Teaching a unit on Virginia’s geography can be really boring with textbooks, but really fun if you get creative! Check out these ideas for engaging activities to teach Virginia’s geography in your 4th or 5th grade classroom!
I love to kick off the VS.2 standards with a trip outside! Students can draw and write about the land around them. If you’re able, a field trip is a great way to see more of the state. If you take one later in the year, it’s a nice review.
Atlases and state maps make for a fun social studies center. So many kids haven’t held print maps before! You can often find free maps in tourism offices. You can also request a free VA travel guide here.
For a more in-depth exploration, I love using Google Maps and Google Earth. With the terrain view, students can really see the different landforms, water features, and ground cover across Virginia.
Study Postcards and Photos
Photo postcards and regular photographs help students see parts of Virginia that they haven’t been to before. They can use them to compare the geography of the 5 regions and learn about famous cities and landmarks (ahem, Go Hokies!) as well as regional products/industries.
Make Art Projects
Bringing art into social studies = instant engagement! Making salt dough maps of Virginia is always a fun art project.
I also love to have students create a giant wall mural! I trace Virginia’s state and regional borders and have the kids work in groups to label and decorate the rest of the map. One year, I added tiny photos of them, which they thought was hilarious!
A few nonfiction books that can support your VS.2 unit include:
- Virginia (True Book Series) by Jennifer Hackett
- Celebrating Virginia and Washington, DC by Marion Dane Bauer (a little easier read)
Steven K. Smith’s Virginia Mysteries series is fictional, but the stories are set in different parts of the state.
Solve Logic Puzzles
Logic puzzles are perfect when you want challenging activities to teach or review content. These Virginia geography logic puzzles help students review bordering states, regions, and bodies of water.
Watch VA Trekkers Videos
Virginia Trekkers is definitely a website you’ll want to bookmark if you teach Virginia Studies. Check out the video podcasts for a fun virtual field trip around the state.
Write About It
You can bring Virginia’s geography into writing workshop with concrete and acrostic poems, persuasive letters, paragraphs, descriptive writing, and media messages.
These Virginia regions templates make it easy to combine Virginia Studies, writing, and art! They’re great for interactive notebooks or to make a class book.
Browse Virginia’s Tourism Website
Virginia.org has a great tourism website with an interactive map and lots of photos to support your lessons. Check out the “Places to Visit” tab on the top. And there’s a whole section just for the LOVE signs, too!
Try Cross-Curricular Activities
Finally, you know how much I love cross-curricular activities. Geography is no exception!
I hope you’ve found some great Virginia geography activities you’re excited to try with your 4th or 5th grade students! Let me know what other fun ideas you have to teach this unit!