U.S American Symbols = FUN TIMES!

I soooooooo love the summer!  Don’t you?  Even though I am off, I still cannot sleep in…even though I want to!  I’m still up at the crack of dawn!  Oh well….what are you going to do!
So since I am awake, I wanted to share with you how I taught U.S. Symbols this year in my classroom.  In May, during the school year, we had to teach our unit on American Symbols during our Social Studies block.  I have been pretty bored teaching this unit in the past so I knew it was time to spice things up with a new unit…
In came….U.S. Symbols and Tourist Attractions with The Traveling Tourists!

I actually couldn’t wait to get this unit in full swing and it was exactly what I was hoping it would be….FUN, INTERACTIVE, MOTIVATING…and EDUCATIONAL! 
So the basic premise of this unit was for my students to learn about all of the U.S. Symbols and important landmarks in North America..and have fun doing it!  So I created Travel Brochures for each American symbol and landmark that I wanted them to learn about.  Each brochure has a picture of the U.S. symbol or landmark and a paragraph or two of information about it.  The front cover of the brochure says “Welcome to ____________” (wherever the symbol or landmark is) and it shows a map with an arrow pointing to where it is located on the map.  Here is an example of one of the Travel Brochures…

So here’s how it all went down 🙂  I organized my desks in groups of 5 and 6 (I and had an uneven number of students this year).  The children were told they were going to travel on DiGilio Airlines (that’s my name 🙂 to different destinations in North America.  At each stop in their travels, the must stamp their passport and write the name of their destination.
I created these passports for each of my students.  If you look closely you can see a translucent symbol of an eagle and flag on the first page of the passport.  They look so authentic!
I started each group of children at a specific destination (we started with 4 destinations).  They stamped their passports and then read the Travel Brochures with a partner.  After they did a Partner Reading of the brochure, they had to orally share two facts they learned about the U.S. Symbol or Landmark.  Then they needed to write about it in a specific flip-flap book that would be adhered to their suitcase.   This whole unit took us about a week to finish.  We traveled for 3-4 days and then we did our opinion writing at the end.
This is the Washington Monument and the Lincoln Memorial Flip-Flap Book where they wrote 2 facts about each one.
Here is a little snapshot of the flip flap books inside the suitcase!
There are a total of nine destinations they visited and learned about.
Here is what their suitcase will look like when they have traveled to each of their destinations.
This is a completed Student Sample….
(Please excuse the horrible picture!!!  I took it with my iPhone and tried to clean it up a bit!  LOL)
Here is a better picture…LOL 🙂
I wish I could have taken pictures of my little ones as they traveled to the 9 different destinations, but I am not allowed to 🙁  But I have to tell you…they LOVED this activity.  When they came in to class the next few mornings they would say to me, “Where are we traveling today, Mrs. DiGilio?”   They are too precious!  I love when they excited about their learning.
After we finished all of our traveling, we wrote opinion writing pieces on The Most Important American Symbol OR The Most Interesting Tourist Attraction.  They wrote their reasons for their opinions on a graphic organizer and then wrote their paragraphs in cursive and they were attached to the other side of the suitcase. 
Here is a student sample…

This was BY FAR one of my favorite units to teach this year!  It was interactive and fun.  This activity really helped my students that need that movement throughout the day to stay focused and productive.  I was so impressed with how well they all did.
So I hope this gave you some ideas on teaching about American Symbols and Landmarks!
If you are interested in this unit, check it out in my TPT Store.
Click the picture below to get there!
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  • Leslie Hamlin
    July 14, 2013 at 1:51 pm

    Oh my!! That is sooo fun! I want to travel, too! Really such a cute idea and what a great way for kids to learn about American symbols. The suitcase with the brochures is clever! Love! I don't teach 2nd but I am sure I could adapt for my first graders!

    First Grade and Flip Flops

  • Teacher and Life Long Learner
    July 14, 2013 at 9:40 pm

    Creative and fun! I can see why it is one of your favorite units. Almost any grade level teacher could revamp this to meet his/her standards! THANK YOU!

  • susanlulu
    July 14, 2013 at 10:52 pm

    Sounds like so much fun!! I teach 2nd too. Thanks for sharing….
    [email protected]

  • Bobbi
    July 14, 2013 at 10:56 pm

    This is so cool — it is one of the kiddos' favorite units in 2nd grade to do, but I never thought about doing a passport: I might have to pick this up!

    I went to the Gateway Arch this summer and I kept on telling my hubby that my students would be freaking out if they knew I was here…probably not freaking out, but they would have thought it was cool! Haha!

    Bitty Bilinguals

  • Miss Foote
    July 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    This is one of my favorite units! And this summer I got made it to the Liberty Bell and the Statue of Liberty in person…even more excited to teach American Symbols this year!

    Chickadee Jubilee

  • efurth
    July 16, 2013 at 6:10 pm

    I started using it today with my second grade summer school students. They are so excited to fill their suitcases with all of the projects we will be doing. Of course they asked if we were going to each place for real!

  • stephf54
    July 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

    oh I love this, our curriculum is SO boring! I have it in my cart to present to my principal to buy for me!

  • Lady314
    August 5, 2013 at 5:59 pm

    Excellent example of what a little creativity and extra planning can do. Wonderful! I like this idea because it can be adapted to middle school and high school.