50 States Social Studies Lessons

Super Teacher Ideas Social Studies Activities: 50 States
Activities & Lesson Ideas
Social Studies - The 50 States
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Super Teacher Ideas
USA Road Trip - Brochure Project
Submitted by Patricia in Florida
4th Grade Teacher

Title: USA Road Trip

During this lesson students will combine computer skills, research skills, and writing skills to create a full color, tri fold brochure adverstising a famous landmark or city in the USA!

With an added touch of creativity the brochures are amazing. The students are given a list of 12 famous landmarks and 6 famous cities (ex: New York, Seattle, Yosemite National Park, Glacier Bay) to choose from and they research during two lab classes.

Next they are taught how to make a brochure and what the purpose of a brochure is. We look at many different types before we make ours.

The final product is shared and displayed in the classroom and with our second grade buddies through Mustang Mentors.


State Birthday Balloon Release
Submitted by Neoshea in Kansas
2nd Grade Teacher


During Kansas' birthday each student celebrates by writing a little something about themselves and the school's address on a Kansas shaped card. It is laminated and ties to a yellow balloon. On the birthday of Kansas we take the ballooons with the card attached and go outside. We sind "Happy Birthday to Kansas" and let the balloons go.

This is when geography comes in to play. We wait to see if any of our balloons are found and returned. When we have some return, we read the letter and talk about where the balloon went and what the distance was. We look at the map to have the visual. It is real fun!

Texas (or Your State) in a Can
Submitted by Terri from Texas
4th Grade Teacher

The following projectis always a hit at the end of the year when we are wrapping up what we have studied in Social Studies. In fourth grade in Texas, we teach Texas History. Every state has it's famous people so you are able to plug-in your state's name. It's really a lot of fun to see how creative the students get with what they collect and how they decorate their can. It's also a good idea to start collecting large cans in the beginning of the school year for this project. Enjoy.

TEXAS (your state) IN A CAN

  1. You must collect a LARGE can such as a large coffee can.
  2. You will then choose a famous Texan (put your state in here) to research on.
  3. You will decorate your can to show who you are researching and find at least five things that represent that person and what they did for Texas and/or what they stood for. It could be something you find or make...be creative!
  4. Write a full paragraph on each item in your can-why you chose it and why it represents your famous person.
  5. You will present this information and your famous can to the class.


50 States Project
Submitted by Danielle from South Carolina
3rd through 6th Grade Social Studies Teacher

I assign each student a different state. (I have about 50 students total, but if you have less you may want to work together with another class so that you will cover each of the 50 states.

Using the overhead projector, trace each state onto cardboard. Be sure that states are proportionate to each other. (For example, Rhode Island should not be the same size as Texas.) Student may cover their state in a "flour/salt" dough to create a 3D map. Next, students can add a star to mark the state's capital.

Variations can include adding symbols for goods; river systems; major water features; agriculture products.

When all states are complete, take students outside to piece their states together. (Be sure to arrange your puzzle on a flat surface. We like to use our tennis court.) Your students have just created a giant puzzle of the United States!


America the Beautiful
Submitted by Anjanette in Lousisana
2nd Grade Teacher


We were going over the song America the Beautiful. We discussed what each line meant in the song. Then I put my students in groups and had them draw pictures of each line in the song. (For example, Oh Beautiful for spacious skies...the group drew a picture of a blue sky with birds, clouds, sun, etc...)

I labeled each picture with the words from the song and put them up on the bulletin board. The students did a great job and everyone thought it was very creative.


State Pen Pals & Podcasts
Submitted by Lianna from Virginia
5th Grade Teacher

One great way to engage students in geography is by connecting them to students in another part of the world! With the internet, it is easy to find a teacher who is willing to participate in a podcast with your students, sending emails, or even writing letters!

I start out this unit by having the students read daily clues about the state which their pen pals are going to be from. They research different states in the computer lab to determine which state they are going to be studying. After my students have clued in to the correct state, we set up a podcast meeting where the students meet their to be pen pals.

Some of the activities during the unit include creating interview questions about what the state is like from another student's point of view, writing letters to the students, and researching other states to create a three way venn diagram comparison between out state, their pen pal's state, and a third state of their choosing.


States & Capitals: I have / Who has
Submitted by Jo from Pennsylvania
5th Grade Teacher


To help learn the states and capitals in Social Studies, we play a fun and educational game called I have.. Who has.. Each student gets an index card with the name of a state and a capital written on it.

When they hear their match, they stand up and say what is on their card. For example, the first card says...I have Start, who has Alabama? The student with Montgomery on their card stands up and says I have Montgomery who has Alaska? (Both of these are written on their card.) Then the student with Juneau written first on their card says I have Juneau, who has Arizona? This goes on until all of the states and capitals have been said and the last one reads I have Cheyenne and we're DONE! We use the big stopwatch on our Smartboard to keep track of our time and we try to beat all of the other classes' times. The class that gets the fastest time at the end of the month gets a prize. They get different cards every time we play so it's never the same game twice. The kids love this game and ask every day if we can play!

The cards are easy to make..I just used markers on small index cards and began by writing Start on the top of the card and Alabama on the bottom of the first one. Then, Montgomery and Alaska on the second, Juneau and Arizona on the third, Phoenix and Arkansas on the fourth and so on in alphabetical order. ( Be sure to write them on the top and the bottom of the cards, not beside each other.) The last card simply says Cheyenne and Done!