Classroom Resources

Monthly Themes

U.S. Geography

Writing Prompt

Opinion Essay:

Have students choose an important landmark in the United States and write an essay explaining why this landmark would be a great place to visit.


Grades 1–3: Geography

In Compass Tag, students will play a game using the cardinal directions to locate different objects around the classroom.

  • Compass Tag
Grades 2–4: Geography/Reading
Book Map

Have students choose a favorite book and make a map of its main setting. Encourage students to create a legend and draw a compass rose. Have older students explain the significance of the setting to the story.

Grades 2–5: Geography/Math
Drawn to Scale

Have students use a map scale to determine actual distances.

  • Using Scale
Grades 3–4: Geography
Class Trip

Have students make a class map that shows the routes students take when they travel from home to school.

  • Map It Out!
Grades 3–5: Social Studies
State Facts

Have students research and share interesting facts about their state or other U.S. states.

  • State Facts
Grades 3–5: Geography
Scavenger Hunt

Students will enjoy learning map skills by creating their own treasure map. Have students hide several items inside the classroom or around the school. Then have students draw a map showing the exact location of the items. Have students include grid lines and cardinal directions.

Grades 3–8: Geography
Map It!

Have students practice the essential skill of mapping by creating their own maps.

  • Make a Map (grades 3–5)
  • Using Grids (grades 4–8)
Grades 3–8: Geography
Which Way Is Which?

Have students create a box compass or a water compass.

Grades 5–8: Geography/Math
Shortcut to Longitude

Have students play a game to understand the importance of having a precise timepiece (also known as a chronometer) when determining longitude.

Grades 1–8: Geography
Bird's Eye View

Give students a stunning perspective of their own local geography. Have students enter a street address to see an image of their home or school taken from a satellite camera. Challenge students to compare the aerial photo with the optional topographic map.

Grades 2–8: Geography
Where the Teams Are

U.S. sports teams are all over the map. Have students locate the home cities of sports teams on a simple state or national map. Older students can track a team's travels across the country.

Grades 2–8: Language Arts
Word Finds

Have students find geography-related words hidden in a puzzle.

  • U.S. Geography (grades 2–3) (PDF file)
  • U.S. Geography Answer Key (grades 2–3) (PDF file)
  • U.S. Geography (grades 4–8) (PDF file)
  • U.S. Geography Answer Key (grades 4–8) (PDF file)
Grades 2–8: Language Arts
Greetings, American Style

Have students send an e-card with a beautiful image of the United States to their friends and families.

Grades 3–5: Geography
State Champions

Student teams master information about state geography and use it to challenge fellow classmates in a geography game.

Grades 3–5: Language Arts/Geography/Music
This Town is Our Town

Have students turn the famous Woody Guthrie song “This Land is Your Land” into a hometown song by replacing words such as “California” and “Redwood Forest” with local landmarks.

Grades 3–5: Geography
Location, Location, Location!

How well do your students know the locations of all 50 states? Have students put their stately knowledge to the test.

Grades 3–6: Social Studies
State the Facts

Challenge your students with quizzes based on the 2000 census.

Grades 3–6: Social Studies
State Capital Match

Learning state capitals is fun when you divide your class into teams and play State Capital Match Five!

Grades 3–8: Geography
An American Journey

Have students map out a land trip from their home state and back again. If possible, they should pass through the remaining 47 contiguous states and Washington, D.C., only once. Challenge older students to provide mileage for both the longest route and the shortest route. Have students explain their choices.

Grades 3–8: Geography
Water, Water, Everywhere!

The United States is a water wonderland. Can your students identify the many bodies of water that enrich their lives? Have them play an interactive game to find out.

Grades 3–8: Geography
As the Crow Flies

When students ask, “How many miles it is from here to there?” you can have them find out the easy way.

Grades 3–8: Geography
Who Came First?

When did your state become part of the United States? Have students observe the changing boundaries of the United States.

Grades 4–6: Geography
Our Town

A local almanac is a valuable community asset. Have students gather local geographic information and work together to create a community almanac.

Grades 4–6: Geography
Build a Volcano

Volcanoes, when they erupt, are dramatic and dangerous landforms. Have students create a tamer, paper version in the classroom.

Grades 4–8: Social Studies
State Capital Match

Do your students know the state capitals? Challenge them with these matchups.

Grades 4–8: Social Studies
Capital Quizzes

Can your students choose the correct capital city for each state? These quizzes give them four cities from each state to choose from.

Grades 4–8: Language Arts/Social Studies
State Nickname Matchup

From the Aloha State (Hawaii) to the Pine Tree State (Maine), each U.S. state has its own nickname. How many can your students match up?

Grades 4–8: Geography/Art
National Map

Have students label a blank map of the United States with state names. Older students can also add the names of state capitals.

  • United States (PDF file)
Grades 4–8: Geography
A Different Life

Physical geography, such as rivers and mountains, and human structures, such as roads, bridges, and buildings, directly affect the daily activities of people. Hold a class discussion on the interactions of people and geography. Then have students identify one or two geographic features near home or school and explain how their lives might be different without each feature.

Grades 4–8: Geography
Winning Geography

Turn your students into geography wiz kids. Have them play a fun, interactive game based on six National Geographic Standards.

Grades 4–8: Geography/Art
Building a Reef

The diverse landscape of the United States includes coral reefs, atolls, and volcanoes. Have students construct model landforms, using paper patterns, and achieve a greater appreciation of the relations between volcanic islands, the growth of coral reefs, and atolls.

Grades 4–8: Geography/Math
State the Facts

Have each student choose three to five states to compare for population, housing, language, or other statistics. Then have students select three to five criteria about the states to compare, using data from the latest U.S. Census. Have students present their work in a graph and then share it with the class. Challenge students to predict what they might find before reading the census data.

Grades 4–8: Geography
A Watershed Event

Many events that happen in a watershed affect the quality of the water we rely on. Do your students know what these events are? Would your students make the best decisions in managing a watershed? Have students examine the issues in each area of a watershed and then see the impact of their choices.

Grades 5–8: Geography
Hot Lava and Quakes

Has your state, or a nearby state, had an earthquake or a volcanic eruption lately? Have students find out and learn more about these natural disasters, past and present. Then have students research community emergency procedures for earthquakes or volcanoes and create informational posters.

Grades 6–8: Geography
Land Facts

Have students view a topographic map of the United States and answer a set of questions about the country's landforms. (Answers and facts are provided.)

Grades 6–8: Geography/Language Arts
What's in a Name?

Examining place names is a fun (and productive) way to learn local geography. Have students research place names in their state and analyze the varied sources of those place names.

Grades 6–8: Geography
A Tale of Two Regions

Have students become familiar with the geography of their own region and then use what they learn to locate a similar region elsewhere. After researching the other region, have students compare and contrast lifestyles in the two places to answer the question, “How does geography affect the way people live?”

Grades 7–8: Language Arts
Geography Crossword Puzzle

Have students test their knowledge of geography with a word game.

  • U.S. Geography (PDF file)
  • U.S. Geography Answer Key (PDF file)
Grade 8: Geography
A New Prairie

The prairie is one of North America's great ecosystems and a vital habitat for many plants and animals. Over 98% of the prairie has been lost in the past 150 years. Can your students bring it back? Have students restore a prairie, using knowledge of biology, ecology, climatology, and even economics.

Houghton Mifflin