Thursday, March 22, 2012

3rd Grade Geography

We just finished our geography unit and I am so thrilled to be done. If you know me, you know that I am a strong believer in project based learning. I like to tie all of the assessed standards into one strong unit if at all possible. Some units are easier to do than others. I also am not a big fan of worksheets or a lot of prep...ha ha ha! So, here is a fun unit that covers almost all of Oregon's new SS(Geography) standards for third grade.
The first thing I did was assembled the books. They have 9 pieces of white 12x18 construction paper with a black piece as the cover. They are folded in the center and I used the long arm stapler to secure. In the past I have used the binding combs, but believe it or not the stapled books stay intact better.
The Cover-I found a fun oval shaped map that has all the continents on it and had the kids water color paint. This was a great way to introduce the unit in the fun way.
The next step was to create the learning targets. I wanted my students to know what they would be learning, and this learning target page doubles as a table of contents. The opposite page is just a pocket for the mini-projects that they will collect throughout the unit.

The next two pages are about the seven continents. The students are expected to locate them on a map. In this project they were to recite 3 facts and draw a picture that reminded them of the continent. The expectation was for them to color the background or create a border.
The next two pages are about the 4 oceans. I had them write 2 facts and draw a picture that represents the ocean's use.

I don't have a picture of the next pages(6&7), but one of them has a picture of a globe showing the Northern and Southern hemispheres. The other page has another shot of a globe showing the Eastern and Western hemispheres. Each page describes the equator or the prime meridian.

Pages 8 and 9 are a big centerfold map. The expectation was that each continent was colored and labeled. I decided that the page was still a little bare, so I had them define ocean, continent, equator and prime meridian. As well as label each hemisphere. The labeling practice was good for them and the defining is my version of a glossary.

Page 10 is divided into 3 equal sections. In each section they define the term and draw an example. The three map terms I need then to know are compass rose, map key and map scales.

Page 11 is a page that shows what natural resources are, and it shows what natural resources we have in Oregon. This was by far the kids favorite. I let them go crazy with it and they had so much fun and were so creative finding ways to get all of the major resources into one piece of art.

Pages 12 and 13 address our newest standard. The students need to be introduced to the local Native American Indian tribes. This one is a little tough to teach because there is not a lot of information on"local" tribes. Luckily we only have to introduce the tribes. I made an input chart with the information I could locate. I was able to find the location, population, and a local tribal ran business.

Pages 14 and 15 were my favorite pages to teach. They were about the local landforms in the Pacific Northwest. This is a new standard that used to be 4th grade. The kids love learning about these landforms and have a lot of background knowledge already. The expectation was for them to draw the land form, define it and then write/draw a "LOCAL" example. Scholastic has a great supplemental book for landforms, so the prep and research was minimal.

Pages 16 was a handwritten reflection from each student about what they learned and what they enjoyed most about the project.

The back cover was another pocket to store other projects. I used it to put the grading rubric in as well. I know this is the kind of project that parents hang on to for a long time.

Please feel free to email me if you have any questions!


Laura said...

I love your projects instead of worksheets. Great lessons!

Nicole Heinlein said...

This looks like an amazing unit! Wish I was still teaching 3rd grade!!
Teaching With Style

Unknown said...

I love this and plan to use it. Thanks for your creativity and making S.S. fun! Do you have any great ideas for government and economics?

Unknown said...
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Michelle said...

I have been searching for ideas for Government and haven't had much luck. I found some fun stuff on elections. I love never ending books like this, makes assessing so much easier. Thanks for your comments.

Kori said...

This is wonderful! Thanks for sharing.
What resources did you use to find the information for each continent/ocean/etc.

Michelle said...

I used online resources for the continent and ocean information. There is a ton of it out there. The hardest part was finding the Native American information. We only get 20-30 minutes for content each day so I taught one ocean or continent a day, it took awhile, but that was good so the kids could work not this "never-ending" project during daily five time daily. Thanks for visiting!

Lauren said...

This project is perfect for any third grade classroom in Oregon! Thank you so much for sharing!! Any chance you would be willing to share the rubric you made for this project? Also, did you have some kind of a checklist for students to follow to make sure they had all of the components?

Michelle said...

Lauren, I will send you everything I have. What's your email address?

Lauren said...

Thank you SOOOO much!! My email is:

Lane Kersey said...

I would love a copy too if it is still available.

Lane Kersey said...
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Lauren said...

HI Michelle,

I'm sure you have been crazy busy as the end of the school year is approaching! I was wondering if you had sent me that email with everything you said that you had? I just wanted to make sure I didn't accidentally delete it or anything :-) Thanks again!!

Michelle said...

Oops. Lauren, I haven't sent it. All my files are on my work computer. I will email you when I get back to work. :) If something doesn't come through, email me at and I will try that way. Thanks for following up.

Hutch Bunny said...

Hi Michelle,
What a great post! I teach 3rd grade in California. I am really impressed by your student's work--the detail is wonderful! I can tell they take pride in it!

I'm wondering if you can share all your resources from above with me? I would greatly appreciate it!


10&3isLORD said...

Hi Michelle:

It is great for 3rd graders. I also wonder if you can share all your resources from above with me? Greatly appreciated...

My email is

Michelle said...

Meg-Thank you. I will send everything I have to you. Have a great summer!

Cas-Thank you! Resources will be sent shortly.

Jamie Harbin said...

This is a great idea! I would love to use this with my 3rd graders the first 9 weeks of school. Could you please email me all of your resources?

My email is


Sue said...

I'm a homeschool mom with a 3rd grader...this is amazing and would love if you could email your resources. Thanks in advance!!

My email is

: )

Ms. Ferretti said...

I would love to use these resources for my map unit in my 3rd grade class. I love it and it would deinitely help reduce worksheets.
Thank you!

My e-mail is

Lindsay White said...

We are beginning our unit on geography; I would love an email of your resources if you have the time to send it! My email is Thank you!


kteach said...


I am a third grade teacher in N.Y. We start off our year with geography. I love this project. Do you teach about each continent during whole class instruction? Can you please email me your resources?

Andrea Crabtree said...

I am a third grade teacher and get so tired of worksheets. Would you please send me any resources you have for this project? Thanks!!! I can't wait to start this!


Ms. Ferretti said...

Your geography unit is wonderful. I had asked for it earlier, and I know you are swamped, but I would love to get a copy. We are doing geography right now in my 3rd grade class.
My e-mail is

Anne Post said...

Great job-I love it! I'm up in Bellingham, WA and would love to see your unit-if you have time:)
thanks so much!

Elizabeth said...

Excellent project! I already have my 9-page, black cover books made! If you could please email me with your resources, that would be so helpful. Thank you!
~ Liz

Whitney Beck said...

I'd love some resources too!

Jin said...

Hi Michelle! I love your project and would love to do the same thing. I am a long term sub in Maryland getting ready to teach a unit on geography and mapping. I would appreciate some resources since I was not left any for this unit. Thank you!

mrml said...

Can I get in on your resources also? This is beautiful!

Davinie Fiero said...

I'd love more info as well. - I can get you information on Warm Springs - I teach 3rd grade in Madras. Thank you!

C White said...

I would love to see any rubrics or material you used if you are still sharing with others. Thanks!

Kerry Thomas said...

This is great work! You should really be selling this on TPT! I would pay for these resources! Seriously! PLease send them to me at or if you decide to place them onTPT please send me the link! Thanks

Carla Liversedge said...

Would you mind posting the rubric you used? I love this project!

MacDonald Family said...

I would love a copy of whatever you are sending the other too:) I love that the project is all one piece!

Grade Four Saskatchewan Unit said...

I love this idea! If you can send any resources or assessments you did for this unit please send them to me! I am working on this unit right now! Thanks again!

MacDonald Family said...

I would love info on warm springs!!!


Chelsey Wimmer said...

Hi Michelle, could you please send me all of the information for this geography project. I am new to teaching third grade in Oregon and this looks like an amazing project the kids would love!

Ebers Michelle said...

What an amazing resource. Could I get a copy of any resources and assessments you have. Thank my email address is Thanks again

Melissa Cordero said...

Where can i get this lesson? I love this!!

janelcook said...

I am teaching 3rd grade geography for our homeschool co-op. This is a fantastic unit and you did an amazing job! Is there any way you could also send this to me? I would truly appreciate it! Thanks so much for all of your hard work and for sharing.

Michelle said...

Thank you all for your comments. I have just sent lots of attachments to all of you who left me an email address. If you didn't get it, please let me know and I will resend. There were a couple of comments without email, so if you are reading this, please leave me an email and I will get you my resources. I am excited that you visited my blog, and even more excited that you liked my unit.

vmgreenlaw said...

Hi Michelle, I teach 3rd grade as well and can I say... I LOVE your blog!!! I am beginning my unit on geography and would be so grateful if you could send me this amazing project unit of ideas too! I hope it's not too much of a bother.

Alicia Norling said...

Hi Michelle!
I am a third grade teacher working on a similar geography unit. Would you please send me a copy. This is a wonderful unit and I think my students would really enjoy doing it.

Thank you,

Mrs. Casper said...

Love your blog..really like your geography unit also. I am third grade teacher in Wisconsin and I love this project. Please e-mail me resources you have that you can share. Thanks so much

Mrs. Casper said...

From above...forgot my address:

Sera Deo said...

Hi Michelle:
I am a 3rd grade teacher in NY and would love to see your materials so I can try to modify and make them work for my students.
I already have the journals made and we've designed the cover. They're very excited!
My email is:
Thanks so much!
Sera Deo

KMN said...

Hi Michelle, I love this! Would you be able to send me the details?
I teach in Milwaukie near your hometown of Oregon City!

Patricia said...

Hello Michelle,
I am a student teacher and am currently designing a geography lesson for my 3rd class and would love to look over your resourses. Thank you in advance

Jan Osterndorf said...

Hi Michelle,
Happy New Year! I would also love all the goodies you can send my way. I'm eager to try this after 27 years in the third grade classroom.

Sara V. said...

Hi Michelle! I have been teaching third grade for a while and have been looking for a way to spice up my unit. I love the ideas that you posted! If possible, I would appreciate any resources you could send my way! Thanks so much!

cmwatts said...

Hi Michelle! I love your work. I also teach third grade and we are working on our geography unit. Would you be able to share any of your resources? Thank you for any that you might be able to share with me.

Jillian said...

Hi Michelle,
I have an open house coming and I love projects like this. Are you sending info to teachers on this? If so I'd love it as well!

Jillian said...


Raul Morales said...

Hi Michelle,
I loved your project. Can you share it with one more 3rd grade teacher from Texas?


Raul Morales said...

Hi Michelle,
I loved your project. Can you share it with one more 3rd grade teacher from Texas?


Missy M. said...

Hi Michelle!

I work with 3rd graders in Florida. Could I please get a copy of this project?


Deborah Knight said...

Hi Michelle,

I emailed you a little while ago for a copy of the geography project lesson, but I don't believe I received it. May I please have a copy of your lesson plans, I'm a 3rd grade teacher in Florida.


special ed said...

This looks great! I think my special education students would love this as well. I would also love a copy of your resources. Thanks!!

Kelly Rodriguez said...

Hi Michelle,

This is an amazing project idea! I'm a first year teacher, and I plan on using this with my class this fall! I would love if you could send me the resources you have. My email is

Thank you,

Drew Hauss said...

Hi Michelle,
I love the geography project. It is the first unit I teach when we return in September. I see that you have been busy sharing it with teachers all over the country. If you don't mind can you share it with this teacher in Virginia.

Danielle said...

This is fantastic! Really, you have a talent for teaching! I teach 3rd grade in Arizona and this is a great fit for our geography unit. Could you please send me your resources? My email is

You rock!

susan reich said...

how long did you spend on this project? Love it!! I teach 3rd grade in CO :)

Theresa said...

Hi Michelle,

I love your geography unit. So creative and fun. Would you please be willing to share it with me? I teach 3rd in TN.

Kristin Hofkamp said...

I just transferred to 3rd grade and would love to incorporate your geography unit as a meaningful learning opportunity for my students. Would you be willing to share? I teach in South Dakota.

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