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Virginia’s Economy Activities for Elementary Students

April 11, 2023 No Comments
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If you teach Virginia Studies, you know that kids have to learn quite a lot about Virginia’s economy – especially Virginia’s products and industries.

Some parts of this standard they may be familiar with, like Virginia’s cash crops, but other parts, like chemical goods and banking and lending, can be tough for 4th and 5th graders to grasp.

And it’s not easy to find kid-friendly resources to teach about Virginia’s economy (VS.10). So in this blog post, I’ve pulled together a few resources and activities that I hope will help as you plan this unit!

Virginia’s Major Products and Industries

There are LOTS of products and industries to teach with this SOL. The more photos you can show your students, the better, especially for trickier occupations like IT and systems design.

Here are some activities you can try:

  • have students brainstorm a list of Virginia-based products and industries (a good prompt is to think about places they visit in your community – like the farmers’ market)
  • set up a gallery walk with photos of common Virginia products (even better, bring in the real thing – think apples, corn, soda, coal, etc.)
  • consider hosting a mini Career Day or setting up a Zoom call to learn about different occupations Virginians have in the top industries
these VS.10 interactive notebook elements help students learn about Virginia's major products and industries

And here are some helpful online resources:

  • check out Virginia’s top cash crops in this table
  • skim the Virginia Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services site to learn about Virginia’s farms (includes a cash crops map and a quiz)
  • check out this infographic about fishing and crabbing in Virginia
  • display the map on this VEDP page so students can see where some of their favorite brands are manufactured across the state
  • Want to bring in a little math? This website has some charts and graphs that you can use to show students how manufacturing and exporting have grown over time, along with what the top manufactured goods are.
teach VS.10 with these Virginia's economy activities from Alyssa Teaches

Research projects work well for this unit, too!

Virginia’s Economic Development

Aside from naming Virginia’s major goods and services, students also have to learn about the changes Virginia’s economy has experienced over time and its role in the global economy.

Considering what products Virginia must import to meet our needs is an easy place to start.

Having students explore Google Maps and Google Earth is a good way to introduce the role of the transportation system in Virginia’s economy. You can also point out the locations of federal government buildings in and near Virginia.

There are some cool transportation photos on the Virginia Museum of History and Culture website, too.

And exploring the Virginia tourism website is also a lot of fun. The “places to visit” and “things to do” tabs do a great job of highlighting state attractions that bring in tourists. (You can also request a free visitor’s guide, which is also a good way to review Virginia’s regions.)

Virginia’s Economy Activities

I’ve put together a packet of Virginia’s economy activities that you can use as you’re teaching VS.10. It’s totally aligned to the standard so you don’t have to create everything from scratch!

Virginia's economy worksheets make it easy to teach VS.10

It includes lots of low-prep printable resources to get you through this unit (or to save for well for Virginia Studies SOL review), like:

  • posters
  • interactive notebook templates
  • worksheets
  • research graphic organizer
  • nonfiction reading comprehension

Wow! There is a ton to cover when you teach Virginia’s economy to your 4th or 5th graders. Be sure to bookmark this page so you can keep these ideas and resources handy when you plan your VS.10 activities!

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