Virginia Studies: A New Nation Activities

Virginia Studies: A New Nation Activities

Hi, I’m Meghan Vestal from Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom. Throughout this school year, I’ve been sharing some of my favorite tips, strategies, and activities to use when teaching Virginia Studies. So far, we covered everything from regions of Virginia to Virginia in the American Revolution (see the links at the bottom of this page to check out each Virginia Studies post). Now, I’m sharing some of the best activities for teaching Virginia Studies: A New Nation, also known as Virginia Studies SOL VS.6.
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Virginia Studies SOL VS.6 is all about Virginia’s role in the establishment of the United States and its government. Many of America’s leading Founding Fathers came from Virginia and its founding documents were inspired by state documents created in Virginia. With so much history right here in our state, there are LOTS of great things to investigate throughout a Virginia Studies: A New Nation unit!

Watch the Virginia Trekkers

If you are a Virginia Studies teacher, make sure you have the Virginia Trekkers website bookmarked! The Virginia Trekkers offer a variety of videos that teach Virginia social studies. Best of all, the videos are aligned with the Virginia Studies SOLs. And, as an extra bonus, each video starts with a fun song that helps students memorize Virginia’s regions. My students LOVE the Virginia Trekkers and even watch the videos at home just for fun.

I particularly like using the Virginia Trekkers throughout my Virginia Studies: A New Nation unit. I have my students take virtual field trips to places such as Mount Vernon (the home of George Washington) and Montpelier (the home of James Madison). These videos let students leave the classroom without actually stepping outside of the classroom by allowing students to virtually visit important Virginia sites. Not only do students get to see a picture of early American life, but they also get to see and hear information that is aligned to SOL VS.6. When taking their virtual field trips, I have students complete a guide so that they can record their observations.
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Research Virginia Leaders

Your Virginia Studies: A New Nation unit is a great time to start introducing fourth graders to research skills. Much of SOL VS.6 has to do Virginia’s early leaders and the contributions they made to American government. Why not have students select one of these leaders and complete a research project? Have your students create a book, poster, or slideshow presentation to go with their research. Then, have the students present their activities to the class. This is a fun way to integrate the ELA SOLs with Virginia Studies.
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I have students create a book about the Virginia leader that they research.

Memorize Important Documents

I believe it is important for students to memorize excerpts from the United States’ founding documents and be able to explain the meaning of those documents. The Preamble of the Constitution is something I expect all of my fourth grade students to memorize and be able to explain. There are many ways to help students learn these important lines. I like to play the School House Rock song “Preamble” regularly throughout my Virginia Studies: A New Nation unit. I also send home an activity that encourages students to practice the Preamble at home over the course of the unit.

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Create a Virginia Studies Lapbook

In addition to learning about the Founding Fathers and documents, SOL VS.6 also asks students to explain why Virginians began migrating to other states and territories in the early nineteenth century. To help students learn these reasons, I have them create a Virginia Studies lapbook. The lapbook includes a map of Virginia and has students list the reasons for Virginians migrating west and south.

Complete Virginia SOL Review Activities

No Virginia Studies unit is complete without some review activities to help students prepare for their unit test. For my Virginia Studies: A New Nation unit, I have two review activities. The first activity involves task cards. I have 24 task cards, each with a question that resembles a question they could see on the SOL test at the end of the year. To get students up and moving, I hide the cards around the room. Students have to find all the cards and respond to the questions on a response worksheet.
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The second review activity is my students’ favorite…. A Virginia Studies: A New Nation escape room! With this escape room activity, students pretend they are time travelers, going back in time to investigate Virginia’s role in the establishment of the new nation. As they are traveling back in time, their time machine malfunctions. The only way to fix the time machine and return home is to complete six challenges to review SOL VS.6. Challenges include things such as assembling puzzles to find codes, decoding excerpts from important documents, and unscrambling and matching information.
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Conclusion

So, there you have it. That’s five fun ways to engage your students as you teach Virginia Studies: A New Nation! There are so many ways to step outside of the textbook and get students excited about Virginia Studies. I hope you and your students both enjoy these classroom activities.

The activities described throughout this post can easily be replicated in your classroom. But, if you are short on time, I’ve got your covered! My Virginia Studies: A New Nation Unit and Virginia Studies Bundle each have the activities listed here and LOTS more. My A New Nation Task Cards and A New Nation Escape Room can also cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan your review activities.
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Pin for later.
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As a lover of American history, I am passionate about helping teachers find ways to make history fun. Here on Virginia is for Teachers, I share lots of Virginia Studies activities and tips. Make sure to check back next month. I plan to share strategies for teaching Virginia Studies SOL VS.7, the Civil War. Until then, be sure to check out these other Virginia Studies and hands-on history blog posts!

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