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Thanks to all who responded!  There are a lot of great ideas out there!
Here's my original post:
I just had a request from a 4th grade teacher (yahoo!) to do a research
project on states.  Does anyone have ideas on a final project?  I will
use a print resource and I also subscribe to "America the Beautiful" from
Grolier. I'd like to have some "gimmicky" kind of intro and have that
tied into the final project.  Maybe something that is more interesting
than just a written report?  I'd appreciate your ideas!  Thanks:)

Some ideas were repeated so I tried to copy them only once.  Here are the

Our 5th grade does a state report.    For the final project, they create a
"float" which must feature things they learned about the state - state
flower, state bird, industry, natural resources, etc.    Then they have a
parade through the hallways of the school, and all the other students line
up in the hall to watch.   We play patriotic music over the intercom
during the parade.
 A cute idea we have done before is a picture postcard(s) from the
state.  Students research to come up with facts about the state, then
write creative postcards home and include this info.....such as...."Today
we visited Dover, the state capital of Delaware.  Did you know they have
the blue hen as their state bird?"   You and the teacher could decide how
many facts need to be included in each message.  OUr students designed 3
different postcards in PowerPoint, but they could have been easily
written and illustrated on card stock.  Hope this description makes
How about having them create a brochure to attract tourists to their
state?  Of perhaps they could do a large wall chart that had the state
name and then categories, such as nickname, flag, flower, etc that
students could attach for their state.
I attended a conference where one of the presenters shared a project
that I would like to attempt.  The title was "North Carolina A-Z"  She
assigned the students a letter of the alphabet and a list of suggested
topics for each letter.  The students researched their assigned topics
and created a PowerPoint presentation for their letter.  The slides
were printed and placed in a collective class book.  The students were
video taped sharing their page.  I'm sure there must also be a way to
merge the slides into one presentation also.  I was thinking of trying
this with my 4th grade students since their focus is on North Carolina.
  I was also thinking of sharing this information with 5th grade since
their focus is on the USA (and North and South America).
For an intro, Ray Charles wrote a song that teaches all of the states. I
did a search for it last year for a teacher.  Don't have the info here at
home, but I found it with a google search
There is a song (check with your music teacher) called “Fifty Nifty
United States.” That can be the intro. Give the students a suggested list
of facts to find out about each state. Generic stuff like: Shape of the
state, when formed, famous sites, govnor’s name, major crops, major
industry, claim to fame, famous residents, etc. Show the students how to
make a mobile and have them create one with their state info they have
I have done this with my third and fourth graders for a couple of years
and they really enjoyed it. I do a "vacation destination" with the idea
that research is done outside of the classroom as well. Students picked a
state to research that they would like to visit. I get quite a range of
states as some kids have moved or have family in a number of places. I
don't allow duplicate states, but that would be up to you. Final projects
have ranged from travel brochures and video or print advertisements to a
simple fill in the blank "t-shirt" for lower level students.( "I went to
___ and all I brought back was this t-shirt. If you go be sure to
see ..." on a large t-shirt shaped cutout) Postcards are another idea-
they write a letter on one side and draw a picture on the other-
Hope this helps!
One of our 5th grade teachers has his students find information about
all of the states (2 per student).  Then, they draw their states using a
transparency and overhead projector.  They put information on their
states by drawing pictures -- no words.  It's a very colorful and
informational map.
State research is a great time to teach how to use the almanac.  You
really can't beat the almanac for information about states.
Our school does the state research project at the end of the school
year and the kids love it!! They look forward to it all year!!  We
have several activities ....

1)  Students make travel brochures for their state ..... they are
done in their classroom and the teachers provide a "template"

2) The students make a state "float" for the "state fair" ..... this
is made at home .. a decorated shoe box or whatever .... fits on a
student desk top ... sometimes with an accompanying poster. Students
dress in something to represent their state and sometimes bring food
(such as peanuts from Georgia, taco chips for New Mexico, Potato
chips for Idaho ..... etc).  I think the dress up and food is is not
required .....  but encouraged ..... Guide lines are provided by the
classroom teachers. Parents are invited as are other grade levels.
We have walls that open between classrooms and they are opened ....
all desks are pushed to the perimiter of the classrooms and the
hallway out side is also utilized. (We have 4 sections of 4th grade)
Other schools use the gym or multipurpose room. Students man their
"float" and tell visitors about their state.

3)  I help them make a KidPix page (in the computer lab) for a slide
show which we record on video several tapes.  We have it running
continually on several TVs in the hallway (record the slide show
several times on the tape so that it will just keep running) ....

With these projects the kids can show what they have learned about
their states and don't have write a report .... they are really
engaged in their learning and even the students who have difficulty
writing reports can show what they have learned.  It is a high point
of 4th grade cuz it is fun!!!
When I lived in Iowa, my fourth grade students did a state project.  They
did the research in the library and then put together a Hyper Studio
stack about their state.  They learned the Nifty Fifty song (it might be
Fifty Nifty) in music class.  We recorded it and they all attached that
to their stack.  We had a parent open house of sorts for the students to
show off their work.  It was a great combination of skills and
integration of curriculum.  You could do a similar project with Power
Point, or they could make a video, or a printed brochure.
I am currently an MLIS student at the University of Rhode Island in the
last stages of the School Media program.  For our final project, my
partner and I are working on five lessons plans for a unit for fourth
graders.  We are having the students produce a state travel brochure on a
state of their choice.  (hand made brochure with text and pictures - can
also be done on the computer using a brochure template)  We will be
following the Big6 method to teach research and information literacy

We are kicking off the unit with a book, called "The Scramble States of
America" by Laurie Keller (humerous story that will expose students to
the unique characteristics of the states and regions) and shared inquiry

I know there are lots of other lesson plans out on the Web that deal with
this same topic.  Try keywords, lesson plans fourth grade states or
social studies or geography.
I did the same project last year and I received lots of good ideas from
LM_NETters.The one I did after making a graphic organizer and asking
various questions about their state.  Each student took a paperbag and
made a "backpack" presentation with their state symbols, a map, and
several items of their choice inside that represented something from the
state.  It was a great success.
State tourism brochures...have them include important features, state
symbols, a brief history, local plant and wildlife, etc.

Also, you could create a US map made of states cut up from butcher
paper and have them create designs on the fronts that depict their
states and then attach reports--piece them together for an interesting
map of US to display on a wall...
My students in 4th grade study countries and in 3rd grade they study
states.  They team up (cooperation) by table to select their
geographical place.  Each week I introduce a new resource to search and
cite(reference materials).  The process takes from Halloween to Mid
January due to assemblies, band and chorus practice.
Each team always presensts an oral report on their place at the end of
the project with student created props.  The written component varies
but this year each team is creating a basic scrapbook of the trip,
inside the scrapbook is the information in postcard format detailing
what they saw, ate, and did while on this trip.  The students enjoy it
and those students who do not get to go away have a chance to plan a
dream trip. The team aspect is helpful for both the struggling reader
and the students lacking organizational skills.  Sure voices are excited
and there are problems, but it might be the time of year . Last year I
had one group present it in newscast format and another in song.
As a former fifth grade teacher who assigned state reports, and as a
former library media specialist who helped students find their resources,
I would suggest a project where students must help their mothers make a
critical family decision:  scenario: your mother has been offered new
jobs in two different states. Each job pays the same, and it is the
student's task to research each state, compare features (recreation,
weather, economy, natural products, historical sites, etc.) and then
write a letter to her/his mother stating the reasons based upon fact why
she should choose one state over the other.  The Grolier's Online Lands
and Peoples has the Culture Cross which allows students to compare two
states.  The beauty of this type of assignment is that it really makes
copy and paste difficult!
In pre-search, I have my kids identify characteristics of a place they
would most like to live: seasonal change, near a beach, in the mts. ,
near major league sports teams, what ever.  They list 5.  Then they
have to browse the state books and identify one or more states that
meets their criteria.  They pick a state and write a passage explaining
why that state is where they would like to live providing data to
justify their choice in terms of the criteria they identified
initially.  If they said variable seasons then must use climate data to
justify the state meeting that criteria.  If they say near the mts. or
shore they have to provide data as to mt. ranges in the state of what
body of water it is near.  This avoids the typical regurgitated (copy
and paste) report and gives kids ownership.  You could require a
section on state symbols, important people, history whatever as well
depending on how much time being given to the project.

Another approach was to have students research a state to compare to
their own state.  We used topics such as: geography, history,
attractions, famous people.  Focus was on identifying similarities and
When my own children were in 4th grade one teacher did the
report thing then each student had to design a shoe box
that was called a float.  Then when the reports were given
and finished they paraded their floats to another 4th
grade class.  The floats had to depict different things of
information/interest about the state.  My daughter had
Nevada so we found a small slot machine, pieces of rock
sprayed gold, a page from Mark's Twain's biography and
life in Nevada. That was one project that as a young adult she still
I will attempt to attach my materials that I use. The regions form is
filled out using atlas and kids almanac. The states form is used with the
same print materials, Grolier online and the other list of web resources.
After the research they create their PowerPoint. My grabber is, "Since
9/11 the tourist industry is hurting. You need to create an electronic
brochure that will bring tourists to your state."
When the 5th grade teachers in a school I was at did a similar research
project, the kids created travel brochures and for a final project
created a
display board. The students also wrote letters to the tourism bureau in
state and acquired information in that way as wellWhen the 5th grade
teachers in a school I was at did a similar research project, the kids
created travel brochures and for a final project created a display board.
The students also wrote letters to the tourism bureau in each state and
acquired information in that way as well
Teach your kids the state song from Animaniacs! There's also a great
audio tape that goes along with the A is for America book; has some very
cute songs about the US.
what about a travel brochure for each state, or trip log as if the student
had traveled to the state.  A presentation board on why their state is the
greatest state?  If could be fun to introduce the whole idea with the
Scramble States of America book since they all travel to a different place
in the book.
Last year, our 4th grade students used technology to produce their
report.  They used PowerPoint and created a state presentation that was
pretty awesome!  Not only did they learn about the U.S., they learned
about using computer software programs too.
The fabuloso picture book The Train of States
by Peter Sis  would be a fun intro.

Susan Hanlon
K-4 Librarian
Northwestern Elementary
New Tripoli, PA

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