Pennsylvania Geography Main Lesson


I must say, it’s proven a lot more difficult to plan a main lesson for my fourth grader than for my second grader. Maybe because I know what a main lesson for a first/second grader looks like, but not so much a fourth grade one. I do have Oak Meadow’s fourth grade syllabus, as well as Melissa’ Little Garden Flower fourth grade syllabus.

We’ve been gearing up for this since this summer, when we visited Philadelphia on vacation. There I bought two books that have been helpful: The Pennsylvania Reader and Pennsylvania from the Hello USA! series. We also found another book on sale at Borders: K Is for Keystone.

We’ve also already read The Cabin Faced West by Jean Fritz as a read-aloud. Now Michael is reading Miracles on Maple Hill independently. I’ve looked at some other PA-based books–The Light in the Forest and I Am Regina— but I am concerned that they may not present Native Americans in a fair light. I’m also concerned they may be too “heavy” for Michael. One problem with a kid reading years above his grade level is finding books that are challenging enough, but still have appropriate content. Then again, Michael continually amazes me with what he can handle, so I may be overthinking it.

Moving on…

We focused a lot on the idea of maps this week. It’s not a new concept. Both Michael and Katie Grace answer a question or two in their Daily Geography books each day. We looked at many different types of maps–topographical, political, maps of waterways, maps of railways, maps that show tourist and industry in PA. Most of the week was spent making and painting a salt dough map.

It actually looks kind of garish, but Michael chose the colors. The blue is the water. The red are the mountains.

I don’t have a whole lot of pictures. He’s going through a bit of an anti-main-lesson-book phase. I kind of get it. He’s got some spatial issues, and I think lined notebooks give him some guides. So, he choose a notebook for this lesson. He’s also in a sloppy work phase.

In his notebook, he labeled pages A through Z and has been adding things as he learns about them to create a Pennsylvania Alphabet. He’s been doing copywork from William Penn’s Some Fruits of Solitude, and he glued that into his book as well.

We talked a lot about Pennsylvania resources, tourism, and industries. Tomorrow we’re visiting an anthracite coal mine and museum.

Towards the end of the week, we started learning about PA’s flag, state tree, state flower, etc. He drew pictures and glued them in as well.

Some other components of the lesson included:
Grammar: We discussed the four types of sentences (declarative, exclamatory, interrogative, and imperative) and wrote PA-related sentences to illustrate each type.

Math: Calculadder, as well as reviewing division facts with online drill games.

Next week we’re going to focus on the Susquehanna river and Native American tribes in PA. We’ll also be reviewing long division, although I’m not quite sure how to work that in. I really want to try and figure out how to help Michael do neat and careful work– his best efforts, rather than sloppily trying to work through things as quickly as possible.

1 Comment

  1. //

    I think your mail lesson is very nice. I’ll have to remember the salt dough map and the a-z pages. Such a great idea.

    I’ve wondered a bit about Kayla and 4th grade next year. State history really is somthing that has to be tailored to each state as well as each child. I’m kind of dreading that main lesson block…..

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