Canada’s Geography

Learn about the geography of Canada.

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to name the regions of Canada.
  • Students will be able to identify the location of each region in Canada.
  • Students will be able to describe the unique features of each region in Canada.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

Canada is the second largest country in the world, spanning 3,200 miles from coast to coast. The country consists of six regions. The largest of these regions, the Canadian Shield, is the oldest part of North America. Once covered with glaciers, it is now mostly dense forests. There are also flat swamps called muskegs throughout the Canadian Shield. Muskeg is a Chippewa Indian word for swampy ground. There are many logging, lumber and paper companies in the Canadian Shield. The lakes and rivers created by melting glaciers are now used to power machines that make electricity.

The smallest region in Canada is the Great Lakes-St. Lawrence Lowlands Region. It is located in the southeastern part of Canada and borders the United States. The St. Lawrence River flows between the two countries. Often called the “Mother of Canada,” the St. Lawrence River was used by the first Europeans who explored Canada. Canada’s major cities of Quebec, Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto are built along this river. Since it is the warmest part of Canada, the growing season in this region is long enough for crops such as corn, beans, squash and sunflowers to grow. There are also fruit orchards and dairy farms in the St. Lawrence Lowlands.

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Dictators and the Start of World War II

Learn about the rise of dictatorships that led to the start of World War II.

Objectives:

  • Students will be to name the dictators that ruled Italy, Germany and Japan during World War II.
  • Students will be able to explain what a dictator is.
  • Students will be able to describe how Adolf Hitler rose to power.
  • Students will be able to identify the countries that formed the Axis Powers in 1936.
  • Students will be able to explain why World War II started.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

When the United States fought in World War I, President Woodrow Wilson wanted to “make the world safe for democracy.” But soon after the war ended, some governments in Europe and Asia became anything but democratic. In many countries, dictators were gaining control. A dictator controls a country without giving the people any rights.

In 1922, Italy became the first European country to fall under the rule of a dictator. The dictator’s name was Benito Mussolini. He took control of Italy by promising to end the poverty that had become widespread in the country after World War I. Under Mussolini, the Italian people had no rights or freedoms. The dictator defended his way of ruling by saying that “men nowadays are tired of liberty.”

In Germany, similar trouble was brewing. The Treaty of Versailles that ended World War I had forced Germany pay for damages, leaving the country with no money to rebuild itself. The Great Depression also affected Germany, and by 1932, one third of Germans did not have jobs. They turned to a leader named Adolf Hitler who promised that he could end hard times and make Germany a powerful empire. Hitler told the Germans that they were members of a “master race.” He convinced some that they were destined to rule the world. Hitler blamed Jewish people for the troubles in Germany. His followers, known as Nazis, set out to eliminate the Jews. Under Hitler, millions of Jewish men, women and children were sent to concentration camps where they were starved and murdered.

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World War I

Learn about World War I, the results of the war, and how and when the U.S. became involved.

Objectives:

  • Students will be to state that World War I began in 1914 after the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand.
  • Students will understand that the United States remained neutral at the start of World War I and did not enter the fighting until 1918.
  • Students will be able to identify the Lusitania and explain why it is significant to World War I history.
  • Students will be able to identify the sinking of American ships by Germany as the impetus for the U.S. to declare war on Germany in 1917.
  • Students will be able to describe the purpose of the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations.
  • Students will understand that President Wilson signed the Treaty of Versailles but it was never approved by Congress and the U.S. did not join the League of Nations.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade – 7th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

The First World War began in 1914, a few years before the United States entered the battle. The war began when Archduke Franz Ferdinand, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungry, was assassinated. Countries took sides with their friends, and soon a world war was in full force.

In the beginning, President Woodrow Wilson asked Americans not to take sides in the war taking place between the Central Powers and the Allied Powers. The Central Powers included Germany, Austria-Hungary, and Turkey. The Allied Powers included Great Britain, France, and Russia. Greece, Serbia, Romania, Italy and Portugal also fought on the Allies’ side. While the U.S. remained neutral at first, it did send supplies to troops fighting overseas on both sides of the war. This was seen as simply a matter of doing business with other countries. However, early on, American ships carrying supplies to the Central Powers were stopped by the British Navy, but no one interfered with American trade to the Allied countries.

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The United States under Theodore Roosevelt

Learn about the 26TH U.S. President and the changes that took place while he was in office.

Objectives:

  • Students will be name Teddy Roosevelt as the 26th President and explain that he became President when William McKinley was assassinated.
  • Students will be able to describe the key events that took place under Roosevelt’s administration, including the “fair deal,” building of the Panama Canal and conservation efforts.
  • Students will be able to list and describe the three things Roosevelt created as part of his conservation effort – national forests, wildlife refuges and national parks.
  • Students will recognize the invention of the Model T Ford and the Wright Brothers’ first flight as events that took place while Teddy Roosevelt was in office.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

In 1901, Theodore Roosevelt became the 26th President of the United States. He had been Vice President under William McKinley and became President when McKinley was assassinated on September 6, 1901. Theodore – who was usually called “Teddy” – and his wife moved into the White House with their six children and a large collection of pets that included dogs, rabbits, squirrels and even a black bear and a badger!

Teddy Roosevelt was not like any other President before him. He had a lot of energy and was often found playing football on the White House lawn or having pillow fights with his children. He was energetic about his job too, and many changes took place in the country while he was in office from 1901-1909. For example, in 1902, coal miners went on strike for shorter hours and more pay. Mine owners were angry, but Roosevelt was on the workers’ side. He demanded that big business treat workers fairly, and with his help, the coal miners won a raise and a shorter workday.

 

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The Cold War

Learn about the Cold War between the United States and communism.

Objectives:

  • Students will understand that the cold war was not a physical war.
  • Students will be able to explain why the cold war took place.
  • Students will be able to define communism.
  • Students will be able to identify the European countries that were communist during the cold war.
  • Students will be able to describe the arms race between the U.S. and the Soviet Union.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

In 1945, representatives from 50 countries met in San Francisco, California to set up a new organization called the United Nations (UN). Their goal was to prevent war, protect human rights and work to make the lives of all people better. At the time, the United States and the Soviet Union were the two most powerful countries in the world. Though they were both called superpowers, the U.S. and the Soviet Union were very different from each other.

The Soviet Union was the first communist country in the world. It was ruled by a dictator named Joseph Stalin. In a communist country, almost everything is owned and distributed by the government. In contrast, the United States is a democracy run by elected leaders where people are allowed to live and work anywhere they choose. The differences between the two superpowers had been put aside during World War II when the U.S. and the Soviet Union both fought on the side of the Allies. However, after the war, conflict began to arise between the two nations.

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The Spanish American War

Learn about the Spanish American War and its results.

Objectives:

  • Students will be able to explain why the United States went to war with Spain.
  • Students will be able to describe the first battle of the Spanish American War.
  • Students will be able to describe Roosevelt’s ride up San Juan Hill and its results.
  • Students will be able to explain what happened to Cuba, the Philippines, Puerto Rico and Guam when the Spanish American War ended.
  • Students will understand that Cuba and the Philippines are now independent countries while Puerto Rico and Guam remain territories of the United States.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

In 1896, Spain had two colonies in North America – Cuba and Puerto Rico. It also had several colonies in Asia. In Cuba, people had rebelled against Spain and reports of Spanish cruelty in Cuba reached the United States. Then in 1898, the American battleship Maine mysteriously blew up while visiting Cuba. While no one knew for sure why the ship exploded, Spain was blamed. The United States decided to go to war to free Cuba from Spain.

The first battle of the Spanish-American War was fought in 1898 in the Philippines, a Spanish colony in Asia. The Philippines is a group of islands in the western Pacific Ocean. On May 1, 1898, the American navy, led by the commander George Dewey, attacked the Philippines. After a week of fighting, Spain had lost nearly half of its navy. At the time, the Assistant Secretary of the navy was Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt quit his job and volunteered to lead a group of 17,000 troops called the “Rough Riders” into Cuba to fight the Spanish.

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Alaska and Hawaii – Geography and Acquisition

Learn about the geography of Alaska and Hawaii and how each region was acquired by the United States.

Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to describe the geography of Alaska.
  2. Students will be able to explain how Alaska was acquired by the United States and tell when it became a state.
  3. Students will be able to describe the geography of Hawaii.
  4. Students will be able to explain how Hawaii was acquired by the United States and tell when it became a state.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

Alaska and Hawaii became territories of the United States in the 1800s. The U.S. purchased Alaska from Russia in 1867, and Hawaii became a territory in 1898. Later, these territories would become the 49th and 50th states – the only U.S. states not connected to the mainland.

Alaska consists of a large peninsula, a group of islands and a narrow panhandle that is separated from Canada by a steep mountain range. There are many other mountain ranges throughout the Alaskan Peninsula. One of these mountain ranges is home to Mount McKinley, the tallest mountain in North America. Mount McKinley reaches a height of 20,320 feet. The geography of Alaska also features volcanoes, rivers and glaciers that still remain from the Ice Age. Along the north shore of the region is a frozen plain known as the Alaskan Tundra. In Russian, tundra means “where the trees are not.”

 

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The Southern Colonies of the United States

Learn about the geography and economy of the Southern colonies/states.

Objectives:

  1. Students will be able to name the states of the Southern region.
  2. Students will be able to describe the geography and climate of the Southern region.
  3. Students will be able to define the term cash crop and identify cash crops that were important to the economy in the South.
  4. Students will be able to describe how each of the Southern states was originally established as a colony.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

The southern region of the United States contains five of the original thirteen colonies – Maryland, Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina and Georgia. This region is known as the tidewater region because of the many waterways along its low-lying coast. The climate and soil in the south is suitable for raising crops like cotton, peaches and peanuts. In colonial times, rice, tobacco and indigo (a plant used to produce blue dye) were also important cash crops – crops that can easily be sold. The growing season in the south lasts from seven to eight months, so farming was an important part of life there.

The tidewater forests also offered many opportunities for hunters. The forests were filled with ducks, dear, bears, buffalo and turkeys. There were also many fish to be caught in the rivers of the tidewater region.

Virginia was the first colony in the southern region. Then, in 1632, George Calvert asked the king for an area of land for Catholics. The area became known as the colony of Maryland. By 1640, however, most of the colonists in Maryland were not Catholic. The Carolinas were the next colonies established. First known as one colony called Carolina, this area was a gift from King Charles II to eight of his friends. They named the region Carolina after him (Charles is Carolus in Latin). King George II took over Carolina in 1729 and divided it into two colonies. North Carolina attracted many tobacco farmers from Virginia, while the swampy soil in South Carolina was more suitable for growing rice and indigo.

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New France: The French in America

Learn about the role of France in the history of North America.

Objectives:

  1. Students will understand why French explorers came to North America.
  2. Students will be able to describe the history of French colonies in Canada.
  3. Students will be able to identify French explorers and describe their expeditions in North America.
  4. Students will be able to identify New Orleans as an American city founded by the French.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

Like England and Spain, the country of France also played a role in the history of America. In the early 1500’s, French explorers came to North America looking for gold and jewels. Like other European explorers, the French soon realized that they would not find gold and jewels in the new land. They did, however, find other riches like furs and fish.

In the spring, French fishermen would set out for America. They traded with Native Americans in Canada for beaver furs and brought both fish and furs back to France each fall. In France, hats made of beaver fur became so popular that hat makers could not keep them in stock. Fur traders were quickly able to make a fortune.

As the fur trade grew, the French set up a colony in Canada called New France. The colony was started by the French explorer and geographer Samuel de Champlain. He built a trading post and called it Quebec. Champlain had a good relationship with the Huron Indians in the area. The success of the French fur trade depended greatly on this strong relationship with Native Americans.

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The Middle Atlantic Regions of the United States

Learn about the geography and economy of the Middle Atlantic colonies/states.

Objectives:


  1. Students will be able to name the states of the Middle Atlantic region.
  2. Students will be able to describe the geography of the Middle Atlantic region.
  3. Students will be able to describe the economy in the Middle Atlantic region.
  4. Students will be able to describe the development of a megalopolis in the Middle Atlantic region.

Suggested Grades:

4th Grade – 5th Grade – 6th Grade

Procedure:

  1. Read lesson or have students read it silently.
  2. Have students answer the questions on the worksheet.
  3. Discuss answers to questions.

Lesson Excerpt:

The Middle Atlantic region of the U.S. includes the states of New Jersey, Delaware, New York and Pennsylvania. The geography of the region is flat or gently rolling hills in Delaware and New Jersey, while Pennsylvania and New York contain stretches of the Appalachian Mountain range.

The hills between the Atlantic coast and the Appalachian Mountains are known as the Piedmont. Many rivers flow through the Piedmont on their way to the ocean. Because the rivers flow down from the hills to the coast, there are many rapids and waterfalls in between. The dividing line between the Piedmont and the Atlantic coast is known as the fall line. The geography of the Middle Atlantic States played an important role in the history of this part of the country.

When the Middle Atlantic States first became colonies, people used the rivers as highways to transport food, lumber and furs to places where the goods could be traded or sold. However, river boats could not get past the fall line. The falling water did have some benefits to the colonists, though. They were able to use its power to build water-powered mills to cut lumber and grind flour. Mills were built along the Hudson and Delaware Rivers and cities were soon established in these places as well.

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