Which Way Should I Go?: Traveling Across the United States
Simulation for Grades 3-8
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Do you want your students to gain a better sense of direction within the United States while learning about some of the country's major cities and regions? This simulation reviews the 8 directions (N,S,E,W,NE,SE,NW,SW) while providing a regional geography of the United States through the Web sites of 18 cities and their environs.
Students will "travel" from the east to the west coast via these 18 cities. Beginning in Boston, they'll be told which city they should visit next and asked to indicate which direction they'll have to travel to get to that city. If they choose incorrectly, they'll be informed that they've arrived at another city and asked to try again. Once they've reached a destination city, they'll be given links to Web sites describing things to do, historic sites, and significant landmarks in and around that city. Naturally, some cities will have more sites than others, but all cities will have at least two sites to explore. They will then be asked to determine which direction to travel to the next city, and so on.
Students will need a United States road atlas or a good United States map to figure out the directions.
You can decide how to integrate this simulation into your curriculum. Below are some suggestions as to how you can direct students to use the simulation:
Have them map each city they visit on their own blank maps, and have them draw arrows between the cities to indicate their route. They can also map the "mistake" cities they reach when they choose an incorrect direction and mark these cities with a different color pencil than the "correct" cities. They will then have a record of how carefully they interpreted the road atlas and/or how accurately they selected the directions.
Ask students to look for specific things in each city, such as historic or cultural landmarks, landscape features and climate, or special festivals or events. They will then be on a mission to discover certain things about each city and will "visit" the cities with a defined purpose.
Have students pursue photographs from each city or region to get a sense of that region's topography and landscape. Then have them draw pictures of the landscape on their blank maps, thus creating a thematic map of the United States.
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