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ALEX Lesson Plans


Subject: Social Studies (3)
Title: Where on Earth Am I?
Description: Geocaching, a high tech treasure hunt, is a fun and educational way to teach latitude and longitude.   Students will learn about those imaginary lines and find their place on our planet. This is a College- and Career-Ready Standards showcase lesson plan.


Subject: English Language Arts (3), or Social Studies (2 - 3), or Technology Education (3 - 5)
Title: Exploring the world with P.W. Cracker!
Description: This lesson can be completed in a whole group or small group setting. After reading the book “P.W. Cracker Sees the World,” the students will complete an inquiry project that connects social studies/geography to what they read in their story.


Subject: English Language Arts (2), or Social Studies (1 - 3), or Technology Education (K - 2)
Title: Jet, Set, Go! Travel Google Earth in Ben's Dream
Description: This lesson uses the picture book by Chris Van Allsburg Ben’s Dream with Google Earth to highlight ten major landmarks of the world. After reading and discussing Ben’s Dream, students "travel" to each location using the free software Google Earth. Students will then be put into small groups by the teacher to research one specific landmark using the tools available on Google Earth (i.e., snapshots, Wikipedia links, etc.). Using their research skills, students locate these famous landmarks, conduct further research on them, and share that information with the class.


Subject: Science (6), or Social Studies (3 - 6)
Title: Where am I?
Description: This lesson teaches one of the geography themes called location. Students will learn about absolute location and relative location as they search the globe. This lesson plan is made possible through the ALEX and the U.S. National Park Service Partnership.


Subject: Arts Education (3), or Social Studies (3 - 5), or Technology Education (3 - 5)
Title: Topography of Fruit
Description: This is an attempt to help students understand contour lines in map-making through the vector of digital photography.  This hands-on activity will create an art piece out of fruit that will be analyzed to create topographic maps.


Subject: Social Studies (3), or Technology Education (3 - 5)
Title: The Equator and the Poles
Description: This lesson provides hands-on activities that will teach students about the poles and the equator. Students will be labeling a globe, recreating a globe within the classroom, and researching information on the Internet.


Subject: Science (3 - 4), or Social Studies (3), or Technology Education (3 - 5)
Title: Antarctic Adventures!
Description: This month-long ongoing lesson will give the students opportunities to learn more about Antarctica. They will investigate and research specific information and use it to create a notebook and an information table.


Subject: Mathematics (5), or Social Studies (3 - 4)
Title: Plotting Points in Alabama
Description: The students will be able to use coordinates to find locations of specific cities on a map of Alabama.


Subject: Science (3), or Social Studies (3), or Technology Education (3 - 5)
Title: The Sun and the Earth
Description: The students will understand the relationship between the Earth and the sun and how this relationship affects observable phenomena on Earth, such as the seasons. The activity will help students learn about these concepts and will reinforce their understanding by having them diagram the position of the Earth in relation to the the sun during different seasons.


Thinkfinity Lesson Plans


Subject: Social Studies,Geography
Title: Neighborhood Navigator      Add Bookmark
Description: Use or create maps to explore your local area, along with discussion tips for kids and families. Part of an OurStory module entitled Full Steam to Freedom, this activity includes strategies for using online maps or making your own map of a trip and tips for making the most of those experiences through discussion and cooperative discovery. OurStory is designed to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through the use of children's literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: 1,2,3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - Human Relations
Title: Genealogical Atlases      Add Bookmark
Description: This Xpeditions lesson asks students to interview their parents or other relatives about what it was like where they grew up. Students use outline maps to create genealogical atlases that illustrate the places of their ancestry and the activities in which their relatives and ancestors participated when living there.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Cross-Disciplinary - Informal Education , Arts - History , Physical Education - Outdoor Education , Social Studies - Geography , Geography - Cartography , Geography - GIS , Geography - Human Geography , Geography - Physical Geography
Title: How Can You Be a Human Compass?      Add Bookmark
Description: Treasure hunts can be very exciting, but if you don't know how to read a map, you'll never uncover a crystal skull like Garrett. If you were lucky enough to find a long-lost treasure map, would you be able to locate the hidden prize?
Thinkfinity Partner: Wonderopolis
Grade Span: K,PreK,1,2,3,4,5



Subject: Science - Earth science - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Living Through a Drought       Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students practice map-reading skills. Using a drought map of Afghanistan, students learn how to recognize drought, where drought can occur, and how drought affects the people who live in those places.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - State History
Title: Make State Maps With MapMachine      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students compare and contrast their state with another one using observations they make from National Geographic's MapMachine. They look at their own state's maps as the teacher creates them for the class, and they then make their own maps of another state of their choice. They list their observations of the two states maps and then write paragraphs comparing and contrasting what they have seen.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Which Direction Should I Go?      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students review and practice their knowledge of compass directions. They do several brief exercises to practice using directions in their community and on maps, and they conclude by creating a treasure hunt for other students to take.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies
Title: The Water Nearby      Add Bookmark
Description: Do you live near the water? There is probably a body of water closer than you think! In this activity, students will use Google Maps to first find their school, and then locate and learn about the closest body of water to their school. Included in an OurStory module from the Smithsonian's National Museum of American History entitled Life on the Water, this activity is intended to help children and adults enjoy exploring history together through the use of children's literature, everyday objects, and hands-on activities. National Museum of American History
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4



Subject: Cross-Disciplinary - History , Cross-Disciplinary - Informal Education , Mathematics - Applied Mathematics , Mathematics - Measurement , Science - Astronomy , Science - Earth science , Science - General Science , Social Studies - Geography , Informal Education - Academic Enrichment , Informal Education - Environmental Education
Title: Can You See the Equator?      Add Bookmark
Description: Join us in Wonderopolis today for a trip around the globe!
Thinkfinity Partner: Wonderopolis
Grade Span: K,PreK,1,2,3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Digital History      Add Bookmark
Description: This website is a comprehensive set of web based resources and activities suitable for students at every grade level. Produced through a collaborative partnership including the National Park Service, the University of Houston, The Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, and the Chicago Historical Society, t he site features a digital textbook with hypertext links, virtual exhibits featuring letters, artwork and artifacts, an interactive timeline, a collection of e-lectures, inquiry based learning units, and an extensive collection of online resources like maps, charts, and primary sources.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Geography,Social Studies
Title: Important Places      Add Bookmark
Description: Activity. Students navigate a map of a local mall, find the places there that are most important to them, and discuss what places are important to other people.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Toot and Puddle: Exploring New Places      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions student activity, students plan a trip in which they explore a new place. They first figure out where they want to go, how to get there and what to pack. They then decide what they d like to do once they arrive.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Crack the Code      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions student activity, students use a map to plot geographic coordinates given on a list. The goal is to use the first letter of each city plotted to spell the name of another city.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Cross-Disciplinary,Geography,Social Studies
Title: Real-World Geography: Dr. Malcolm Rohrbough      Add Bookmark
Description: Profile of historian Malcolm J
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: C1,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Science - Earth science - Science - Meteorology - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Twister! What to Do in a Tornado      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students learn that tornadoes can happen anywhere and at any time. Students read about the basics of tornado safety. They also learn about the signs that a tornado might be coming and what they should do if they ever experience a tornado firsthand. They then create safety brochures to share with their friends and families.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Arts - Photography - Science - Biological and Life Sciences - Science - Ecology - Science - Oceanography - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Using Photography to Help Save the Oceans      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students learn about the importance of ocean conservation. They think about how photography can help humans understand the impact they are having on the oceans by looking at the photography of David Doubilet. They look at animals that are endangered because of human behavior and choose one to study in depth. Finally, students draw the animal they chose and describe why it is in peril and how it can be protected.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Tell a Migration Story...with Maps      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions student activity, students share information about migration in their communities by planning and creating migration maps. After learning about mental maps and mapmaking in general, they create their own maps to illustrate how migration has helped to shape their local areas.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - World History
Title: Expedition to the Poles      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students pretend they've just returned from a year in the Arctic or Antarctic. They look at Web sites about these regions and expeditions to them and create posters illustrating their experiences. They conclude by writing paragraphs explaining what it would be like to visit the polar region that they did not focus on in this lesson.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Geography,Social Studies
Title: Mapping Your State      Add Bookmark
Description: Activity. Students research political, physical, and cultural features of their own state or district and add them to a large class map.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies
Title: On the Road with Marco Polo: Crossing the Deserts of China      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, one of a multi-part unit from EDSITEment, students use Internet resources to learn about the Taklimakan Desert. They determine what was (and is) best way to travel from one end of the desert to the other and explore how some of the local inhabitants make a living.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science - Earth science - Science - Oceanography - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Wave Heights      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students learn about the varying heights of ocean waves and what causes the variation. They begin by learning the parts of a wave, and then discuss the meaning of wave height and wavelength in terms of various points of reference. A demonstration sparks discussion about how geography affects wave heights, and allows students to experiment with various forces to create different sized waves. Students use the National Geographic Wave Simulator to experiment with creating different types of waves, and draw waves based on the heights and lengths of familiar structures around the school.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Locator Booth: Mapping South America      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students visit the Locator Booth exhibit in National Geographic's Xpedition Hall and consider conditions to find places positions. Students see how human and physical factors define eight South American hot spots. Students learn new geographic terms and use context clues in their reading to decide which map has the information they need to complete an interactive activity.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Geography,Social Studies
Title: Major Languages of the Americas      Add Bookmark
Description: Activity. Students identify major languages spoken in the Americas, map them, and discuss the relationship between the distribution of languages and the colonial history of the countries.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science,Social Studies
Title: Kalahari: Where the Lion is King      Add Bookmark
Description: This student interactive, from an Xpeditions lesson, prompts students to answer questions as they read an article about the Kalahari Xeric Savanna. In the related lesson, students study the biota-or flora and fauna-of the Kalahari Desert, and the importance of the lion s role as predator within this ecosystem.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Cross-Disciplinary - History , Cross-Disciplinary - Informal Education , Social Studies - Civics , Social Studies - Comparative Political Systems , Social Studies - State History , Social Studies - United States Constitution , Social Studies - United States Government , Social Studies - United States History , Social Studies - World History , Informal Education - Academic Enrichment
Title: Where Is the Tallest Waterfall?      Add Bookmark
Description: The closest many of us come to a waterfall is our daily shower. The showerhead can't hold a candle to Mother Nature's beauty, though. Let's learn about waterfalls!
Thinkfinity Partner: Wonderopolis
Grade Span: K,PreK,1,2,3,4,5



Subject: Science - Meteorology - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Creative Climates      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions student activity, students pretend they are head of a new National Geographic Climate Observation Post, where they must create a climate map to illustrate the world's various climate zones. Students explore the world's diverse climate zones and find out how climate affects human life.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Family Trip Plan      Add Bookmark
Description: In this student interactive, from an Xpeditions lesson, students use a print press tool to create a brochure or booklet highlighting a three-week U.S. travel itinerary.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Design Your Own Suburb      Add Bookmark
Description: This lesson, from Xpeditions, asks students to think about their own perceptions of cities and suburbs and to consider the features that exist in a typical urban and suburban area. They also learn about sprawl and some of the problems associated with rapid suburban growth. They conclude by designing their own suburbs.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Mathematics - Applied Mathematics - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Geography of Pizza      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students analyze Earth's surface according to the spatial elements of points, lines, and areas, and use a simple map to identify features in terms of spatial elements. This lesson uses a pizza restaurant to introduce these components to students, e.g., the location of a restaurant (point), roads and sidewalks (lines), and the city blocks or the region served by a restaurant (area).
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Geography,Social Studies
Title: Geographic Groceries      Add Bookmark
Description: Activity. Students explore the regions of a grocery store to see which foods are grouped together and why.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Arts - Photography - Social Studies - Geography - Social Studies - Human Behavior
Title: Jimmy Chin's Adventure in Extreme Photography      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students explore how culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions. They explore the photography of National Geographic Emerging Explorer Jimmy Chin and discuss how adventure travel differs from regular tourism.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Geography,Science,Social Studies,Vocational Education
Title: agriculture      Add Bookmark
Description: Agriculture is the art and science of cultivating the soil, growing crops and raising livestock
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: C1,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Science - Earth science - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Be a Geography Detective      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students become geography detectives, learning about geography and the relationship human beings have with the land. Students apply the six essential elements of geography as they make observations and draw conclusions about historical landscapes. They demonstrate their understanding by writing journal entries, sketching landscapes, and making mental maps.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science - Earth science - Science - Ecology - Science - Meteorology - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Antarctica: A Cold Desert Ecosystem      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students construct a rough map of Antarctic ecosystems and explore relationships among the creatures that populate them. This lesson can be adapted to focus on other regions, including the one in which you live.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Anthropology - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Nomads: Where Boundaries Move      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students explore nomadic pastoralism. Focusing on Central Asia, students investigate the way humans have adapted to regions that do not sustain communities through agriculture and the influence this has both on how they live and on how they view the boundaries of their homes.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science, Social Studies
Title: Global Breakfast      Add Bookmark
Description: The purpose of this Science NetLinks lesson is to look for evidence of global interdependence in the foods that we eat. Students recognize the fact that many of the foods that they eat, and the ingredients that go into making them, are produced in other countries. They speculate about why certain foods are produced in different regions of the world, and what might happen if the production and/or distribution of these goods was to stop.
Thinkfinity Partner: Science NetLinks
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Social Studies - Geography
Title: Get Oriented      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions student activity, students explore the cardinal directions--north, south, east, and west. They then test their knowledge using the interactive '' '' Orientometer.'' ''
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Science - Biological and Life Sciences - Science - Botany - Social Studies - Geography
Title: The Arctic and Antarctic Circles      Add Bookmark
Description: In this student activity from Xpeditions, students research the ends of the Earth--the Poles--to compare and contrast the regions. Background information is provided, giving insight into the nature of these two areas and outlining their differences and similarities.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: America's Story      Add Bookmark
Description: This website, from the Library of Congress, was designed especially with young people in mind, but there are great stories and information for people of all ages. Through the use of short essays, biographies, interactive games and activities, students can explore every era of American history and learn interesting facts about all 50 states. This is a wonderful resource for any teacher of American history and geography.
Thinkfinity Partner: Smithsonian
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Social Studies
Title: Geo-friendly Travel in the United States      Add Bookmark
Description: This student interactive, from an Xpeditions lesson, guides students in creating a brochure encouraging geotourism in a state or region of the United States.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science - Earth science - Social Studies - Geography
Title: World Viewer      Add Bookmark
Description: This Xpedition Hall interactive allows visitors to view six different kinds of information in spatial terms, distributed on a world map. Click on the right circle in Room I to view this interactive.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: science, social studies
Title: Americas MapMaker Kit      Add Bookmark
Description: MapMaker Kit. Download, print, and assemble maps of North and South America in a variety of sizes.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Science - Earth science - Science - Physical Sciences - Social Studies - Geography
Title: Earthquakes and Volcanoes      Add Bookmark
Description: In this lesson, from Xpeditions, students compare maps of plate tectonics with population density maps and analyze what these maps imply about the relationship between population and seismic hazards. They also research specific volcanoes or earthquake zones and write pretend letters to residents of these areas describing the risks.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



Subject: Science,Social Studies,Geography
Title: National Geographic Education      Add Bookmark
Description: Cultural, educational, and informational resource for teaching geography, as well as world history.
Thinkfinity Partner: EDSITEment
Grade Span: K,1,2,3,4,5,6,7,8,9,10,11,12



Subject: Science - Biological and Life Sciences - Science - Oceanography - Social Studies - Geography
Title: The Water Column: Where Do Ocean Animals Belong?      Add Bookmark
Description: In this Xpeditions lesson, students learn about three broad ocean habitats--the intertidal zone, the open ocean, and the abyss--and find out about some specific adaptations animals have made in each of these regions. They conduct Internet research and list some of the things they notice about animal adaptations in the ocean. Students conclude by designing games to help other students match species and their adaptations to appropriate parts of the ocean.
Thinkfinity Partner: National Geographic Education
Grade Span: 3,4,5



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