Saturday, October 19, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Great State Race

This week I'm working on motivating my students to learn more about the regions of the United States! So, of course, I had to link up with Joanne from Head Over for Heels for Teaching for her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays and with Diane from Fifth in the Middle with some of my team's motivating geography techniques.

This week in Social Studies, I launched our next big study on the Regions of the United States. Our first stop is a train tour of the Northeast. This aligns with our text, Social Studies Alive! But we are not using the text's notes but instead are creating our own "interactive" suitcases for this unit. Students will be filling their suitcase with notes, maps, Kodak moments, and more as we travel throughout the Northeast. *The handouts are courtesy of Erin at I'm Lovin' Lit's editable pages in her Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks. I just modified them to work with our Social Studies text!

Here's my sample:
I do realize the Muse song title is wrong. It has since been corrected. The theme song for our Boston trip is Muse "Uprising."

Then, to get our students even more excited about our cross country trip, we also introduced our Great State Race Project this week. Each homeroom is asked to collect postcards from each of the 50 states. The first homeroom to collect a postcard from each state wins a special victory celebration! The students really get into competitive mode here and love seeking out the postcards. This project allows all students to get involved on some level and provides leadership opportunities to students who really want to track down those "remaining" postcards.

We hang a big USA map in the hallway and connect the postcards to the states. It's a BIG deal. Plus, they can also track each homerooms progress. 

Here's the letter I send home with my students. Click the image to download it from Dropbox.
The rules for the race are as follows:
- The postcard must be mailed from the state to count
- The postcard must contain one Social Studies fact about the state
- You may get multiple post cards from the same relative as long as the postcard is mailed from the state (example: Your grandparents go on vacation and mail you postcards from each state they visit)
- You can mail a postcard to yourself
- You can use any means necessary email, letters, phone calls, etc. to get postcards


Don't forget to check out all the great Student Motivation ideas on Head Over Heels for Teaching plus all the other Geography ideas at Fifth in the Middle!


  1. So motivating! I still remember the simulation project we did in 5th grade across the United States! You're creating memories Amanda! Thanks for sharing a wonderful idea and linking up!
    Head Over Heels For Teaching

  2. This would be so much fun! Too bad that they do the United States in fourth in my district :(



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