Elementary Spotlight: Songs and Social Studies


Bedtime stories and Disney movies are great, but how do you get young readers to start embracing nonfiction, historical fiction, or even primary sources? And how should parents and educators introduce them to these new genres?

Explore! Primary Sources is the brand new repository of original text and audio, provided with historical context and comprehension questions to encourage active reading and text analysis. The primary-source collection stretches across four centuries. It includes founding documents, speeches, letters, patriotic songs, personal letters, and more. Many documents are excerpted for early readers taking their first steps into the world of active reading of a primary source.

If your child is saying, “Wait a minute. Just to be clear, what is a primary source???”  There’s a short video tutorial that explains all of that.


Start with something familiar. Reading is only one important way to enjoy primary sources. You can also listen to them! Some primary sources are best consumed as audio! Active listening is just as important as active reading! Use the Grade Level filter to search for K-5 resources and the Primary Source Type filter to search audio.

Songs are great for helping students tackle the text reading in a rigorous, yet very fun activity. Learn about a mule named Sal while exploring the geography and trade routes of the Erie Canal!


Primary sources require active reading. Students apply knowledge of the historical context to gain perspective on the writer’s point of view and begin reading to uncover evidence. Students get to be like a detective gathering evidence to obtain a clearer picture of time period they are investigating. This excerpt from Captain Preston’s account of the Boston Massacre will help them understand point of view.


Here are just some of our K-5 Primary Sources for younger readers to start exploring:

Yankee Doodle
The Star-Spangled Banner
The Battle Hymn of the Republic  
Pledge of Allegiance
Wade in the Water
Letter from Abigail Adams
Declaration of Independence
Preamble to the Constitution of the United States
George Washington's Character


About Author

Molly Farrow

Molly Farrow taught high school history for 11 years in Wake County and Durham County. She also taught at the Taipei American School in Taiwan. She received a M.A.T. degree from the University of North Carolina and a B.S. degree in Political Science from Wake Forest University. Outside work, she enjoys traveling and spending time with her family and their dog, Dante.

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