5 Tips for Teaching Regions of Virginia

Teaching Regions of Virginia

Hi, from Meghan at Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom! With this post, I am starting a series where I will share tips and strategies for teaching one of my favorite subjects: Virginia Studies! Let’s dive into this series by starting with the five regions of Virginia. Teaching regions of Virginia is fun for both teachers and students as there are many engaging, hands-on activities you can use.

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Create a Virginia Regions Map

One of the best ways to teach Virginia geography is through map making. Students can create maps of the five regions of Virginia using playdough or clay. They should use different colors for each region. They should also incorporate geographical features such as the rolling hills of the Piedmont region and the old, rounded mountains of the Blue Ridge Mountains region. After the dough dries, students can also add water features to their maps using a marker or blue glitter glue.

If you are thinking that buying playdough for your entire class is too expensive, you are right. One way I have solved this problem is by asking families to create playdough at home with inexpensive materials. At the beginning of the unit, I send home a letter asking families to help. The letter also includes the instructions for how to make the playdough and the date the playdough is needed back at school. This is a fun activity for families to complete at home that also incorporates math skills such as measurement and fractions. 

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Take a Virtual Field Trip Through the Regions of Virginia

Many of our students have had few opportunities to venture outside of the cities or towns where they live. This can make it difficult for students to truly visualize what different places and geographical features look like. Luckily, there are resources you can use to take students on a virtual tour of Virginia. My students love the Virginia Trekkers videos. The Virginia Trekkers are short videos that take place at different sites throughout Virginia. What makes these videos even better is that they are all aligned with the Virginia Studies SOLs. When studying the regions of Virginia, I show my students videos that take place in each of the five regions. As students are watching, they take notes on the different geographical features they notice. At the end of the videos, students use their notes to have a discussion where they compare and contrast the different regions.

One of my favorite digital geographical tools is Google Earth. Google Earth is a free download that works great across all digital platforms. In addition to visiting historical sites with Google Earth, students can also travel across the entire state of Virginia. I set up Google Earth so that students can see it with an eye-level view. Then, we move across the state from east to west. By moving across the state using the eye-level view, students are able to see how Virginia’s terrain changes.

Create a Virginia Geography Scrapbook

Even if a student has not had the opportunity to venture too far from the city or town where they live, they have still had the opportunity to see and explore one Virginia region. Remind students to take the time to study and celebrate the region where they live by creating a scrapbook. Have students create a scrapbook of their region with pictures or drawings of the land and water features that can be found near their home. Students should also include a description of the products and industries they have noticed in their town.

Use Music to Master Virginia's Products and Industries

When it comes to studying the regions of Virginia, my students have always found memorizing the products and industries to be the most challenging part. One year, I decided to write a song about the products and industries to the melody of a Maroon 5 song, which was my students’ favorite band. After introducing the students to the song, most had mastered the products and industries in about two days. During testing, I even heard one student quietly humming the song to himself.

If you are the type of person who does not enjoy writing songs or if you do not have the time to write one, the students can do it for you. Have students work in small groups. Challenge each student to write a song or a rap about Virginia’s products and industries. You can give students the option to write their songs to a popular melody or create their own melody. If time allows, you can even have students perform their songs and raps for families in a Virginia Studies talent show.

Create a Marketing Campaign for Virginia

I always like to end a Virginia Studies unit with a project. For the regions of Virginia unit, I assign students to teams. Each team must create a marketing campaign that promotes tourism in Virginia. As part of their marketing campaign, each team must create a brochure and a 30 to 60-second video that highlights the five regions of Virginia. Often, this project takes several days to complete. When students have finished, I allow each group to present a marketing pitch to the class. During their marketing pitches, each team shares what they created and explains why Virginia should adopt their marketing campaign. After each group has presented, students vote for which marketing campaign they think should win.

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These are just a few of the activities I use when teaching regions of Virginia. If you are struggling to find the time to plan out your Virginia Studies unit, make sure to check out my Virginia Regions Unit and my Virginia Studies Unit Bundle. All of the activities listed here and much more can be found in these resources! 

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And, if you are interested in more teaching tips aligned with the SOLs, make sure to sign up for my newsletter. When you do, you will be given a free guide that shows how to effectively implement technology in the classroom! I look forward to sharing more Virginia Studies tips and strategies next month!

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