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Home : 2003 : Jul : 31

    By Linda

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    I don't know if this will help, but I teach 5th grade which covers the history of the US and its government. Each year I try to come up with some type of project which will let the students become aware of this country and all that it has to offer. We don't study each state per se so at the beginning of the year, I place the names of the states in a hat and let each student draw one out. He or she is then responsible for presenting the state to the class. This can be done in various forms. One year, I took a map of the US and enlarged it. I then cut it apart so that each student got the map of his state. The students then used letters and e-mail to contact each state and ask for information, pictures, etc. about that state. They then each made a collage of their state using all of the pictures they could find (some even used postcards sent by friends and relatives). These collages were then put back together as one entire map and it was hung in the hallway for the rest of the school to view. The principal liked it and it was reassembled in the multipurpose room the next year. Each student had to answer 20 questions about their state and these were printed and hung around the map. Also, those students who had Rhode Island, New Jersey - the small states - had to make a collage of the state plus a larger square collage to hang out in the "ocean".
    Last year, the students wrote a letter explaining they wanted to "travel the highways of the US" and placed it in trucker's lounges and hotels in our community. The letter asked travelers to send a postcard from places they stopped. The response was great. They decided to make a highway of the postcards to go around the school and made it about half-way. This year, I will have my new class continue the project to see if they can make it back to the classroom. If not, the next class can keep it up. The kids love to go along the hall looking at the cards. If there isn't an explanation on the front of the card as to what and where it is from, they type a small note and place it below. They even did a road to place the cards on and put wheels on them to make them look like cars on the road. We also did a state fair day where each student who wished to participate for extra credit researched the food products and famous foods from their state and then prepared and brought them to class. Parents were invited to join and sample the states.
    I hope these ideas help - even though they are not really on patriotism they do build awareness in the students of what makes up our country.
    Another project we did was to write letters to all of the military personnel from our home town - at the time of the conflict in Iraq we had 27 from a community of about 5,000 so they wrote a lot of letters. They also contacted their parents and obtained pictures of each one in their military uniforms and hung these on a wall of honor with a banner reading "Support (City's)Troops". They were also responsible for giving the city the names and banners for each branch of the military with each serviceman or woman's name on them were made and the kids carried them in a Cinco de Mayo parade and they were later presented to the class as a thank you for their patriotism and these hang in our hallway also.
    If you have any ideas on how to teach the government portion, I would love to hear them.

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