content or to select lessons by standards. Transparencies and worksheets can be projected for whole-group instruction or for use with interactive white boards.

      Harcourt Assess CD-ROM

      Assessment on CD-ROM

      Assessment on CD-ROM allows teachers to easily create customized tests. Teachers can choose questions from the Harcourt Social Studies item bank or can create their own test questions and then print them out. Easy-to-use tools, including a word processor for authoring text, enable teachers to create assessments with ExamView® technology.

      Additional Technology Resources

      In addition to the components listed above, Harcourt Social Studies provides these engaging technology tools to enrich and reinforce key content and skills:

      • Student Edition Audiotext Collection
      • Leveled Readers Audiotext Collection
      • GeoSkills CD-ROM
      • The Multimedia Biographies CD
      • Start with a Video DVD
      • Electronic Interactive Presentations
      • Harcourt Online Assessment
      • The Social Studies Music Collection CD Set
    • Differentiated Instruction

      Today’s classroom is more diverse than ever, and Harcourt Social Studies strives to use the social studies as a platform for oral language development for English language learners and students with special needs.

      Teacher’s Edition

      The Teacher's Edition provides special features and tips to help ensure that all students master the content. Leveled practice and alternate lessons are suggested for preparing assignments for varying types of learners, including English language learners. Reach All Learners unit overviews, as well as boxes along the bottom of the lesson pages, provide activities for the varying needs of individual students. Leveled practice activities offer separate but related tasks for students at basic, proficient, and advanced levels.

      Reading Support and Intervention

      Reading Support and Intervention provides suggestions for before-reading, during-reading, and after-reading support for every lesson. This component also includes student practice review not only for vocabulary terms but also related terms with which some students may have difficulty. Phonemic awareness activities are provided for Grades 1 and 2.

      Success for English Language Learners

      Success for English Learners provides support for teachers using the Harcourt Social Studies program. Social Studies concepts are abstract and require prior knowledge that is culture-specific. Whereas English speakers may readily understand American cultural references, these will be unfamiliar to students who are English learners from other countries. Instructional strategies and suggestions are provided unit-by-unit and lesson-by-lesson to help English learners achieve academic success.

      Vocabulary Picture Cards

      For those students who learn best visually, these large cards provide photo or artwork is shown representing the vocabulary word on the front, while on the back of the card, the definition from the Student Edition glossary and some questions are provided. The back also shows three additional vocabulary words with related images to help students build background and increase understanding.

      Harcourt Homework and Practice Book

      Homework and Practice Books

      Provides activities to reinforce each lesson in the Student Edition. Graphic organizers are provided for the Reading Social Studies Focus Skills activities. Study Guides help students review chapter content and vocabulary.

    • Trade Libraries

      Award-Winning Titles for Content-Area Reading!

      Harcourt Social Studies - Trade Libraries

      These social studies trade book libraries provide engaging, award-winning trade books to help students build content-area reading skills and learn more about key social studies topics. Use them to introduce content-area concepts, for additional background, or for independent reading.

      These Notable Social Studies Trade Books for Young People Are Recommended by the National Council of Social Studies.

      The Premier Collection includes selected popular, award-winning, and classic titles that endure year after year, such as Caldecott Medal® Honors, Newbery® winners, and other best-selling classics like Johnny Tremain, Jubilee, and Castle. NCSS Recommended Collections include notable social studies trade books for young people as selected by the Book Review Committee of the National Council for Social Studies.

      For pricing and purchasing information, contact your local Account Executive at 888.225.5425.

    • Current Events

      HMH In the News

      HMH In the News is an online current events site for K–5 students and teachers.

      This free website delivers age-appropriate current events stories every month, and users can choose from three designs to customize the homepage.


      • Enjoy stories written for different levels of readers
      • Come back often for new stories, spotlight features, and polls
      • Search archived stories by keyword or by word cloud
      • Up‐to‐date calendar with holidays and annual events included to help students learn about these important dates
      Visit the Site
  • Resources

    Explore Houghton Mifflin Harcourt’s social studies resources for more information about this comprehensive K–5 curriculum solution.

    Readability Scores

    The term "readability" refers to all the factors that affect success in reading and understanding a text. 

    These factors include:

    • The interest and motivation of the readers
    • The legibility of the print and illustrations
    • The complexity of words and sentences in relation to the reading ability.

    Though all of these factors combined affect the readability of a text, the last factor is the only factor that is calculated by common "Readability Formulas." Detriments to readability can include material that is poorly printed, contains complex sentence structures, long words, or too much material containing entirely new ideas.

    Read the Report (942k)

  • HMH Professional Services

    Our Mission Is to Advance Yours

    HMH Professional Services forges student-centered partnerships with schools and districts in the belief that all learners deserve a quality education and the opportunity for lifelong success.

    HMH Professional Services includes teachers, leaders, and technologists. Our Professional Learning Consultants become part of your team, working right beside you to build and implement professional learning plans that respect the unique needs and culture of your school or district community. Through program, practice, and technical services, we work collaboratively to unlock the full potential of every student, teacher, and leader.

    Comprehensive Services for K–12 Educators

    We offer teachers and instructional leaders a full suite of learning and support to deepen their mastery and hone their teaching skills throughout the school year.


    Visit us at hmhco.com/professionalservices to learn more.

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