Thursday, August 1, 2013

Journey Across America - The Basics

This year we will be learning about the 50 states in geography. After seeing several other homeschool moms turn this dreaded task (states and capitols drills!) into an exciting adventure, I decided to do the same... or at least try. To get it all done in about one year we started in June 2013 and hope to end in August 2014. We will be studying one state each week and I'll be posting a wrap up of each state as we journey along, this way when I do it again with baby #3 I'll have everything documented! And I'm hoping someone (you) out there finds this beneficial for their own study of the 50 states.

Here is the run down of how we study each state:

Discover America State by State Series

To begin the week we read our state of the week's book from the Discover America State by State series. These books go through an alphabet of the state, highlighting its major features and history. Each book is written and illustrated by someone different, so some are more compelling than others, but the kids always enjoy them!

The Textbook

Kevin teaches a lesson on our state using Our United States of America: Catholic Social Studies. I like this book because each state has its own section, as opposed to lumping states into general regions. We do not use the accompanying workbook however because it does lump the states into general regions and we are studying the states in the order in which they joined the union.

The Literature

Some of our Massachusetts books
We are also reading a few fiction books that are set in the state in which we are studying. Both Mrs. McGowan and Wrapped in Foil have fairly comprehensive lists, although I don't recommend every book on their lists. A Picture Perfect Childhood has a shorter state booklist, but I can recommend all of the titles featured there. Don't worry, I'll let you know my favorites as we travel along.

Scrapbook Page

Bean is making a simple scrapbook of the 50 states using Homeschool in the Woods United States Maps notebooking pages. I liked these one-paged notebook pages better than the free printables I found online, but if you want to go the free route, check out Enchanted Learning or USA-Printables for notebook/scrapbook/lapbook pages. Notebook pages also come with Confessions of a Homeschooler's curriculum and I can't leave out the amazing scrapbook pages that Shower of Roses are making! The format for the notebooking pages we use comes from there as well.


Mini Boston Cream Pies from Massachusetts week
Why not include food in this project. I like food, my kids like food, sounds like a win-win to me. Along with scrapbooks, Shower of Roses is also baking their way through the 50 states and Common Shepherdess is doing entire meal plans! Check out Cooking Channel TV, Wikipedia, and Food Timeline as well. Some books we are using for additional inspiration are The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts from all 50 States and American Grub - Eats for Kids from All Fifty States. Finally, perhaps this map at Laughing Squid will put you in the cooking mood. This has been a highlight of our studies so far, so don't leave it out of your plans!

Craft or Activity

New Jersey is known as the Garden State, so our activity that week was a rosary stone for our Marian garden.
Each week we do a fun (well, hopefully it's fun) craft or activity that ties into our state. For ideas you can download Discover America State by State's teaching guides. They are filled with free printable worksheets and ideas for crafts and activities that coordinate with each state. You can also find ideas at Confessions of a Homeschooler.

Other Ideas
Some weeks I've been pulling up the state song on youtube or letting the kids play some online state games at Learning Games for Kids. My mom also found these workbooks and flashcards in the Dollar Spot at Target for some additional resources.

Once the FOCUS missionaries head to their campuses I will be writing very complimentary emails to them to beg for a postcard from their state in hopes of collecting all 50 states for my kids. Signing up for an exchange is another way to collect postcards from all 50 states.

Lastly, we love the Scrambled States of America products, Highlights has a Which Way USA Club that looks cool, but we haven't invested in that one, and when I'm feeling really generous the kids get to play Stack the States. It's super fun.

I'm looking forward to posting our highlights from each week, so be on the look out!

Be saints, it's worth it! Lisa

P.S. This is by no means a complete list of ALL the fun ways to teach the states. If you know of a great resource, please add it to the comments!


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