Amazing Facts about My City and State
- Grades: 1–2
- Unit Plan:
This lesson will introduce students to landmarks and important facts about their city and state. They'll use pre-approved Web sites and print material to research facts and points of interest. Finally, they'll write an informative paragraph to share with other 2nd-grade classes. The lesson can also be used for teaching amazing facts about your area; simply use the same ideas but adjust them to research facts about your state flag, bird, flower, capitol, etc. Then, the entire unit would last two weeks; one week focusing on your city and the next on your state.
The students will:
- Research and record facts about their city.
- Write an informative paragraph about their city.
- 1001 Things to Spot in the Town
- Butcher paper
- Index Cards
- Amazing Facts About My City (PDF) or Amazing Facts About Our State (PDF)
- Overhead projector
- Internet connection
Set Up and Prepare
- Using a large piece of butcher paper, prepare a KWL chart graphic organizer and title it "The City of <your city>."
- Preview the Amazing Facts printable(s) and investigate appropriate Web sites and books that would answer each question. See my booklist for reference suggestions. Write the Web sites on index cards for each group of students. Have the index cards and research books available for Days 2-4.
- Divide the class into groups of 2-4 for a research activity.
- Check with your schools Technology Coordinator for District policies regarding Internet use at your school.
- Schedule computer time for each group on Days 2-4.
- Make a transparency of the Amazing Facts About My City printable.
- Make a copy of the Amazing Facts About My City printable for each student.
- If this lesson will be focusing on your state, make a transparency for yourself and a copy of the Amazing Facts About Our State printable for each student.
Because I teach in Newark, NJ, I will be referring to this city throughout this lesson. Please substitute your city's landmarks, special places of interests, and facts as you teach this lesson.
Step 1: In a whole group setting, introduce the lesson by asking students to name the city in which they live. Over the next week, they will be researching facts about the city of Newark. Inform students that they will begin by sharing what they know about Newark on a KWL chart. Remind students that the KWL chart is a graphic organizer used to help guide researching and studying a specific topic. Record what the students know about Newark in the "K" section of the chart. Share that this is the first step of their research project. Although they may or may not know a great deal, they will discover many wonderful facts about Newark by the end of the week. Students will complete the section about what they learned — the "L" section — during homework.
Step 2: Write the term Landmark on board or chart paper. Ask students what they think this word means. Tell them that a landmark is a marker or a familiar sight within a city.
Step 3: Prior to sharing the book, 1001 Things to Spot in the Town, ask students to look for different landmarks (carnival, park, etc.) and places of interest as you turn the pages. Read the book. Afterwards, ask students to share what they discovered.
Step 1: Begin by asking students to think about what they'd like to know about their city. Direct students' attention to the "W" section (What do I want to know?) on the KWL chart. Record their responses on the chart.
Step 2: Ask students how we can find the answers to these questions. Discuss what it means to research a topic or idea, why research is needed, and how research can be used. Ask: What do we do or what do we use when we investigate or look for answers? (ask someone, books, encyclopedia or dictionary, the Internet, etc.)
Step 3: Review the definition for the term Landmark. Briefly review what the students learned from the book 1001 Things to Spot in the Town. Inform students that today they will begin researching Newark landmarks and other interesting facts using the Internet and research books. Explain that each group of 2-4 students will research the answers for the Amazing Facts printable. Distribute the index cards (one per group) of suggested Web sites that students may visit to gather information. Briefly review the books as well.
Step 4: Display the Amazing Facts About My City transparency. Inform students that this provides them with a framework to use while they conduct their research, but they are free to ask or develop additional questions. Distribute the printable and review the transparency with the students. Assemble the groups and ask each to review the worksheet and discuss a research strategy. Encourage students to utilize good teamwork ideas, but allow them to be fairly independent. Remind them that good planning is an important ingredient in conducting good research and to make good use of their computer time.
Step 5: Let each group begin their research according to your computer schedule.
Day 3-4 - Continue to Research
Step 1: While a group works in the computer center, encourage other groups to continue their research using the books provided.
Day 5 - Paragraph Writing
Model each step of this paragraph writing activity using a blank transparency and the overhead projector.
Step 1: Share that today students will be writing a paragraph about the city facts they learned.
Step 2: Discuss the criteria for paragraph writing, such as indenting. For each sentence, begin by sharing what the sentence is about or providing a prompt, then have students give oral answers, and finally students ask them to write their own sentences as you model on the transparency. You may help with spelling and ideas along the way. Model the following steps, asking students to follow along on their paper.
- This is the opening or topic sentence.
Sample: There are many interesting details about the city of Newark.
- The next few sentences outline the details found on the Amazing Facts printable.
Samples: Newark is found on the East coast in the state of New Jersey
It was founded in _____ and now has a population of __________.
Three important landmarks found in Newark are _____, _____, and _____.
- The last sentence closes the paragraph.
Sample: Finally, the most interesting detail about Newark is its __________.
Supporting All Learners
Instead of writing their paragraphs, allow students who are having difficulty to record the gathered research information on a tape recorder. You may also want to pair them with a peer coach or work with them separately.
- Have students draw pictures or print pictures from the Internet of the "Amazing Facts" they found during their research. They can use these pictures as they read their paragraph to other students.
- Invite an employee from the Chamber of Commerce to speak to the class, sharing important information about the city and state.
- Have students create a 3-D clay representation of your state, highlighting important landmarks, the capital city, geographic regions, and other places of interest.
Allow students to complete Step 3 (What did I learn?) of their KWL chart at home. Have them interview their parents, asking them about their favorite landmarks or places of interest.
- Complete Amazing Facts printable.
- Complete the City paragraph.
- Were students able to research effectively?
- Were students able to complete their paragraph?
- Do you need to follow up with the paragraph lesson, providing another practice opportunity?
- Observe the students' research skills and their ability to work cooperatively in their group.
- Evaluate each paragraph.