Monday, November 21, 2011

Study the 50 States

The Shepherding Kind Hearts Academy (I just made that up, pretty good eh?) has started a year long unit study of the 50 United States. As a young child I remember having to memorize the 50 states and their capitals. I've decided to take it a bit farther and teach my children, namely my oldest who is a 5th grader some additional lessons beyond just the state names and their capitals. Through this unit he will learn notebooking, improve on his writing, online research, and a range of geographical terms.

Although this is very much still a unit in the making I wanted to share with you the resources, both written and online, that I have thus far discovered and are utilizing.

First and foremost we are utilizing the geography state notebooking pages from Notebooking The beauty of notebooking is that you can individualize your unit with these pages. Debra provides a wide range of notebook pages to suit and complement every possible research topic. I am handpicking about 10-12 pages from each state for my son to complete. These pages require him to do online and book research as well as improve upon his research writing skills. 

Book Research Resources:

National Geographic: Our Fifty States

Book description: Overflowing with beautiful illustrations, specially designed maps, and concise essays written and reviewed by members of the Society's Geographic Alliance Program, this authoritative guide stands alone in the children's reference category. From Maine to Hawaii, kids will discover fascinating details behind each state's unique history. Our Fifty States is a superior volume so chock-full of engaging information and stunning visuals, youngsters will never run out of things to learn. Foreword by Former President Jimmy Carter. The easy-to-read physical map that introduces each region of the U.S. is followed by a lively essay with absorbing descriptions of the area's history, climate, natural resources, and physical features. Then, within each regional chapter, children can explore the individual states through illustrated historical time lines, full-color political maps, photo essays, and state-at-a-glance boxes. Additional features include special essays on the District of Columbia and the territories, comparative charts, a list of additional resources, and a detailed index.

My perspective: This is a beautiful hard back book full of vivid images and a wealth of state history knowledge. We are using this book to help complete the timeline and state facts notebooking pages. Additionally, my oldest son is reading this book to help with his state research topics. For example, in the Pennsylvania section her read about the Battle of Gettysburg and completed a notebooking page about this battle as well as the Gettysburg Address. 

The Look It-Up Book of the 50 States

Book description: Entertaining, up-to-the-minute, and easy-to-use, The Look-It-Up Book of the 50 States is an affordable family reference to each state of the union. Illustrated throughout with photographs, drawings, and maps, it provides a concise history of each state from the time it was first explored to the present day–as well as information on places to visit, wildlife, natural resources, and fun facts.

My perspective: This wonderful resource is full of beautiful glossy color information packed pages. With 2-3 pages dedicated to each state this is a perfect reading resource for upper elementary students to read on their own or for reading to younger children who want to learn alongside their older siblings.

Online Research Resources:
The e-mail course of the 50 States is the guide I am using to dictate the order in which we study the 50 states. Each week will send you an e-mail with 2 states and the links from to help with your unit study. Beginning with the 1st and 2nd states, Delaware and Pennsylvania respectively, each following week you will receive an email with each subsequent state admitted to the union in their respective order. After I receive this email each week I go to and print off the appropriate notebooking pages for the upcoming state studies.

Class Brain for a plethora of state information including symbols, geography, and other fun information

Golden Gate Weather Service for weather information

City Population for population information for each state listed by city

Info Please for elevation information for each state

Mining and natural resources for each state

Current Results  for precipitation and other weather related information

50States for all kinds of fun U.S. state related information

As we venture into this long unit study I am quickly learning to adapt and change as we go. Depending on the research subject matter from each state I am amending the type of notebooking and research. For example, CT is full of fun historical subject matter. I am having my oldest son do a bit more research during the week of CT in the hopes that he gleans more historical information from this important seaboard state.

Happy studying!!

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