What are the Major Concepts and Events in American History?


If you were to create a list of major concepts and events that every elementary child should know about American History, what would that list look like? After consulting the Virginia Learning Standards, the Common Core Standards, several elementary level history books, and a couple of adult history books, we have come up with the following list. Did we leave anything critical out? Remember, if this is for elementary students it needs to be shorter and accessible. We are looking to create a framework for future learning!

  • Exploration and Discovery
  • The Pilgrims and Colonialism
  • Continental Congress and a New Nation
  • The Revolutionary War
  • Native Americans
  • Slavery
  • The Civil War and Reconstruction
  • Westward Expansion
  • Industrialization and Progressivism
  • World War I
  • Immigration
  • The Roaring 20’s
  • The Great Depression and the New Deal
  • The Civil Rights Movement
  • World War II
  • The Cold War
  • The Korean and Vietnam Wars
  • Modern Times
  • States and Capitals
  • The Presidents
  • Famous and Important People

Is this list a bit too long? What would you delete? What would you add? Do we need to have a separate category for Women’s Rights or can we put that under Progressivism? What about recent conflicts and concerns. Should we expand the “Modern Times” category and include the War in Iraq, Computerization of America, etc.? It is very difficult to create a short and manageable list of major concepts and events in American History. It always feels as if something major is being left off. But, we want to keep our list manageable for growing minds who are just learning about our history.


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