Learning About US Regions

For the 2nd year in a row, my class participated in a postcard around the country project hosted by Cheryl at Primary Graffiti.  We LOVE receiving our postcards and reading each one.
Here is our bulletin board from last year.  Each state was a different color and we attached strings from the cards to the state on the map.  This was the extent to our studies, though.  Read the postcard, find the state, and attach it to the board.  

This year, I decided to make it more academic and we focused on each region of the US.  This ties in community and mapping skills.  I used Tracy's (from Creekside Teacher Tales) US State pack and we read about each state.  For each region, table groups got to choose one state to make a poster and present it to the class.  They used the articles from Tracy's pack and the postcards for the information for their posters.  It really was a lot of fun.

Here is my map from this year.  I colored all the states in a region the same color and tacked the postcards next to it on the map.

Another fun thing I did was invite a special guest teacher who has lived in that region to come teach a lesson.  Lucky for me, most of the teachers at my school are from all over the country.  While these teachers came to teach my class, I went to teach theirs, we just switched.  It was so much fun!

One of my second grade teammates is from Minnesota, so she did a lesson while we were learning about the midwest.  Since Minnesota has so many lakes, she played a fun game with the kids about different kinds of fish they can catch there.  Fishing is HUGE in my community, so the kids absolutely loved it!

One of the first grade teachers is from Pennsylvania and she came to teach while we were studying the northeast region.  She picked up a fun Pennsylvania State Book by Loving Life in Kindergarten and a Liberty Bell craft from Sarah Helm.  She also made each student chocolate chip cookies (the state cookie!) and a Hershey's kiss (since the Hershey's chocolate factory is in PA).

Since I am from Oregon, I taught my students about my state for the western region.  I read a couple books I own about Oregon (Spenser Goes to Portland, B is for Beaver: an Oregon Alphabet, and Goodnight Oregon). We read some songs about volcanos and the ring of fire (connecting Oregon and Hawaii), then we did a volcano craft.  I made it, but haven't gotten it ready for TpT yet.  Here is a free one if you are interested from No Time for Flash Cards.

For the southwest region, my mother in law came in to teach while she was visiting.  The kids called her Mrs. Heinlein 1 and me Mrs. Heinlein 2, since it was her name first :)  She used to live in Phoenix and Flagstaff, AZ, so she was the perfect guest!  She brought in a lot of beautiful silver and turquoise necklaces that were made by Navajo.  She also brought in a picture of her old house in Phoenix to show the kids the stucco siding and desert landscaping.  We bought G is for Grand Canyon from Amazon for her to read to the kids.
Here are some other southwest books that were in my library.

The best part of it all, though, was the sand art! 

My mother in law drew these and I helped her trace them with a sharpie and scan them into my computer.  We wanted the paper to be heavy enough to hold the sand, so I cut down watercolor paper to 8.5x11 and ran it through my school's copy machine in the bypass tray.  Heavy construction paper would work, too.  I got the sand at a craft store on Maui.

If you are interested in teaching about the southwest region and sandpainting, you can download this Navajo Sand Art unit for free!  It's 16 pages long with a nonfiction article, page for taking notes, questions, a writing paper for after the art is done.  There is also a sheet which explains the symbolism of the sand colors. 


  1. We did the same thing with the postcard exchange! I even got a mailbox from a local craft store and we received "mail" every day to read. The kids loved it! That's so cool that you had teachers from each region - what an interesting perspective for your students!

    Sara :)
    The Colorful Apple

  2. I love these ideas! We actually teach regions in 4th grade and I have been co-planning with one of our 4th grade teachers these past few weeks to plan her lessons! This will be great to take back to her! Thanks!

    The Second Grade Superkids

  3. I would feel sad if I were a Vegan kid in the class, given the fishing lesson, the non-Vegan chocolate chip cookies and non-Vegan Hershey's kisses. There are Vegan and cruelty-free lessons available. To see the reasons why not to harm fish: fish feel pain, bleed red blood like us, have a well-developed central nervous system, and many die after so-called "catch and release" games. If one wants to see the end to apathy, violence and poverty, Veganism can be the answer to all three: teaching children to have empathy for all sentient life (rather than the "might makes right" mentality) is the first step to a kinder world, and it begins on our plates. Being Vegan is the #1 best thing one can do for one's health, the environment, the animals, to end world hunger and promote world peace. Lots of cruelty-free lessons and materials (and snacks!) abound, and I'm sure parents will not be offended if one mentions the reasons why one would like a cruelty-free classroom. Thank you,