Wednesday, March 4, 2015

Geography Lessons Plans

When my older three children learned states and capitals, they simply memorized them.  While this technique was effective in learning them, they all found it boring and monotonous.  Therefore, when Finn reached third grade, (the year we learn states and capitals), I decided I needed to create a more interesting unit, one in which he would not only learn the states and capitals, but he would also learn a little about each state.  Finn loves maps, so I also wanted to incorporate a map in the project as well.

After seeing this post from Jessica about her state scrapbooks, I decided to create a similar idea.  I ended up scheduling this unit over two years (3rd and 4th), so the student could use a week for each state.  That gave extra weeks in case we had shortened weeks of school or some other unexpected event occurred.

Resources for the unit
  • Each state book by Sleeping Bear Press--I found all of my books used online; they can be purchased very inexpensively this way through Amazon or Ebay.
    • A is for Aloha (Hawaii)
    • A is for Arches (Utah)
    • B is for Badger (Wisconsin)
    • B is for Big Sky Country (Montana)
    • B is for Beaver (Oregon)
    • B is for Blue Crab (Maryland)
    • B is for Bluegrass (Kentucky)
    • B is for Buckeye (Ohio)
    • C is for Centennial (Colorado)
    • C is for Cornhusker (Nebraska)
    • C is for Cowboy (Wyoming)
    • E is for Empire (New York)
    • E is for Enchantment (New Mexico)
    • E is for Evergreen (Washington)
    • F is for First State (Delaware)

    • G is for Garden State (New Jersey)
    • G is for Golden (California)
    • G is for Grand Canyon (Arizona)
    • G is for Granite (New Hampshire)
    • H is for Hawkeye (Iowa)
    • H is for Hoosier (Indiana)
    • K is for Keystone (Pennsylvania)
    • L is for Lincoln (Illinois)
    • L is for Lobster (Maine)
    • L is for Lone Star (Texas)
    • M is for Magnolia (Mississippi)
    • M is for Maple Syrup (Vermont)
    • M is for Mayflower (Massachusetts)
    • M is for Mitten (Michigan)
    • M is for Mountain State (West Virginia)
    • M is for Mount Rushmore (South Dakota)
    • N is for Natural State (Arkansas)
    • N is for Nutmeg (Connecticut)
    • O is for Old Dominion (Virginia) 
    • P is for Palmetto (South Carolina)
    • P is for Peace Garden (North Dakota)

I also created this two-page document, like a notebook page, for my son to fill out as he learned.  You can download it for free for your personal use.

Originally I found all of the necessary pictures or information (state birds with the state flower, state flags, state coins, state origin, state abbreviation, state insect, meaning of the state name, state mineral/rock, state license plate, state map, state seal) and put all of it in a binder.  I planned to print the pages for him to cut out and glue on the correct space.  However, he loves to draw and asked if he could simply draw the items needed.  I happily agreed, and I look forward to seeing his drawings each week.

At the end of each year, I assign a final project.  Finn chooses one state that he really enjoyed studying, and he writes a brief report on it with a visual aid.  We also cook the food suggested in American Grub.  (In fact, I think the state he chose last year was primarily based off the food for that state :)

He has learned so much from this unit and really enjoyed completing it.  He is finishing up his final state this week!

Weekly Lesson Plans
**We chose to learn states in order by geographical location, beginning with the Northwestern United States.  I think I chose this way simply because those states/capitals are generally easier to learn than the East Coast.

Monday--**Assign State Notebook Pages (always due on Friday).  Read page(s) for the state of the week in The Young People's Atlas of the United States.  Begin Sleeping Bear Press state book. (We read a few pages each day.  While we read, Finn would fill in information on his Notebook page worksheets).

Tuesday--Read out of the Sleeping Bear Press book; study state capitals.  Review the information on the information/picture worksheets inside of my binder.  (This is when we would discuss state origin and the meaning of the state's name, along with the other small facts).

Wednesday--Read out of the Sleeping Bear Press book.  Read the corresponding pages out of The Complete Book of Presidents and States.  (This book provided information like population and major cities.  Each day Finn recorded more learned material on his notebook pages).

Thursday--Finish Sleeping Bear Press state book; Read Mary and the 50 States.  (Today he would draw the picture of Mary from this book on his notebook page.  Other drawings/cut and paste pictures would be drawn or glued as he learns them.)

Friday--Read American Grub; finish notebook pages; study to review states and capitals.  (We reviewed all week).  

Final Project--Pick a state studied this year and write a brief report on it.  Provide a visual aid for the presentation and food from American Grub.

Final Quiz--locate and label states with their correct capitals.

 I am providing the notebook page template on Scribd for free for your personal use.  Enjoy!

God bless!

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