3 Tips for Teaching Ontario Grade 3/4 Social Studies (Strand B) Easily

I’ve spent most of my career as an Ontario teacher in split-grade classrooms, and I’m always looking for strategies and activities to make teaching two curriculums easier.   It doesn’t have to be a messy, time-consuming process….at least for social studies!

Grade 3/4 Strand B:  People and Environments

Strand B is generally the “geography and government” strand.  The main focus is on how humans and the environment affect one another, and what role government plays in maintaining a balance between the two.
This strand includes the following units for each grade:
  • Grade 3:  Living and Working in Ontario
  • Grade 4:  Political and Physical Regions of Canada
I looked at the big ideas from the curriculum for each grade and then combined them to make blended big ideas that work well overall.  
  1. The natural features of an environment affect how land is used and the jobs that people have.
  2. People must make careful decisions that are good for nature and for humans.
  3. Human activities and the environment in each specific region affect each other.

3 Tips for Making Strand B Work in Your Grade 3/4 Classroom:

  1. Consider starting your unit with a local perspective:  what is unique about your local environment?  What environmental advantages did the area have that motivated people to first settle there?  How have people affected the environment, most positively and negatively?
  2. Focus on physical regions as Grade 3s will look at the Hudson Bay Lowlands, Canadian Shield, and Great Lakes – St. Lawrence Lowlands, and the Grade 4s can extend the learning to the other four regions of Canada.
  3. Do you know anyone in your community that has a job that is very uniquely related to the environment (a logger, for example)?  Consider inviting them to your classroom to explain the relationship between his/her career and the particular environment that made that job possible.  You could also invite a local government representative (town councilor, MP or MPP) to speak about how they support local environmental issues and promote jobs in their riding.

Can I find a ready-made resource to help me teach Strand B in my Grade 3/4 class?

Yes, of course you can!  I have put together a blended unit, Exploring Ontario and Canada, that allows you to teach one lesson to both grades – no running back and forth between grades.  You can check it out here:  

I also have a digital version and a French version of this unit (a digital French resource is in the hands of my translator at the moment)! 

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