Monday, May 11, 2015

Third Grady State Study: Kansas and the United States

Almost three years ago, First Son did a study of Kansas history and state symbols, mainly because I did something like that when I was in third grade (for Georgia) so it seemed appropriate. I remember a lot about Georgia from that time and hoped First Son learned to know and love his home state a little better. I never wrote about it on the blog, but I've been thinking about it again because First Daughter will be in third grade next year. I'm going through my plans and modifying them a bit. This post is partly a review of what First Son did and a plan for what First Daughter will do next year.

Kansas (From Sea to Shining Sea) by W. Scott Ingram was First Son's main "text" book and I liked it very well. It is written at a level good for second or third graders to read independently but still gives lots of information.

Week 1
Chapter 1- Narrate. Draw a map of Kansas. Draw a sunflower.

Week 2
Chapter 2 - Narrate. For a notebook page, describe the three regions (Dissected Till Plains, Osage Plains, Flint Hills). What are the two main river systems? Add them to your map of Kansas.

Weeks 3 - 8
Chapter 3 (a history of Kansas) pp 17-22, pp 22-29, 30-34, 34-39, 39-43, 43-46 - Narrate each week.

Week 9
Chapter 4 - Narrate. What are the three branches of Kansas's state government? Describe them. What is the capital? Add it to your map.

Week 10
Chapter 5 - Narrate. Add some of the places mentioned to your map. Write pages for two of the places, drawing pictures and making notes.

Week 11
Kansas State Seal coloring page. Read the text on the coloring sheet and at this website. - Narrate.  We checked out How to Draw Kansas's Sights and Symbols from the library, just for fun.

Week 12
Kansas state flag coloring page. Research the state flag (some information is here). Narrate and color the flag for your notebook.

Week 13
Governor - Make a notebook page for the governor. Include where the governor was born, how long the governor has been in office, how else the governor has served in Kansas and any interesting facts.

Week 14
Make a notebook page for the state song. Write the lyrics and add drawings to illustrate it. The Higley text is the official state song. It's pretty long, so I printed the lyrics for First Son. I may have First Daughter just copy the first few verses. (We are familiar with this song, but if not, we would learn to sing it and work on memorizing it.)

Week 15
Bison for Kids by Todd Wilkinson - Narrate.
Make a notebook page on the bison. Include a drawing and some notes.

Week 16
Winter Wheat by Brenda Z. Guiberson - Narrate. Make a notebook page for it. Be sure to tell why it's important in Kansas.

The official Kansas study finished, we used time in the rest of the year to memorize states and capitals with States and Capitals Songs. I copied the CD onto the Kindles and let the children listen once a week. They all love the little songs, though they get repetitive for adults pretty quickly. More than two years later, my six year old will still ask to listen to them occasionally.

I worked with First Son to memorize the state abbreviations and postal codes using Learn the States and Postal Abbreviations. I thought this would be useful for First Son, but eventually decided it wasn't worth our time to worry about memorizing them.

We also read from My America: A Poetry Atlas of the United States occasionally during our weekly poetry time. (I would read poems from the book and we'd enjoy them together.) We often played the Scrambled States of America game, which is fun. Even non-readers can play if you adapt the game a little.

Melissa and Doug Wooden USA Map Puzzle can be useful in addition to mapwork on paper. We've had this puzzle for about ten years and it's still in great condition. We managed to keep the pieces safe by keeping it up high and only bringing it down when requested when we had babies and toddlers. Now that our youngest is four, it's still on a shelf, but low enough for any of the kids to use at any time.

For First Daughter next year, I'm going to modify the study a little. We'll start with Me on the Map. I intend to have her draw a map of her room, a map of our house, a map of the area around our house (being in the country, we don't really have a neighborhood), and label a county map. (The county names can be found here. This activity is useful in case of a tornado watch or storm moving through, familiarizing her with our county and the counties near us.) She can already find Kansas on a map of the United States and the US on a world map.

Then we'll read Kansas and go through the rest of the state study (seal, governor, flag, etc.). At the end, I'm adding a week for her to read Amelia Earhart: Adventure in the Sky by Francene Sabin. A biography with more detailed information and lots of photographs, Amelia Earhart: A Life in Flight, will be lying around if she's interested in learning more. The following week, I'll ask her to look through the photographs in The Four Seasons of Kansas.

First Daughter will then listen to the states and capitals songs, about one song a week or more often if she likes. She'll finish the year by reading Smart About the Fifty States.

In addition, I might offer some independent reading set in Kansas. Many of these books are use din our American history, so it just depends how our history studies match up. If it's something we'd read in a few months for history, I'll wait. If we wouldn't read it during the year, I'd provide it as an option for First Daughter's independent reading.

Wagon Wheels, Level 3, Grade 2-4 (I Can Read) by Barbara Brenner is a early reader book that tells an exciting story based on real life.

Pioneer Summer, Cabin in the Snow, and Our Kansas Home by Deborah Hopkinson is a trilogy set just as the settlers in Kansas territory were debating whether to become a free or slave state.

Little House on the Prairie by Laura Ingalls Wilder - of course! First Daughter has read this book many times already, so it won't be an option for her, but First Son did read this in third grade.

From Kansas to Cannibals: The Story of Osa Johnson by Suzanne Middendorf Arruda is the true story of a young woman from Kansas who traveled to exotic locations around the world making films with her husband of wildlife and native peoples. This book works really well in third grade for us as it covers both Kansas and jungle life, coordinating with our Jungle Islands study. Be aware the attitudes of Osa and her colleagues are very different from those we expect today regarding conservation and diversity which can prompt discussions. You can find many examples of her work on youtube, too.

Additionally, I'll put some Kansas picture books in book baskets for Second Daughter or Second Son.

Aunt Minnie McGranahan and Aunt Minnie and the Twister by Mary Skillings Prigger
Going West by Jean van Leeuwen
Cooking with Henry and Elliebelly by Carolyn Parkhurst - This book isn't really about Kansas, but Henry wisely uses Kansas wheat in his waffles and the depiction of advertising is too funny to miss.
S is for Sunflower: A Kansas Alphabet by Devin Scillian - I never read all the words in books like these to my little ones, but the older ones might like reading it themselves.

Some fun picture books of all the states:
How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. by Marjorie Priceman
The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller
America the Beautiful by Katharine Lee Bates, illustrated by Chris Gall

Finally, I'm really hoping to add some Kansas travel to our year. I don't often travel alone with the children, so our travels will depend on a combination of when Kansas Dad can get away and how adventurous and brave I am. Some of the sites I'm considering are: Topeka, Abilene, the Martin and Osa Johnson Museum, the Tallgrass Prairie Preserve, the Cathedral of the Plains, and the Flint Hills. Over the summer and in early fall, we're planning to visit the Little House on the Prairie Museum and Old Cowtown Museum. Kansas Trail Guide: The Best Hiking, Biking, and Riding in the Sunflower State has me dreaming...


  1. This is a neat post, thank you! Gives me some ideas for summer studies around here.

    I *love* "Me on the Map". There is one called "Me and my Place in Space" that is cute too, although it hasn't been updated since Pluto got the boot. ;-) Gemma recently studied space at school and I got it for her from the library.

    I have my eye on that puzzle now...

    1. Kansas Dad always says Pluto is a planet no matter what the scientists say. Ha!

      That puzzle is so amazing. First Son could place all the states when he was about three, even Colorado and Wyoming, which I could only tell apart by reading the name! I think we received it as a gift, but maybe it'll show up on one of those Melissa and Doug sales Amazon runs every now and then.

  2. I always try to get a few educational things prior to the summer for the kids, so I ordered it (from your link! although I got it from a third party seller, not sure if that makes a difference). So as not to sound terribly impulsive, map puzzles are something that I have been thinking we would "need" here for awhile. It will be good to have. I also requested some of the books in this post from the library, I have been working on our summer routine and I think we will spend an afternoon each week on Kansas/the states. Thanks to you! Thank you again for sharing this!!

    1. Wonderful! I hope you enjoy them! I'm not very good at managing my Amazon links. I think the commission depends more on the price of the item than who sells it. Anyway, I'm grateful for any little bit because I certainly buy enough books and school stuff to make use of it all.


Comments make me happy; thanks for speaking up!