Have your heard of virtual field trips? With distance learning in place, maybe your end of school year field trips have been canceled. Maybe you are looking for a way to bring social studies to life for your elementary students. A virtual field trip is a way for your students to investigate, explore, and learn about a topic right from their home or classroom. With technology today, students can take a virtual tour to learn about our world.
One of the Washington State Social Studies Standards for 3rd Grade Geography, includes the investigation of the physical, political, and cultural characteristics of the regions, places, and people in North America. The standards also include the examination and use of maps and globes to understand the regions of North America in the past and present.
To be honest, when I read these two standards, I realized that there is SO MUCH packed in to these two sentences. And to truly learn about the regions of North America, all of these characteristics need to be covered. If you are lacking a text book, or curriculum, you might be wondering how in world you will be able to cover all of these components and with limited time.
A Virtual Field Trip
That's where a virtual field trip comes in. The Regions of North America Virtual Field Trip includes informational text, visuals, short video clips, and uses the 360 degree features of Google Earth to explore and learn about the regions.
The 5 Regions of North America
This virtual field trip covers the 5 regions of North America. Please know that there is no "official" determination of the regions, and different entities use different boundaries, So if you see a map with 8 or 12 regions, all of those are correct. For this lesson, I focused on breaking North America into 5 regions.
1. Western Region
2. Great Plains Region
3. Canadian Shield Region
4. Eastern Region
5. Caribbean Region
Topics & Voices Represented
In order for students to really grasp all of the characteristics of the regions, there are so many components to cover. Here are some of the topics included:
Maps (past and present)
Indigenous people (First Nations, American Indians)
Rocky Mountains (Mt. Elbert)
Cascade Mountains (Mt. St. Helens)
Sierra Madre Mountains
Sierra Mountains (Mt. Whitney)
Great Plains (agriculture)
Bison & Plains Indians
Hudson Bay (polar bears)
Appalachian Mountains (Mt. Mitchell)
Atlantic Coast & Newfoundland
Immigration (colonial days & Ellis Island)
Transatlantic Slave Trade
African American oppression
Caribbean Islands (Antigua & Barbuda)
Coral Reefs (climate change)
Mayans & Chichen Itza
& SO MUCH MORE!
As I put this together, one important aspect is understanding the people of the different regions. I wanted to represent as many voices as possible, so I asked myself "who's voice is represented here?" And also, "who's voice is missing?" I believe it is important to ask ourselves this question with any lesson we put together.
Distance Learning & Google Compatible
I know that teachers are busy, and in elementary there are so many subjects and standards to cover. I always try to make resources that are LOW PREP so that teachers can easily implement the content. I also realize that often teachers are lacking social studies curriculum, and so I made this resource as comprehensive as possible. I've set this up to be shared and completed using Google Slides. I have included all of the video links, direct links to specific things to explore in Google Earth, and have added in response questions and text boxes throughout. Super easy to assign!
A Note about Technology
Your students will need to use Chrome as their browser to access Google Earth. If using a tablet or smart phone, the Google Earth app will also work just fine.
If you are interested in this virtual field trip or maybe some of my other virtual trips, check them out here: