Grade 3 Students Dive Deep Into D.C. History

You may have heard about some interesting field trips happening at Maury: the Capitol, the National Gallery of Art, and the National Portrait Gallery, coming up in December. When you go to school in Capitol Hill, there’s a lot to see just in your own backyard.

As part of the social studies curriculum in Grade 3, students learn the history and geography of Washington, D.C. They started the unit by reading about D.C. history, including a book called The Capitol Building. Through some careful observation, the students found Maury in one of the photographs in the book.

“This really sparked their interest,” says Ms. Carr, who teaches math, science, and social studies in Grade 3.

Students get a closer look at the plaster model of the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the U.S. Capitol.

Students get a closer look at the plaster model of the Statue of Freedom that sits atop the U.S. Capitol dome.

On trips to Lincoln Park and the Capitol, students learned more about architectural details and how to study statues for meaning and context.

“It’s about really seeing the places that you walk by every day. After reading about George Washington and Abraham Lincoln, students started making the connections: ‘Ahhh, Washington, D.C. and Lincoln Park.’ The kids saw a statue of [Civil War general] Robert Gould Shaw at the Capitol, and asked: ‘Is that who the Shaw neighborhood is named for?’ Our tour guide was impressed!”

Their recent trip to the National Gallery of Art gave students an opportunity not only to see more historical figures, but also to learn how places are represented in art. And art is helping them with their social studies.

“One of the exciting things I’ve observed is that students are using the skills they’ve learned in art to inform their work in social studies. They’re sketching their ideas and observations as they learn,” says Ms. Carr.

Students will need a comprehensive approach as they complete their ultimate project for this unit: a travel guide. Ms. Carr says that each student will be responsible for creating a guide for a location of their choice in D.C.—for example, a monument, neighborhood, or building—and rendering it in whatever form they choose.

“Whether it’s a booklet, a diorama, or a dance, students will need to conduct research, organize information, and persevere to create their guide. We’re striving for a deeper understanding,” she says.

And now that Ms. Carr’s Donors Choose Project for five new Chromebook laptops has been fully funded, research will be that much easier for students. We can’t wait to see the results!


Featured works: Watson and the Shark (1778) by John Singleton Copley, plaster model of the Statue of Freedom (1863) by Thomas Crawford.

Posted in Maury Messenger Blog.

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