Thursday, September 19, 2013

Road Trip

This year for homeschool I decided to do something different.  I decided to take the kids on a road trip through the different states.  We will pretend to visit each state and learn fun information.  I was so excited to start preparing for this wonderful journey. 

Getting Started:
I looked up the department of tourism for each state and found a phone number or email to contact them.  I asked them if they had any information they could send us, because we were learning about their state this year for school.  I wanted the kids to learn about their state's flag, crest, bird, tree, etc., as well as where to visit when traveling to there state.
The people I contacted could not have been any nicer.  Most of them were excited to send me stuff.  I also looked up information on each states website.  Now let me tell you, each state has two websites, one is for tourism and the another is a government site.  Both sights are useful.  One of these sights will have interesting facts about the state and some are even kid friendly with printable pages and activities.  You have to check both sites to see which ones will have this information, but I found it is mostly on the gov. website.  I kept a log of each state I called.  I also wrote down the website address and where to find the state information.  This will save you time during the school year.
The second shelf is loaded with packets I have received so far from each state.  It has been fun getting all this stuff in the mail. 
When we decided to visit a state, I allow the kids to go through the packet of information and see what they can find.  They are excited to do this. 
Next Step: 
I wanted my kids to color each states flag and fill in information concerning each state.  I also wanted activities sheets for each state.  My first find was this book called Nifty 50 States by Jerry Aten.  This is a Good Apple product for Social Studies, grades 4-8.  I found this book at a teacher store in the consignment part for only (drum roll please) $2.  That's right, $2.  Even though our children are not in these grades yet, there was still some material we could use from this book.
 This book has 3 pages front and back dedicated to each state.  I only needed the first page.  The front side gave an outline of the state, while the second side gave information and asked state questions.  This is exactly what I was looking for and needed.

 I made copies of each page, so I could reuse them later.  I then printed activity pages for the kids from the state's website or from google.  Here are some of the activity sheets.
Once we have the information we need for each state, then we get move'n. 
Starting Our Journey
We set up our chairs to pretend we are in a car and invite the little ones to join us in the fun.  We face the United States map and decide what directions to take as we pretend to drive toward that state (north, south, east, west).  
 Pretending to drive in a car can be lots of exercise and excitement as you; drive over many railroads tracks, speed up and slow down, turn corners, stop to get gas, pretend to stop at a hotel over night, etc.  Once our drive is over, we then  pull out the packet of information that was sent to us by the state.  I let the kids dig through it and see what treasures we can find.  For example: In the magazine about Illinois, there is an article that tells about the unofficial, official town of Superman - Metropolis.  This city is in the lower part of Illinois and has great things to offer Superman fans!  (Which we are, BTW)  We also found out that this was the home state of Lincoln. 
This allows us to learn about each of the things we find.  We can now take the opportunity, if we wish, to learn a brief overview about Abraham Lincoln. 
Our journey is now underway.  We have hung up the state map and put a star by the capital.  We listen to the state song and we look up information on the website to fill in our worksheets that will go into our binders.   
We color the state flag on the state and write the abbreviation of the state in the united states.  Here is some examples.


By the end of the year we should have a binder for each child filled with 50 states.
My goal is for our children to learn each state, their abbreviation, and the capital.  I also would like for them to learn something about the state that they will remember or a place they would like to visit in the state.   So far we have enjoyed our road trip through different states.