K-12 Teaching and Learning From the UNC School of Education

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Learning outcomes

  • Writing: Students will write letters and send email to pen pals.
  • Math: Students will tell time to the nearest half-hour.
  • Puzzles/Games: Students will work together to complete puzzles.
  • Computer: Students will enter a URL to find information out about different U.S. cities.
  • Art: Students will create a neighborhood showing physical characteristics.
  • Science: Students will compare their local weather to weather around the United States.
  • Reading: Students will compare rural areas to urban areas.
  • Social Studies: Students will use a map and a globe and identify the location of the neighborhood on a city map.
  • Listening: Students will listen to Three Names and identify changes that have occured in our neighborhood.

Teacher planning

Time required for lesson

7 hours


  • Writing: desk map of the United States, paper, envelopes
  • Math: Nine O’Clock Lullaby by Marilyn Singer (Econo-Clad Books; ISBN: 0785707794), paper, clock stamps
  • Puzzles/Games: puzzle of USA or World
  • Art: different size milk cartons, construction paper, markers, modeling clay, other items you can use to make milk carton neighborhood
  • Science: USA Today newspaper, copies of a blank map of the USA, crayons
  • Reading: Night in the Country by Cynthia Rylant (Econo-Clad Books; ISBN: 0833570277), City Night, copy of Venn diagram for each student
  • Social Studies: globe, worksheet #1 (see attachments), local map (of township, city, etc.), paper
  • Listening: Three Names by Patricia MacLachlan (HarperCollins Children’s Books; ISBN: 0060240369), worksheet #2 (see attachment)

Technology resources

A computer with internet access, address to web site (see below in activities).


Before I start centers I spend about a week or two introducing the geography theme. All concepts need to be introduced before centers so students can do the activities independently. Students should be taught how to read a map and a globe. I use centers as an assessment to see if they understand what we have been discussing in class.


  • Writing: The students will look on the desk map and choose a city and write a letter to a second grade pen pal. They will ask questions about their pen pal’s neighborhood and community. (Send letter: “Dear Postmaster: Please mail this letter to any second grade class in City, State”) Students will also go online and find a student to whom they will send a similar email: ePals. (If you only have limited computers in your room have these students do this some other time during the day.) Then have students compare the two forms of communication.
  • Math: Together the students will read Nine O’Clock Lullaby. Then the students will stamp clocks onto their paper using the clock stamp. The students will then draw hands on the clocks showing the different times across America which are given in the book.
  • Puzzles/Games: The students will work together to assemble a puzzle of the USA or the World.
  • Computer: Have students explore different cities using sites such as Google Maps and the city webpages, which should be one of the first few results when students search for the city’s name on any major search engine. Then have the students write about the city they learned about.
  • Art: Students will use milk cartons, modeling clay, etc… to make something to add to the model neighborhood. They can make houses, stores, churches, etc.
  • Science: Each student will get a blank copy of the map of the USA. They will use a newspaper to find out what the weather is like in other states. They will use the desk map to locate the states and draw a weather symbol on their map showing the weather in those states. They will then compare the weather in their region to the weather in other regions.
  • Reading: The students will read the stories Night in the Country and City Night. They will compare the two neighborhoods (country vs. city) on a Venn diagram.
  • Social Studies: First students will use a globe to locate a favorite place in the world. They will do worksheet #1 (see below). Second they will plot where they live on a local map and compare where they live to where others live. They will answer questions about how they would describe the location of their neighborhood.
  • Listening: The students will listen to Three Names and then do worksheet #2 (see below). On the worksheet the students will compare how times were different back during the book times to today.


The students will turn in any work they do at their center.

I usually have two parent volunteers and my assistant to help. They stay at three of the hardest centers and I float around. They can give me feedback on who had trouble.

A teacher-made rubric could be created to assess the different activities (you might use 4teachers as a reference).

Supplemental information


  • North Carolina Essential Standards
    • Social Studies (2010)
      • Grade 1

        • 1.G.1 Use geographic representations, terms and technologies to process information from a spatial perspective. 1.G.1.1 Use geographic tools to identify characteristics of various landforms and bodies of water. 1.G.1.2 Give examples showing location of places...

North Carolina curriculum alignment

Social Studies (2003)

Grade 2

  • Goal 5: The learner will understand the relationship between people and geography in various communities.
    • Objective 5.02: Describe the role of a geographer and apply geographic tools, such as maps, globes, compasses and photographs, in the understanding of locations and characteristics of places and regions.
    • Objective 5.04: Identify the absolute and relative location of communities.
    • Objective 5.05: Interpret maps, charts, and pictures of locations.

Visual Arts Education (2001)

Grade 2

  • Goal 1: The learner will develop critical and creative thinking skills and perceptual awareness necessary for understanding and producing art.
    • Objective 1.02: Plan and organize for creating art.
    • Objective 1.08: Recognize that images from reality and from fantasy may be used to create original art.