Little Log Cottage School

Teach Four Subjects At Once! ELA Social Studies & A Freebie

Before I jump into all of the activities of our Intro to Geography unit, I just want to share how excited I am to have a unit that addresses so many skills and is FUN!  The older a child gets, the more skills they are required to learn.  This is why April and I created a social studies curriculum that combines all of your language arts, reading, and writing standards.  Finally!  A social studies curriculum to provide intense learning through vocabulary, reading, writing, and grammar!


Intro to Geography Components

We’re starting out the year with geography in my 3rd and 5th grade classes.  There is So MUCH geography in 3rd grade social studies.  April and I are making sure we’re getting all of our standards covered in this social studies curriculum.  Unit studies are my favorite way to teach skills to all grade levels!  Here’s why:

  • They provide real world connections for kids
  • Keeps kids engaged through many different learning activities
  • Teacher is able to be creative by adapting lessons for each child
  • Can integrate multiple subjects at once
  • Kids have more choices in learning
  • Huge time saver for teachers

For Unit One, these are the standards we cover.

  •        3.2  Interpret maps and globes using common terms, including country, region, mountain, hemisphere, latitude, longitude, north pole, south pole, equator, time zones, elevation, approximate distances in miles, isthmus, and strait (Note: this unit only covers country, region, hemisphere, latitude, longitude, north and south pole, equator, and elevation.  Unit 2 will cover the rest.)

    3.5 Explain the difference between relative and absolute location.

    3.7 Explain how specific images contribute to and clarify geographical information

    diagrams, landforms, satellite photos, GPS system, maps, and charts).

    W.3 Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.

    3.2c Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.

    RI.3.7Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text

    RL3.3 Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Here is unit one broken down for you.

Component One: Vocabulary

Vocabulary is one of the five core components of a reading program.  It is vital for teachers to teach more vocabulary in their lessons.  As part of an effective vocabulary instruction, vocabulary  should be taught before reading material is introduced.  This is why we have vocabulary cards and definitions as the first component of every unit.  We use vocabulary mapping to enhance vocabulary learning.  Kids connect the new words to their background in order to remember the meaning.  The kids complete a map for each vocabulary word, and then alphabetize them in a three ring binder to create their very own dictionary!

We also have a fun map hunt for you!  This can be used as a center activity, individual activity, or an assessment.  Students are given a rhyme to figure out, then they label the answer on the map.

The vocabulary scoot game is another group, individual or assessment activity.  Place the cards around the room and then the students use the recording sheet and clipboard to run around solving the vocabulary problems.  This is a student favorite!

Match the vocabulary words to the definitions or a memory game can be played during this unit.  So many ways to practice these vocabulary words!

We also have a traditional vocabulary assessment to use either in place of the games, or to use as a final grade.

Component Two: Reading and Comprehension

One of the ways students build vocabulary is through reading.  After practicing vocabulary words in isolation, it’s time to integrate those words into context.  These stories satisfy both social studies and reading standards.  Because we’ll read a lot of atlases and maps for this unit, this lended itself well to identify text features.  We created out own anchor chart as we read through our suggested book list.

Then we completed our own individual text feature list.


Now that our vocabulary is fairly rooted, we begin reading stories about geography.  The kids use sticky notes to make observations and answer comprehension questions.  These stories are great to use for discussions.

We also use these stories to spark journal prompts.

These stories are also great for character analysis.

After reading both geography stories, we can create another anchor chart comparing fiction and nonfiction stories.

One of our favorite things to do as a class is to do a little Reader’s Theater.  This is a fun cumulative activity.

Component #3: Grammar

This unit deals with quotations.  To start out every grammar lesson, we use an anchor poster.   The kids then write their own anchor poster in their grammar notebooks.  This is their reference journal for the year.

There are many, many anchor posters with this unit.  The kids especially love the “said” poster.

Quotations task cards can be played either in small groups or by individual students.

These cartoons are so cute!  They are perfect to use for students practicing adding quotations!

Mad Libs are another student favorite!  These are a spiraling review to practice parts of speech.

Narrative Writing

We used narrative writing in this unit because it’s a wonderful way to get more quotation writing practice!  The anchor posters are used to create our own anchor poster in our writing notebooks.  We use the graphic organizers to help come up with characters and character traits.   After writing out our story on the writing paper, we get in groups to peer edit.

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Find the Introductory Unit to Geography here and watch this fun little video.

For more Boost It With Vocabulary Units, see how we incorporated reading, writing, and grammar in our Back to School Super Sleuth Unit.

I hope you’ve found this unit useful to make teaching social studies easy and fun.  Be sure to check out this curriculum to help get all of your skills in this year.

Happy Teaching!


Want a sample of the Back to School Super Sleuth unit?  Subscribe in the box below to get your FREE sample!!!






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