February 12, 2006

Mapping the 50 States Lesson Plan

Rhiannon and I started working on a new project - mapping the 50 states. We started with an outline map of the United States such as this one from Enchanted Learning.

In addition we printed out regional outline maps from Info Please Map Library. Right now we are working on the Southeast Region by Rhiannon's choice. She decided to start with Florida because Serona was in Florida the week we started. We do this about 3 times a week and each day we do it she picks a state from the region. She begins by reading about the state in our Time for Learning States book. In addition, when available from the library (so far each state has been she reads the corresponding state book from the series Welcome to the U.S.A. These books are filled with interesting, silly, fun and useful facts and pictures from the state. They are easy to read with good pictures and follow a relatively consistent format. She really enjoys them and looks forward to this part of our lessons.

She reads them and keeps pausing to share interesting facts like how many times you can make it to the moon and back with the oranges grown in Florida or carpet made in Georgia. Then she finds the state on her regional map (less states to choose from and more room for writing than a plain US map) and writes the state abbreviation on it. I have agreed to write the capitol for her but she needs to find it in the book and spell it for me (from the book) the words were just long for her to fit in the space. After the capitol and state are written she needs to draw or write several facts from the state. For example for Florida she drew a picture of an orange, mickey mouse ears, a rocket and manatees. In Georgia she drew peanuts, carpet and a mud hole (for the redneck games described in her book). In Kentucky she drew horses and mammoth cave. Now when she looks at her sheet she can jog her memory about what that state is known for as well as the state name and capitol.

After she finishes her regional map she needs to find the state on the US map and color it in. I said she could pick any color but she has tried to have them demonstrate something about the state. Florida was orange and Kentucky was brown for horses, etc. We also discuss if someone we know lives there or has lived there. She has several relatives who live in Florida and she was born in Georgia so that was fun for her. She wants to visit Kentucky to see the caves and the horses.

We are working through one region at a time. This allows us to focus on one regional map at a time and that area of the bigger US map. My plan is to discuss the region as a whole when she completes every state. She can compare and contrast the states from each other and from where we live and see if any of the interesting facts had similarities. Then after we complete two regions she can compare and contrast these regions.

In addition to the books sometimes we may look at other resources about states such as 50States.com and Enchanted Learning State Resources. We were at the library the other day when she saw a video on Kentucky and another on horses and wanted to get them out. She has started paying more attention in stories to what state they are talking about if a location is mentioned.

This is easy and fun and offers a real visual tool in the end to jog her memory. You could make it easier for other children by just picking something yourself to have them draw to remind them of the state. Though I do think if you have readers that making them read and discover it themselves has more impact.

I plan to do a similar type theme with the Presidents of the US when we finish this state study. When we study the presidents we will work through the Learning the Presidents book along with video and easy reader supplements about the presidents. There I will have her make a book with each page being a president including a picture, the years they were president and some interesting facts about them and/or their presidency.


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