K-6 Vocabulary You Should Know

Top 10 Social Studies Skills & Methods Terms:
  1. generalization – statement that applies to the whole idea/topic, not a specific part
  2. graphic organizers – any type of chart, diagram, map, table to help organize ideas/information into an easy to read format
  3. primary source – original records of an event; can include diary, photo, letters, eyewitness reports, official records of event, artifacts
  4. secondary source – writing & interpretation of later writers who’ve reviewed information in primary sources; can include textbooks, trade books, encyclopedia articles
  5. cause & effect – items/events that led to other items/events
  6. bias – point of view or beliefs that may influence someone’s work
  7. fact vs. opinion – statement that can be proven to be true versus an expression of someone’s belief
  8. credibility of sources – evaluating how reliable or trustworthy a source/author is
  9. relevant information – ideas/materials related to the matter at hand
  10. paraphrase – to take an idea from another source and put it into your own words

Top 10 Geography Terms:

  1. map key – explains what the symbols on a map mean
  2. rural – farmland, ranches, out “in the country”
  3. urban – city
  4. suburban – small town; areas around large cities
  5. urbanization – movement of people into cities
  6. push/pull factors – reasons people migrate; push (oppression, poverty, political conflict, environmental factors) pull (freedom, economic opportunities, cultural ties)
  7. oppression – holding down, denying freedoms/rights; unjust or abusive use of power
  8. directional indicators – used on a map to show absolute locations; may be cardinal (N-S-E-W) or intermediate (NW-NE-SE-SW)
  9. uneven distribution – not all places having an equal amount of resources
  10. modifying environment – ways people change nature; such as building dams, roads, building towns & cities, starting farms, producing & using energy

Top 10 Economic Terms:

  1. trade-off – giving up one thing for another
  2. opportunity cost – trade-off often described as “next best thing”
  3. goods – objects that people make and use
  4. services – activities people do for others
  5. allocation methods – how a society decided “who gets what”
  6. import – goods & services produced outside of a country that are brought into the country
  7. export – goods that producers in a country sell outside their country
  8. production vs. consumption – how much is made compared to how much is used
  9. limited vs. unlimited resources – resources that can be depleted compared to resources that can replenish themselves (AKA non-renewable and renewable resources)
  10. wants vs. needs – what people would like to have to make life enjoyable versus what people must have for survival

Top 10 History Terms:

  1. cultural patterns – models for how societies live (similar traits/characteristics)
  2. heritage – traditions ancestors have passed down to their descendants
  3. colonization – setting up colonies away from “mother country”
  4. industrialization – when an area moves from agriculture to manufacturing
  5. domestication – process of taming wild animals (to keep & breed animals instead of hunt)
  6. governance – right to rule
  7. BCE/CE – Before the Common Era (AKA BC); In the Common Era (AKA AD)
  8. cultural contributions – advancements or achievements made by a society in any of the 12 characteristics of culture
  9. leaders (scientific, social, political & religious) – people who direct or take lead in an area

10. settlement patterns – the common reasons how/where/why people settle

Top 10 Peoples in Society Terms:

  1. migration – movement from one place to another
  2. political oppression – unjust/abusive power; denying freedoms based on political beliefs/ideals
  3. religious oppression – unjust/abusive power; denying freedoms based on religious beliefs/ideals
  4. minority groups – smaller groups of like people within a larger group
  5. consequence – conclusion or result of an action
  6. Buddhism – religion of eastern and central Asia growing out of the teachings of Buddha; searching and striving for enlightenment
  7. Hinduismdominant polytheistic religion of India emphasizing dharma or the eternal law that all life should follow and live by (all animals & humans are sacred)
  8. Judaismmonotheistic religion developed by ancient Hebrews; characterized by a belief in one god
  9. Christianitymonotheistic religion from Jesus Christ, based on the Bible as sacred scripture and taught by Eastern Orthodox, Roman Catholic and Protestant groups
  10. Islammonotheistic religious faith of Muslims including belief in Allah as the sole deity and in Muhammad as his profit


Top 10 Government Terms:

  1. sovereignty – supreme power
  2. inherited powers – when powers are passed down through family ties
  3. authority power to rule/make decisions
  4. legitimate authority – who has the right to rule for an area
  5. public services – provided to citizens by government such as defense, police, public education, postal service, fire protection, pubic TV and radio, etc.
  6. primary functions – first/most important role or duty
  7. diplomacy – practice of conducting negotiations between countries (treaties, reaching compromises, etc.)
  8. order & security – duty of government to provide rules/safety
  9. U.S. Constitution – written in 1787; plan for United States government (explains powers of government & its organization)

10. Declaration of Independence – document written by colonists explaining why they wanted to break away & be independent from Great Britain

Top 10 Citizenship, Rights & Responsibilities Terms:

  1. cooperation – working together for mutual benefit
  2. accountability – having ability to answer for; living up to responsibilities
  3. common/public good or welfare – what is in the best interest of the population
  4. obligation – commitment; something one is bound (by law, duty, or conscience) to do
  5. consensus – general agreement
  6. compromise – agreement in which both sides give up something to find a solution
  7. persistence – stand firm; continue to act on beliefs even through difficulties
  8. naturalization – act of becoming a citizen (when not born into)
  9. principles of justice – underlying meaning of law/fairness; “what is right”

10. systems of government – ways or methods of ruling people (common examples include monarchy, dictatorship, democracy and republic)


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