Teaching the regions of the United States is one of my favorite units. Students are exposed to different areas of the United States and they can examine how different each region is compared to the one they live in.
Before Diving In…
To begin, I start with a simple KWL chart. I really want to know what my students “think” they know about each region & what things they want to learn.
Even though KWL charts are very “old school,” I suggest that you do this part of the lesson. It’s really interesting to hear their impressions of each part of the country and it promotes interesting conversations, especially if a student has lived in a different part of the United States.
The Interactive Notebooks
Prior to learning about each region, I have students set up their interactive notebooks. There’s so much information that gets covered about each region, I really want to make it as manageable and fun as possible.
In my interactive notebooks, I include a diagram showing the states, pictures of the region, a flap book for types of land and waterways. I also include separate flaps for the climate and landmarks.
I first begin with a Powerpoint Presentation. I ask students to move up and we review what states are located in that region and what the land is like. I use as many pictures as possible, especially when examining the West region. The West region varies so dramatically from state to state. Pictures do a great job of showing this.
After each topic, I give students time to fill out and take notes in their notebooks. Depending on the class, I may have them write their notes directly under the flaps in their interactive notebook. Other classes I’ve modeled how to take notes and how to find the most important facts.
Following a similar model, we examine the other aspects of each region (climate, landmarks, etc).
Once we have completed the Powerpoint and students can picture many aspects of the region, we complete a reading (gotta tie in literacy every chance I get). The reading emphasizes main ideas learned in the presentation. This also gives them time to brush up on any notes they didn’t include previously. You can grab one of the readings as a freebie here.
During this time, my students also completed a “Region Sketchbook” (It’s similar to a scrapbook page). Fortunately many of my students love to draw and color, so this gave them the time to draw their favorite places or parts of the region.
Fun Review Activities
My students really enjoy making anchor charts for the classroom. To do this, I use 5 pieces of chart paper (1 for each region) and place them around the room. Students go around, adding one thing they learned about each region to the poster. When everyone is done, we hang them around the room to serve as year-long anchor charts.
Another fun review activity my students enjoy is using a cootie catcher! For example, students make their own cootie catcher with different review questions inside.
At the end of each region or at the end of the unit students complete a landmark research project. The students spend time researching a popular landmark (of their choosing) and create a poster advertising the landmark. Some students make their project into a commercial, while other students present it more as a research project.
Many students often feel overwhelmed with all of the information on the internet. To set students up for success, I give the students a graphic organizer that helps them with their research.
Overall, this has been one of my most enjoyable units this year. I love teaching the regions of the United States and being able to explore different parts of the country.