Core Knowledge Curriculum Sequence

The Core Knowledge approach puts knowledge at the heart of schooling.

Specific and Sequenced: Most curriculum standards provide general goals and objectives but offer teachers little guidance about the specific knowledge students should learn in each grade. In contrast, the Core Knowledge approach is to specify, in a clear grade-by-grade sequence, what students need to know.

Excellence and Equity: Only by specifying the knowledge and skills that all children should share can we guarantee equal access to that knowledge. 

Starting Early: It’s important to begin building strong foundations of knowledge in the early years. The Core Knowledge approach focuses on preschool through grade eight. In these early years, especially the preschool and elementary grades, schools can do the most to help children lay the groundwork for language development and future success.

The Core Knowledge Sequence

What do students need to know? The Core Knowledge Sequence is a detailed outline of recommended content knowledge and skills to be taught in language arts, history and geography, visual arts, music, mathematics, and science from preschool through grade eight. The Sequence complements the general skills and objectives typically found in state and local curriculum guides.

Find out more about the Core Knowledge Sequence

The Blueprint for Knowledge-Based Schooling

The Core Knowledge Sequence provides the blueprint for knowledge-based schooling.

Knowledge-based schooling puts the emphasis of early education on teaching and learning an enabling core of broadly shared knowledge—enabling because it builds strong foundations for later learning and opens doors to effective participation and mutual understanding in the wider society. Learn more about the thinking behind knowledge-based schooling.

Learn more about Core Knowledge

(The main Core Knowledge discussion begins around 39:00)

An overview of the major topics covered each year:


Five Senses
Animals & Needs
Native Americans
Seasons & Weather
Early Exploration
Taking Care of Earth

Grade 1

Body Systems
Early World Civilizations
Early American Civilizations
Modern Mexico
The Earth
Living Things & Environments
Early Exploration
Colonies to Independence
Early Exploration of West
Electricity Matter

Grade 2

Early Asian Civilizations
Modern Japan
Ancient Greece
The Constitution
War of 1812
Cycles in Nature
Westward Expansion
The Civil War
Digestive & Excretory Systems
Immigration & Citizenship
Fighting for Cause Magnetism
Simple Machines

Grade 3

Classification of Animals
Muscular, Skeletal, & Nervous Systems
Ancient Rome
Light & Optics
The Vikings
The Earliest Americans
Early Exploration
The Thirteen Colonies

Grade 4

Circulatory & Respiratory Systems
The Middle Ages
Spread of Islam
Early/Medieval African Kingdoms
China Dynasties Geology
The American Revolution
Early Presidents & Politics
Constitutional Government
Metereology Reformers

Grade 5

Classification of Living Things
Early American Civilizations
European Exploration
Plant Structures
The Renaissance & Reformation
England Golden Age
Life Cycles
Endocrine & Reproductive Systems
Early Russia
Feudal Japan
Westward Expansion
The Civil War Native Americans