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Regions of United States

Compiled By: kristen_teach

Our 4th grade curriculum includes Regions of the United States. It can be boring but with the help of PT, it can be an enjoyable year of social studies!

5 regions
Posted by: Dana

I have my students do projects based on the 5 regions: Northeast, Southeast, Middle West, West, and Southwest. First the entire class reads about each region. I then divide the class up into 5 groups, assigning a region to each group. Once in their groups, the students are required to research that regions natural resources, manufactured goods, climate, tourist attractions, population of each state within that region, five famous people from that region, and landforms found within that region. I have a rubric I use to grade them. Much of this information can be found in their Social Studies book, but some has to be researched elsewhere.

five regions and playdough
Posted by: Maryann

When I taught the five regions of the United States, I made five batches of playdough - all different colors. Then I made laminated maps of the United States (reusable each year!) and the kids and I discussed the different regions of the US and placed the playdough on the map. They kids loved it and it really gave them a great visual and hands-on look at the five different regions and the areas they cover.

Regions of the United States
Posted by: Reda

When teaching the five regions I make a step book for each region. I label the book-Geography (political, physical), climate, resources, the people,economy, the changing region (changing Northeast), and celebrations(try dress-up and food tasting or parties). I try to add as much hands on as I can, and I am still looking for good ideas. This type of organization for each region helps students put together the big picture of the USA and helps the students understand how the states and regions are interdependent.

us regions
Posted by: kat

I did an interactive bulletin board. I put up a "broken" map of the US with each region. All regions were different colors. I had the students use pushpins or stars to designate which states they had been to. This allowed for much graphing by regions, states, etc. It was interesting to learn who had traveled a bit and who hadn't left the state.

Novels -- Regions
Posted by: Lori

Some off the top of my head --

Southeast --

The Watsons go to Birmingham, 1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis -- might be a bit hard with some tough issues for fourth graders, but a good book

Graveyard Girl by Ann Myers -- Memphis during the 1878 yellow fever epidemic

Weaver's Daughter by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley -- Tennessee territory -- Appalachian MTN region just after the Revolutionary War

Mary on Horseback by Rosemary Wells -- three short stories about Mary Breckinridge set in the Appalachian mtns of Kentucky and the begining of the nursing service there just after WWI

Song of the Trees by Mildred Taylor -- Mississippi during the great depression and racial tensions -- very short novella but great book

The Gold Cadillac by Mildred Taylor -- travels from the midwest to Mississippi during the Great Depression and racial tensions in the south

Shades of Gray by Carolyn Reeder -- just after the Civil War in Virginia


Bud, Not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis -- Michigan during the great depression -- might be a bit old for fourth grade

Caddie Woodlawn by Carol Ryrie Brink


The Sign of the Beaver by Elizabeth George Speare -- Maine colonial era

The Boston Years series of books based on the life of Caroline -- Laura Ingalls mother -- might make a neat connection if you are using Laura Ingalls Wilder for the Midwest

The Courage of Sarah Noble -- Northeast during colonization

Toliver's Secret by Esther Wood Brady -- New York/New Jersey Revolutionary War


THe Year of Miss Agnes by ? -- school teacher and school in Alaska

Posted by: Misty

My class worked in five groups to become experts on a region. We made a collaborative U.S. map that was color coded by region. The students gave presentations that included a paragraph written on a specific topic: states and capitals, natural resources, landforms and bodies of water, and climate. Some of these topics were harder than others and I delegated them according to ability. The kids also had to find and share at least one interesting fact about their region. They brought some kind of visual aide as well. It could be a prop or something they made.
If your interested I have a rubric that I used to grade this. I gave grades on the map.(Which I displayed on the bulletin board during the unit) I gave indiviual grades on paragraphs as well as group grades on presentations. I followed it up with individual maps that were copies of the class map. I got blank U.S. maps from our local teacher store, and the kids had to put state abbreviations and capitals. We also colored our individual maps by region just like our class map. At the end of the unit I auctioned off the class map and got 27 behavior points for it! That is amazing considering we only get ten points per week. The kids loved it.

Wax Museum
Posted by: Emily

The two fourth grade teachers at our school do this every year (and have done it for 5 years). It is always an incredible experience! The students write reports about the person they are going to be, and then from that report create a short speech in first person telling about themselves (in character- they dress up to the hilt the day of the wax museum).
They are set up all over our library and classes rotate in and out to hear about their chosen historical figure.
This has been a great hit at our school, and has become a tradition. I like that you have them choose people from your state. Our teachers have them choose people from the region of the US they are studying at the time (some years it's the northeast, sometimes the southwest, it just rotates every year). Although they study all regions every year, they rotate regions for the museum so students don't do the same people year after year, and because they study both state history and regions of the US in 4th grade, they are able to get a wider variety of people represented in the museum.
I would say go for it! It is such a neat experience, and the students really get to engross themselves in one person and really study that person's life. It is also good for the rest of us at school, as the students learn about many diff. Americans from history each year.

State History Help
Posted by: Jen

When I taught 4th grade (I now have 5th) we had to teach regions and our state. We were supposed to teach regions the first semester and then our state the second semester. But, I always felt like I never could do a thorough job with either one because it wasn't enough time. I would think that the state history would be more important because in 5th grade it's American History and you're kind of teaching regions then too. I'm not really sure.

P.S. I have a great natural resource activity for states. After you have taught the natural resources of your state (or region) you need to find a cookie cutter of your state. Then make sugar cookies, one for each of your kids. The kids then make a "paper" map labeling the major natural resources of their state. After the paper map gets graded and approved, they get a cookie to decorate. Have them frost them and then use realistic natural resources for a region of their state. For example, I live in Michigan so I would use those metal decorating balls for iron ore, candy corn for corn, a sugar cube for sugar beets, a cherry Runt for our fruit, etc. The kids LOVED it!!!! I've wanted to find somewhere where I could get a cookie cutter of every state and do a whole U.S. map but I haven't been able to yet!

Sorry so long. Hope it made sense!!


region study
Posted by: ddd

I have been struggling with how to teach all the regions AND all the other topics covered on our yearly state test in Social Studies. This year, I've decided to try to do the regions in 5 groups. My 4th graders are in groups of 5 (my SS book studies 5 different regions) with each group becoming "experts" on their own region. They are responsible for reading their chapters, doing the lesson vocabulary, and answering the review questions. Once those are finished individually, the groups will work together to find ways to become our "teachers". They have many choices of additional activities to do such as posters, dioramas, overhead transparencies, board games, etc., that will help them teach the rest of the class the important topics about "their" region. I am in the middle of this right now, so I'm not sure how effective it will be. I can tell you that my kids are actually enjoying reading the Social Studies book! I hear wonderful discussions about the regions in their teams! The idea of "choice" is so important!

States and Capitals
Posted by: RM

To teach states and capitals, I break it down into the 5 regions. Each week we have a region study. They do different activities that research the climate, landforms, population, culutural groups, and interesting places from that region. They are also responsible for learning the states and capitals from that region. After the first region, they become pretty independent on the activities and work on it while I work with guided reading groups, guided writing groups, or focus groups.
Each week we have a quiz on the states and capitals from that region, and then I introduce the new region.

We do that for 5 weeks, then we look at how the regions work together and talk about the interdependence of the states/regions. We do alot of Venn Diagrams, Compare and Contrast charts, etc. of the regions.

At the end of that week, they have a states and capitals final test. If they get all 50 states and capitals labeled correctly they get an extra recess. We only have recess for about 7-10 minutes a day, so this is a BIG deal for them.

Hope this helps!

Social Studies!
Posted by: Misty

I also didn't used to like Social Studies, but in 4th grade it is so fun! I don't know if you'll have time to do this, but I made perpetual plans over the summer, and in SS I'm planned up to about Nov. I do a big project on the regions. We make a class map that covers a huge bulletin board. I use a transparency to draw it. Then I divide my class into 5 groups 1 for each region, and we become expert groups. Each day each group reads to find out the same thing about a region, then that expert group shares the information with the rest of the class. For instance on day 1 we read about landforms then, climate, natural resources, etc. I spend pretty much the first half of the year working on this. The kids love thinking they are experts on something, and we all learn so much. I also have them add to the map as we learn. After we study the regions for a while, then each student does a research paper on a state from their region. If your textbook is McGraw Hill then I would be glad to share my lessons with you.
After the Language Arts, Social Studies is my favorite subject because you can bring in so much from the language arts into SS. You'll like it.

hands on S.S.
Posted by: L. Adams

We study the regions of the United States throughout the year. I love S.S. but I usually find that it is my students' least favorite subject. So I try to incorporate as many hands-on activities as possible. I found that it was hard to do this at first, but once I got started the possibilities seemed endless. I try to find as many pictures, books, videos, stories etc. that have some tie in with each region that we are studying.
For example, when we study Middle Atlantic region we find pictures of monuments in Washington D.C., the White House, the Statue of Liberty, Ellis Island, the Declaration of Independence, Independence Hall, etc. I try to find Tasty Kakes (a Philadelphia treat) for the kids to try. We design 81/2x11 size postage stamps of different landmarks/tourist attractions for this region (ie. Liberty Bell, Niagra Falls, etc.) Our textbook has a blurp about Hershey, Pennsylvania -the home of Hershey chocolate. So, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and have a chocolate party at the end. I have also been trying to locate a chocolate factory to visit on a field trip.
I usually try to pick a theme to focus on as we explore each region. We have a "cowboy" day after studying the SouthWest. We have a "luau" after studying the Pacific West. We read a biography about Walt Disney when studying the SouthEast (Florida) and have a "Southeast Picnic" to try new foods (okra, sugar cane, jambalaya, etc.)
I try to break the students up into groups for different projects as much as possible. They make posters for a state fair when we study the MidWest. They Make Dioramas in shoeboxes representing something they have learned while studying the New England region (Boston Tea Party, Sturbridge Village, etc.) These are usually competitions - and they try so hard to win!
There are other activities more independent in nature: Design a Quarter for a State, Write a Speech for a historical figure, Design a travel brochure for a State or City, etc.
When studying the state we live in - we spend many weeks putting together a state booklet. A new page each day (Historical Sites, Climate (Weather Record), Natural Resources, etc.). I have them make maps all year - tracing, labeling, coloring, drawing to get them used to using them.
If you need more ideas, feel free to email or pick a theme related to what you are studying and search the web!
Hope this helps,
L. Adams

Posted by: Carolyn

One idea:

This is called "Torn-Paper Mosaics":

If you are working on a regions of the U. S., for example, have your students create a torn-paper mosaic. Duplicate on outline map of the U. S. for each student in your class on light-colored construction paper. Give each studnet one of the U. S. maps, glue, and half sheets of 8 1/2 x 11"
construction paper in eight different colors. Instruct the students to tear each sheet of construction apart into small pieces, making a different pile for each color. On the chalkboard, write the names of the regions of the U. S. Assign a different construction paper color to each region. Direct the student to cover each region of the map with the corresponding colored pieces of torn paper. have the student title the map and create a key, then have them refer to these colorful maps throughout your regional study of the U. S.

Of course, this activity could be modified for other countries of the world--Canada, Europe, etc.

Walk Across America
Posted by: Kim

In this unit, we focus on map skills, landforms and geography. There are 150 questions related to these topics (10-15 per sheet) that students complete at their own pace. When a sheet is completed, it is turned in to be scored. For each 10 points earned, they receive a foot cut-out with their name on it. These are placed on the walls around the room. They may also earn points by wearing a T-shirt with a famous landmark or place on it, receiving a postcard (at school) showing a landform, landmark, etc or by answering a mystery question. For this, I have a large question mark that has holes punched in it. I roll up strips with more challenging questions and place one in each hole. I randomly select a student several times a day to come and choose a question. To keep track of points for these items, I use red, blue, and white squares of construction paper with the WAA logo on it. Each color is an assigned point value. When they have enough cards to equal 10 points, they may turn them in for a foot. At the end of the unit, the top 8 students participate in the WAA Bowl. The questions are the same ones they have completed earlier. After the Bowl, we have a "Taste of America" where students bring in foods from the various regions of the US to share. During this unit we also make a geo-dictionary as a project.

Posted by: linda

Each state has a Department of Tourism. I suggest that you have each child write a letter with a request for information about a state. They should receive a magazine or many tourist brochures. Kids love getting mail. We do this as part of our Language Arts Skills. They have to use good letter writing skills and the answers are perfect for Social Studies.

Teaching U.S. States and Capitals
Posted by: Stacy

I taught the U.S. states and capitals in centers. What I did was divide the country into 4 basic regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Westcoast). I then took the map and made an overhead of it. I then blew up each region on my overhead and traced poster sized copies of each region. With these copies I made puzzles to help the kids learn. These were the basis of my centers. The centers went like this:

Center 1: Kids were given a blank copy of the region map and were asked to fill in the state name and its capital.

Center 2: Kids were given a poster size copy of the region map and cards with the states name and capital (for a challenge I also had cards with the state names and capitals seperated. Their job was to put the names on the correct spot on the map.

Center 3: Kids were given the states of the region puzzle (this was a region poster board cut up) and were asked to put them in the correct places.

Center 4: Kids were given a cloze activity worksheet of the states and capitals and resource books. They were then asked to find out which states belonged to which capitals.....

I was amazed at how well my kids learned their states and capitals because of this tactile method. I gave this unit to another teacher and she used it this year and was amazed by her students progress as well. I hope this helps....Stacy

states and capitals
Posted by: Randi

I love using centers in my classroom of 4th grade as well. I always include the USA states and capitals in my centers.

I made concentration cards by writing the names of every capital and state on index cards. The cards can be broken up into the different regions. Many different groups can be playing at the same time. I just let them play for about 10 minutes at each station.

The cards can also be used in a "Go Fish" Game or as flash cards. Many uses for them!

I also made a large map of the United States on felt backed table cloth. I drew the map using an opeg projector. The kids use the map and a coin. They toss the coin on a state, and have to name both the state and capital. I give them a list of the states so that they can intial the states that they correctly name. The one with the most wins!

Social studies
Posted by: Robin

We use trade books to teach the different regions. For instance, Sarah Morton's Day, Samuel Easton's Day and Tapanum's Day are great for teaching New England in the time of the Pilgrims and about the Native Americans that lived at that time. We also do a study of Lewis and Clark later in the year, and at that time, we tie in the states they passed through, the rivers that were important and the students research some of the Native American tribes they encountered. We also do state research using nonfiction materials and the internet, and the children create a PowerPoint slide show about their state. If you work with the librarian in your school, he/she probably can direct you to excellent books that you could use to help your study. Good luck!

Southeast Region ideas
Posted by: Lou

I teach the regions of the U.S., and I culminate each region with a special activity. For the Southeast, I ask parents to prepare a Southeastern picnic for us (it's really just a food sampling time). Four parents make jambalaya, fried okra, peach cobbler, and sweet potato pie. Each recipe is from a different state in the Southeast. Students then tally the dishes they liked on the board, and we tie it into math by finding out what percentage of our classroom likes each new dish.

"states & capitals"
Posted by: Tabitha

I used states and capitals BINGO and blank USA maps to help mine remember. They love playing BINGO. The first time we played I pulled down my large US map and gave them 20 seconds to answer. After a while we didn't need to use the map and they remembered the states and the capitals. The blank maps they filled in both the states and the capitals. I broke the US into the different regions and it helped them to remember each state and its capital. Mine really loved playing BINGO!