Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit

Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit

Hi! Meghan from Vestal’s 21st Century Classroom here, and I’ve got more hands-on Virginia Studies activities you can use to make learning fun. So far, in this Virginia Studies series, I’ve shared engaging ways to teach Regions of Virginia through Reconstruction (you can find a complete list of Virginia Studies articles at the end of this post). Now, let’s explore ways to teach your Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit! Not only will students LOVE these activities, but these activities will also help prepare them for the SOL test at the end of the school year.

Examine Primary Sources

As we move closer to the present in Virginia history, there are more photographs and first-hand accounts available. Using first-hand accounts of events such as the Great Depression and women’s suffrage helps paint a more detailed picture of what life was like for Virginians in the 20th Century. I like to show my students images from the time period and have them write about what they think is happening in the images. Then, we discuss what is actually happening in the images, which also provides an opportunity to review inferencing skills.

Complete a Great Depression Simulation

This Great Depression Simulation is not only one of my students’ favorite activities during this Virginia Studies unit, but it is also one of their favorite Virginia Studies activities for the entire school year! With this dice game, students roll to find out what their salary will be. Then, throughout the activity, they face both positive and negative financial situations that Virginians experienced during the Great Depression. The goal of the activity is not to be evicted from their home before the end of the game. This simulation activity always helps my students better understand what life was like for Virginians during the Great Depression and why so many people were homeless. It is also a great way to integrate math skills into Virginia Studies.

Review Regions of Virginia

During the Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit, students examine how Virginia transitioned from a rural, agricultural society to a more urban, industrialized society. When introducing this strand, make sure to take time to review the regions of Virginia. You can do this by having students label where different industries such as coal mining and government jobs can be found on a map of Virginia. As students label their maps, be sure to discuss the characteristics of each region and why a certain industry might be found in that region.

Research Famous Virginians

The Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit is a great time to integrate ELA skills because there are so many Virginians that students are expected to identify. Use this as an opportunity to introduce your students to research projects by having them research a famous Virginian. Students can show what they discover in several different ways such as creating a Google Slide presentation, writing a five-paragraph essay, or creating a poster.
This famous Virginians matching game is a part of my Virginia in 20th Century and Beyond Unit.

Play Task Card Games

I love using task card games to review information because there are so many ways to use task cards. Task cards are also a great way to get students up and moving, especially at the end of the school year when it hard to keep kids focused. I have created 28 Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Task Cards with questions that resemble what students might see on an SOL test. Students especially love playing a Jeopardy game with these to review at the end of the unit.

Complete a Virginia Studies Escape Room

My students LOVE using classroom escape rooms to review Virginia Studies. With my Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Time Travel Escape Room, students pretend they are traveling back in time to explore Virginia’s history. In the process, their time machine malfunctions. The only way to fix the time machine and return to the present is by completing seven escape room challenges that help students review information from the unit. Challenges including assembling puzzles to review famous Virginians, decoding information about Virginia’s history, and using a map to identify regions of Virginia that saw growth during the twentieth century. As soon as we complete this Virginia Studies escape room, students are always begging to do another escape room.


If you are looking for fun, hands-on activities to get your students excited about your Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit, try incorporating some of the activities listed above into your classroom.  The activities described in this post can be replicated in your classroom, but I know planning time is limited. If you’re short on time, I’ve got you covered! My Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Unit and Virginia Studies Bundle each have all of the activities listed here and LOTS more. My Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Task Cards and Virginia in the 20th Century and Beyond Escape Room can also help cut down on the amount of time it takes to plan review activities.
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As an educator, one of my biggest passions is finding ways to make history fun for teachers and students. Here on Virginia is for Teachers, I share many of my favorite tips and ideas for teaching Virginia Studies. Make sure to check my next month as I plan to share the best ways for teaching your final Virginia Studies Unit, Virginia Geography, Government, and Economy.

Other Posts in this Virginia Studies Series:

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