The Core Knowledge Foundation (www.coreknowledge.org) provides open access to content-rich curriculum materials for preschool through grade 8, including the Core Knowledge Curriculum Series™. This material includes learning materials for language arts, history and geography, and science.
The materials made available for download are freely available for anyone to use, adapt, and share (with attribution), but no one is permitted to sell either the original program, an adaptation of it, or lesson plans that reproduce any part of it. See the Guidelines to Core Knowledge and the Creative Commons License
The Teacher Guide provides detailed lesson plans for each Student Reader chapter, as well as activity page masters, assessments, additional activities (such as virtual field trips, simulations, or literary selections), and civics and arts connections to reinforce the lesson content.
CKHG Student Readers offer engagingly written and richly illustrated text on the topics specified for the unit. Each volume includes maps, color illustrations, vocabulary sidebars, and a glossary. In general, the content and presentation in CKHG Student Readers for Grades 3-5 are appropriate for young readers from the upper elementary grades through middle school.
Timeline Cards serve as visual aids to reinforce big ideas, clarify the chronology and context of historical events, and prompt discussion.
CKHG Grade Levels: CKHG units are correlated to topics at the grade levels specified in the Core Knowledge Sequence, which allows students in schools following the Sequence to build knowledge grade by grade. In other settings, individual CKHG units may be used as supplemental resources. In general, the content and presentation in the CKHG units for Grades 3-5 are appropriate for young readers from the upper elementary grades through middle school.
Focus: This unit prepares students to use maps and globes to locate the continents, major oceans, and important world rivers. Students explore the benefits and dangers of rivers. They learn why ancient civilizations and modern cities were established near rivers, and how rivers are often associated with major historical events. Rivers studied include the Ganges, Indus, Yellow (Huang He), Yangtze (Chang Jiang), Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, Niger, Congo, Amazon, Orinoco, Mississippi, Mackenzie, Yukon, Murray, Darling, Volga, Danube, and Rhine.
This unit prepares students to use maps and globes to locate the continents, major oceans, and important world rivers. Students explore the benefits and dangers of rivers. They learn why ancient civilizations and modern cities were established near rivers, and how rivers are often associated with major historical events. Rivers studied include the Ganges, Indus, Yellow (Huang He), Yangtze (Chang Jiang), Tigris, Euphrates, Nile, Niger, Congo, Amazon, Orinoco, Mississippi, Mackenzie, Yukon, Murray, Darling, Volga, Danube, and Rhine.
Teacher's Guide: Wild Rivers
Student Reader: Wild Rivers
This unit begins by providing background information on the geography of the Mediterranean region. Students are introduced to Roman mythology (including the legend of Romulus and Remus), daily life in early Rome, the Roman Republic, Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Caesar Augustus, the Roman Empire, Pompeii, and the rise of Christianity. They learn about ancient Rome’s lasting contributions in political ideas and institutions, architecture, and literature. Students also investigate historical sources, compare and contrast rulers, and write an essay on the rise and fall of Rome.
Teacher's Guide: Ancient Rome
Student Reader: Ancient Rome
Timeline Cards: Ancient Rome
This unit begins by providing geographical information on Scandinavia, homeland of the Vikings, whose expertise as sailors and shipbuilders—and their fierce raiding spirit—enabled them to trade, conquer, and explore over a vast area. Students learn about the voyages of Eric the Red and his son, Leif Eriksson. Students are introduced to Norse mythology, including stories of Odin, Thor, and Loki.
Teacher's Guide: The Vikings
Student Reader: The Vikings
Timeline Cards: The Vikings
This unit introduces some of the different native peoples who populated America many years before the arrival of European explorers. Students learn how some of the earliest Americans arrived in North America as early as thirty thousand years ago along the Pacific Coast, while others traveled from Asia across Beringia, the land bridge. Over time, native peoples migrated throughout the North American continent and into Central and South America. Students explore how these early peoples adapted to their environments and developed unique cultures. Chapters focus on the Inuit, the Ancestral Pueblo and Mound Builders, and specific Native American peoples of the American Southwest, Southeast, and Eastern Woodlands.
Teacher's Guide: The Earliest Americans
Student Reader: The Earliest Americans
Timeline Cards: The Earliest Americans
This unit introduces the geography and people of Canada. Students learn about Canada’s government, major population centers (including Montreal, Quebec City, and Toronto), and the country’s vast wilderness and natural resources. They are introduced to Canada’s indigenous peoples and to its French and British heritage, which lie behind the country’s two official languages. Students explore the strong influence of French culture in Quebec. They also consider similarities and differences between Canada and the United States, and learn how Canada’s history and relationship with Britain are different from those of the U.S.
Teacher's Guide: Canada
Student Reader: Canada
This unit provides information and activities to help students use maps and globes effectively. Students learn geographical terms and how to use map symbols, keys, and map scales. They are introduced to longitude and latitude and using coordinates and degrees to find a specific location. Students also learn about time zones, maps depicting elevation and depression, and the relationship between a three-dimensional globe and flat map.
Teacher's Guide: Using Maps
Student Reader: Using Maps
In this unit students review skills of using maps and globes and then apply those skills in learning about major mountains and mountain ranges. They explore the Himalayas and Urals in Asia; the Atlas Mountains in Africa; the Andes in South America; the Appalachians and Rockies in North America; and the Alps and Caucasus in Europe. Students also study the tallest mountains on each continent.
Teacher's Guide: World Mountains
Student Reader: World Mountains
This unit begins by providing background information to place the Middle Ages in Western Europe in historical and geographical context. Students learn about the Western and Eastern Roman Empires, the influence of the Roman Catholic Church, Charlemagne, the feudal system, castles and manors, chivalry, the growth of towns, women in the Middle Ages, William the Conqueror, the Magna Carta, Parliament, Joan of Arc, the plague, and the legacy of the Middle Ages. Students also learn about medieval European art, architecture, and music, as well as the fictional King Arthur and Camelot.
Teacher's Guide: Medieval Europe
Student Reader: Medieval Europe
Timeline Cards: Medieval Europe
This unit explains the historical significance of Muhammad and the origins of Islam in the Arabian Peninsula. Students learn about the importance of the Koran and the Five Pillars of Islam. Students also learn about the achievements of Muslim scholars and artists and the growth of Muslim empires. The unit concludes with a brief account of the Crusades, the long series of wars during the Middle Ages in which European Christians attempted to retake control of the Holy Land and other formerly Christian territories in the Middle East.
Teacher's Guide: Medieval Islamic Empires
Student Reader: Medieval Islamic Empires
Timeline Cards: Medieval Islamic Empires
This unit begins with an overview of the varied geography of Africa, including tropical rainforests, savanna (grasslands), and deserts. Students learn about the early African kingdoms of Kush and Aksum, and about the medieval trading kingdoms of Ghana, Mali, and Songhai. Students explore the city of Timbuktu as a center of trade and learning. Students are also introduced to African works of art, including the ritual, ceremonial, or celebratory purposes of many artworks.
Teacher's Guide: Early and Medieval African Kingdoms
Student Reader: Early and Medieval African Kingdoms
Timeline Cards: Early and Medieval African Kingdoms
This unit introduces the succession of dynasties that that ruled China for nearly two thousand years. Students learn about the Qin dynasty and the first emperor, Shihuangdi, who began construction of the Great Wall; about the Han dynasty, when trade in silk and spices flourished along the Silk Road; about the Tang and Song dynasties, which witnessed important inventions including the compass and gunpowder; about the Mongol invasion led by Chinggis Khan and the Yuan dynasty founded by Kublai Khan; and, about the Ming dynasty, which established the capital at Beijing and built the Forbidden City. Students also become familiar with Chinese art, including silk scrolls, calligraphy, and porcelain.
Teacher's Guide: Dynasties of China
Student Reader: Dynasties of China
Timeline Cards: Dynasties of China
This unit begins by providing background information on the establishment of the thirteen colonies. Students learn about early alliances, the French and Indian War, and causes and provocations of the American Revolution including British taxes, the Stamp Act, the Boston Massacre, and the Boston Tea Party. Students are introduced to major ideas in the Declaration of Independence and to key figures in the Revolution, including George Washington, Crispus Attucks, Patrick Henry, Paul Revere, Samuel Adams, John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, Benedict, Arnold, John Paul Jones, and Nathan Hale. Students are also introduced to art and literature representative of the period.
Teacher's Guide: The American Revolution
Student Reader: The American Revolution
Timeline Cards: The American Revolution
This unit begins with a review of map skills and geographical terms. Students learn about the benefits and resources provided by lakes, including, in Asia, the Caspian and Aral Seas; in Africa, Lakes Victoria, Tanganyika, and Chad; in South America, Lakes Maracaibo and Titicaca; and, in North America, Lakes Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario.
Teacher's Guide: World Lakes
Student Reader: World Lakes
This unit begins by placing three ancient Mesoamerican civilizations in historical and geographical context. Students learn about characteristics of Maya culture, their religious beliefs, and their knowledge of astronomy and mathematics. They explore ruins of ancient Maya temples and pyramids. Students are introduced to the Aztecs as warriors and empire builders, their religious beliefs and practices, their use of pictograms in codi
Teacher's Guide: Maya, Aztec, and Inca Civilizations
Student Reader: Maya, Aztec, and Inca Civilizations
Timeline Cards: Maya, Aztec, and Inca Civilizations
This unit (Unit 3 for schools using the CKHG series in Sequence grade-level order) introduces students to European exploration and trade from 1400 to the 600s. Students learn about motivations for European exploration, including profit from the trade of goods such as gold, silk, sugar, and spices, as well as the desire to spread Christianity. Students study specific European explorers (Bartolomeu Dias, Vasco de Gama, Pedro Cabral, Columbus, Magellan, and Vasco de Balboa) and learn about their encounters with indigenous peoples. Students also learn about John Cabot and the search for the Northwest Passage, Sir Francis Drake, Jacques Cartier, Samuel de Champlain, and Henry Hudson. Students are introduced to the early origins of the slave trade and the beginnings of slavery in the Americas.
Teacher's Guide: The Age of Exploration
Student Reader:The Age of Exploration
Timeline Cards: The Age of Exploration
This unit introduces students to the Renaissance, which began in Italian city-states and then spread across much of Europe, impelled by Gutenberg’s printing press. Students learn how artists were supported by patrons, such as the wealthy Medici family, or Pope Julius II for whom Raphael painted frescoes and Michelangelo the ceiling of the Sistine Chapel. Students are introduced to the lives and works of Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo, to Castiglione’s writings on courtly behavior, to Machiavelli’s ideas about politics, and to Shakespeare and Cervantes as exemplars of the Renaissance spirit in literature. Students also learn how the Renaissance spread to northern Europe.
Teacher's Guide: The Renaissance
Student Guide: The Renaissance
Timeline Cards: The Renaissance
This unit tells the story of the 16th-century religious upheaval known as the Reformation, which led to the founding of Protestantism and had far-reaching social and political consequences. Students learn how Gutenberg’s printing press made the Bible widely available and encouraged the spread of literacy. Students learn what led Martin Luther and John Calvin, the most influential leaders of the Reformation, to protest against the authority of the Catholic Church. Students also learn about the Church’s efforts to reform its practices, known as the Counter-Reformation. Students also explore how the findings of Copernicus and Galileo led to conflicts between science and the Church.
Teacher's Guide: The Reformation
Student Guide: The Reformation
Timeline Cards: The Reformation
This unit explores England in the 1500s and 1600s, a time of religious conflicts and political change. Students learn about Henry VIII and the founding of the Church of England. They explore the reign of Queen Elizabeth I, a time of expansion abroad, peace and prosperity at home, and extraordinary literary achievements (including many of the works of Shakespeare). They learn about the fate of Charles I in the English Civil War, the rise of Oliver Cromwell and the Puritans, and the Restoration era under Charles II. Students also learn about the “Glorious Revolution” that put William and Mary on the throne, and the importance of the English Bill of Rights.
Teacher's Guide: England in the Golden Age
Student Guide: England in the Golden Age
Timeline Cards: England in the Golden Age
This unit introduces students to major geographical features of the vast lands of Russia, and tells the story of how Russia grew from a small principality to a large country ruled by powerful czars. Students learn how, after the fall of Constantinople, Moscow emerged as the center of the Eastern Orthodox Church. Students meet Ivan III (the Great) and Ivan IV (the Terrible), who expanded Russian territory and the authority of the czars. Students also learn how Peter the Great and Catherine the Great sought to modernize and westernize Russia.
Teacher's Guide: Early Russia
Student Guide: Early Russia
Timeline Cards: Early Russia
This unit introduces students to the history of feudal Japan. Students first explore how Japan’s geography as an island nation influenced its culture and history, especially its long isolationism. Students learn about the rise of powerful feudal leaders called shoguns, and the role of the soldier-nobles called samurai, who lived by a code known as Bushido. Students also learn how the Tokugawa Shogunate closed Japan to most outsiders, and how Japan remained secluded until European powers and Commodore Matthew Perry of the United States compelled the Japanese to open their doors for trade. Students are also introduced to two important religions in Japanese history, Buddhism and Shinto.
Teacher's Guide: Feudal Japan
Student Guide: Feudal Japan
Timeline Cards: Feudal Japan