Spectacular State Studies
Boost your students’ state studies with these super, hands-on activities
- Grades: PreK–K, 1–2, 3–5, 6–8
State Scavenger Hunt
Transform your students into explorers and archaeologists by having them dig? up items that represent your state. Divide the class into groups of four or five. Tell students that they are to try to find as many items as possible from the list below and bring them to class. Allow groups to review the list, discussing which items group members already have and planning strategies for obtaining other items. As they find the items, they should check them off the group list. On the day that has been selected for presenting the scavenger hunt items, have each group share the objects they found with the class. They should explain what each is and where they found it. The group that finds the most objects wins.
Filmstrips From the Past
Your students will become photojournalists from the past as they document events that helped shape your state's history. Have each student bring in a cardboard tube from a paper-towel roll and cut each tube in half. (You may want to precut 4" x 1/4" slots in one of each student's rolls using an Exacto knife.) Next, cover each roll with white construction paper, extending it a half-inch beyond the ends of the roll. Cut slits in the paper so that students can tuck it inside the roll and secure it with tape. Distribute the Film Template Reproducible, below, and guide students through the following steps to create a six-panel roll of film.
- Ask students to brainstorm six important events from your state's history and illustrate one on each panel. Beginning with panel one, the illustrations should be in chronological order and should include an explanatory sentence.
- Have students cut out the filmstrips and glue or tape Tab A behind panel 3.Then bend Tab B backward and tape it to the paper-towel roll that does not have the slot. Have students add tape to Tab C, thread it through the slot in the second paper-towel roll, and tape it to a straw inserted into the roll. The straw will prevent the filmstrip from being pulled out. Have students trim the straw so that one half inch is exposed at each end.
- Ask students to write their state's name on the left-hand roll and a sentence describing the film? on the right-hand roll. Wind the strip over the left-hand roll, then show how the right-hand roll can be pulled to reveal your state's history, one panel at a time.
A classroom wall or bulletin board will become a work of art as your students piece together quilt blocks featuring images of things that make your state's economy flourish. Have students research your state's economy using an encyclopedia or the Internet. Then have them list materials, goods, industries, and services that bring money to the state. Distribute 8 1/2" x 11" white construction paper to students. Using a ruler, have them draw two lines, one vertically and the other horizontally, through the center of their papers. Then ask them to draw two diagonal lines, connecting each of the four corners of the paper. These lines will separate the page into eight sections. Ask students to choose eight items from the list they created about the state's economy. For each of the items, they should create a repeating patternresembling a cloth swatchthat will be illustrated in one of the eight areas on their paper. After all eight areas are finished, have students write eight short paragraphs that describe the items they chose on their quilt block and glue the paragraphs to the back. Hang the quilt blocks next to one another so that the edges are touching. The display will look like one large quilt.
Giant State Cookies
These cookies are a delicious way to learn about your state's topographical features. For the cookie dough, purchase premade batches or use a sugar-cookie recipe, making sure the dough is chilled enough to roll out. Have each student trace an oversized state outline onto a piece of oak tag and cut it out to use as a template. Preheat the oven and roll out the dough. Cut it into 6" or 7" squares, depending on the template size. Ask students to place their templates on the dough and cut out their state using a plastic knife. Refer to a topographical map and add features using chocolate chips for mountains, green sprinkles for grasslands, and so on. Add blue icing after baking to represent bodies of water. Enjoy!
Window Box Reports
These reports are a wonderful way to display native plant life. Take students on a nature walk around the neighborhood and point out the native trees, shrubs, and flowers. Tell them that they will be doing a report on one of these plants. Discuss terms and concepts that they should be familiar with, such as types of seeds and how they are spread. Have students collect leaves or flowers from the plant on which they are reporting.
- Distribute to each student a file folder, a sheet of 9" x 12" construction paper, and a sheet of plastic wrap. Have students cut off the tab from the folder. Ask them to measure in 1 1/2" from all four edges of the construction paper, draw a line to form a box, and cut it out to create a frame.
- Cover the frames with spray glue and have students work in pairs to lay the plastic wrap onto the frames. (They may need to trim any excess wrap.) Spray the folder cover with spray glue and have students press the leaves into it.
- Have students press the frame over the leaves to stick it to the folder's cover. On the inside cover, have them illustrate the plant. On the right-hand side, they should list facts about their plants, such as the plant's scientific name, and so on. Display the finished window boxes to bring the outdoors inside!
Creating these charts will compel students to learn a wide range of state facts. Have students write the alphabet down on a sheet of paper and brainstorm a list of things related to their state that begin with each letter of the alphabet. Refer them to a state fact book or the Internet for help. Then ask students to create a template by using a ruler to make four evenly spaced (about 2" wide) vertical columns and six evenly spaced (about 1 3/4" wide) rows across an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper. At the bottom of each square, write each letter of the alphabet. (W, X, Y, and Z will share the last two squares when both are split in half diagonally.) For each letter, have students choose an item from their lists that describes an aspect of their state and write an alliterative phrase about that item. Above the phrase, they can illustrate that concept. Hang the charts on a bulletin board for easy reference.