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History-Social Science in Eighth Grade

Parents - what your child is expected to learn in eighth grade

What You Need to Know:

Students in eighth grade history-social science study United States history from the founding of the republic through industrialization, roughly from the 1780s through the 1880s.  Typically, students begin learning about the United States at the time of the American Revolution on the eastern seaboard, and then they explore American expansion and economic development, slavery, the Civil War and Reconstruction, and finally, industrialization and immigration.  Eighth grade is the year that students study most closely the ideas, people, and documents that are foundational to the U.S. government.  It is also the year that students learn about the significant role that slavery and dispossession of Native Americans from their homeland played in the development of the country.  For this reason, students learn in eighth grade that some of the greatest paradoxes in American history include the simultaneous development of liberty and chattel slavery.  Some of the questions that students consider in eighth grade are:

  • What did freedom mean to the nation’s founders, and how did it change over time?
  • How and why did the United States expand?
  • Who is considered an American?

Between April and June:

Between April and June, students might:

  • Look through this set of sources that compares the immigrant experience at Ellis Island and Angel Island (8.12).
  • Learn about why slavery was the cause of the American Civil War with this lesson.
  • Read through important documents housed at the National Archives and do online activities that bring alive the meaning of the Constitution.
  • Learn about the ways that slaves emancipated themselves during and after the Civil War.

Lessons and Source Sets: 

Founding of the US (8th grade lesson)
The Civil War (8th grade multi-lesson unit)
Western Expansion (8th grade lesson)