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New England States Lesson

Updated on March 12, 2015
Whaling Dramatization - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleHarrisonPhotography
Whaling Dramatization - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class: https://www.facebook.com/MichelleHarrisonPhotography

This is part 1 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on U.S. States & Regions. Bake and eat Boston Brown Bread, create lighthouse models, dissect crayfish, enjoy New England cuisine sampler plates, and more! My lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings. These are lessons I created to do with a weekly homeschool co-op. We meet each week for 2 1/2 hours and have 33 children between the ages of 1-13. Use these fun lessons with your classroom, family, camp, after school program, or homeschool co-op group!

Image Credit: http://www.discovernewengland.org/
Image Credit: http://www.discovernewengland.org/

New England States

1. Pray. Read and discuss Philippians 1:6.

2. Briefly discuss what comes to mind when you think of New England. Quickly introduce these states by showing the US map from "It's a Big, Big World Atlas" and asking the children what they see. If desired, have children color in the New England States on a printable map such as http://www.eduplace.com/ .

It's a Big Big World
It's a Big Big World

This is my absolute favorite atlas to use. It's quite sturdy (board book thickness) and large (about 1 1/2 x 2 feet) which makes it great for using with large groups. It also includes what is found in each of the various regions. It includes a world map, each of the continents, and then a map of the US. I have used this for numerous unit studies (Africa, Native Americans, Explorers, etc.). My children also love flipping through it just for fun. I am so glad that I bought this! I have used it over and over again.

 

*Each group of children will rotate between 3 stations twice, visiting 6 stations in all. Each station will last about 20 minutes.*

Boston Brown Bread

3a. Divide children into 2 groups of 5 so that each group will make 1 batch of the below recipe. Lead children in making Boston Brown Bread. They'll do all the measuring and mixing. You can tell them the history of the bread found at www.wisegeek.com as you make it. Be sure to tell them that this bread is usually steamed rather than baked, but it takes 3 hours to steam the bread and our class/co-op only lasts 2 hours. It was also usually made with rye flour since it was more common than wheat flour, but we're using whole wheat flour instead since rye flour isn't plentiful here. I will bring Boston Baked Beans that we'll eat with this at the end of co-op. (*While groups rotate, have 1 person clean the bowls. As soon as the group arrives, the other person can briefly tell the history of Boston Brown Bread and its ingredients.*)

YOU WILL NEED: mixing bowl, mixing spoon, liquid measuring cup, measuring cups, measuring spoons, bread pans, non-stick cooking spray, 6 c. milk, 3 T. vinegar, 4 c. whole wheat flour, 3 c. flour, 2 c. cornmeal, 2 T. baking soda, 3 t. salt, 3/4 c. brown sugar, 2 c. molasses, 1 1/2 . oil, 6 c. raisins

Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

Boston Brown Bread

Each group of 5 children will make this recipe.

  • Cook time: 1 hour
  • Ready in: 1 hour
  • Yields: 6-8

Ingredients

  • 1 cup milk
  • 2 teaspoons vinegar
  • 2/3 cup whole wheat flour
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 cup firmly packed brown sugar
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 1/4 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup raisins

Instructions

  1. Heat oven to 350 F. Generously spray the inside of your pan with non-stick cooking spray. Combine milk and vinegar in a liquid measuring cup. Set aside. Combine the whole wheat flour, all-purpose flour, cornmeal, brown sugar, baking soda and salt in a large mixing bowl; mix well. Add milk mixture, molasses and oil; stir just until dry ingredients are moistened. Fold in raisins. Spoon the batter into the greased pan. Bake for 40-45 minutes. This recipe came from www.sunmaid.com.
Cast your vote for Boston Brown Bread

Lighthouses

3b. Briefly discuss the importance of lighthouses. Show children some pictures of lighthouses. Have children make a model of a lighthouse by following the directions at www.cheslights.org. If you have extra time, start reading "Beacons of Light" by Gail Gibbons.

YOU WILL NEED: (per child) paper plate, 16 oz or larger Styrofoam cup, 1 inch toilet paper roll piece, construction paper, scissors, toothpick, wooden bead or pony bead, glue (foam or tacky glue works best), scotch tape, regular markers, & permanent markers

Beacons of Light
Beacons of Light

This was our favorite book that gave an overview of lighthouses. It includes the purpose of lighthouses and includes lighthouse terms. Plus, it has nice illustrations.

 

Clapboard Houses

Clapboard House Activity - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Clapboard House Activity - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

3c. Show children pictures of clapboard houses. You can look at en.wikipedia.org or search other sites for more info. Have children make models of clapboard houses using popsicle/craft sticks by gluing popsicle sticks at the bottom of a box, parallel to the table. Work upward, with each popsicle stick overlapping the one below it, so they will slant out slightly. etc.usf.edu can give you a general idea of what the children can do. While they're making their clapboard houses, you can also talk to them about saltbox houses and widow's walks (second story balconies). Can they guess why the walks were built? (Sea widows were women whose husbands were fishermen on long trips. They would walk along their widow's walk looking for ships coming in to shore.)

YOU WILL NEED: popsicle/craft sticks, glue, boxes, & pictures of New England architecture

*While parents/teachers set up the next stations, briefly review what the children have learned so far about the New England states.*

Dissecting a crayfish - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Dissecting a crayfish - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

Lobsters

4a. Briefly mention how catching lobsters is a common activity in New England. Since lobsters are pretty expensive, we'll dissect a crayfish instead. A crayfish is quite similar to a lobster. You can view the below YouTube videos and/or smithlifescience.com and decide what would be useful information to share with the children. *If you have extra time, start reading "Going Lobstering" by Jerry Pallota.*

YOU WILL NEED: 3 crayfish (I ordered 3 crayfish from www.hometrainingtools.com & received them within 3 days of ordering them using their normal shipping. I was very pleased with the company and would recommend them to anyone. The crayfish didn't even smell!), 3 hard, plastic disposable plates, paring knife (can be purchased from Dollar Tree & used only for dissections), scissors, & latex gloves

Going Lobstering (Outdoor Adventures)
Going Lobstering (Outdoor Adventures)

This is a fun book about 2 children who go out on a lobster boat to catch lobsters. It does a wonderful job of explaining the process and using common terms.

 

Fishermen Knots & Whaling

4b. i. Many of the New Englanders are fishermen and they have to tie many varieties of knots. Decide on a type of knot you'd like to teach, and teach the children that knot. This is one option: en.wikipedia.org

YOU WILL NEED: 1 piece of twine per child plus 1 for an example

Image credit: http://www.jpcoldham.net/
Image credit: http://www.jpcoldham.net/

4b. ii. (Speak through this quickly.) Some of the fishermen were whalers. (See Yankee Open Boat Whaling at en.wikipedia.org) Explain a bit about Yankee Whaling. You can mention some of this info if desired: Since whales breathe air, they have to surface occasionally to get air. This is called breeching. Water shoots out from their blow hole. That's when the scout would shout, "Thar she blows!" and the men would race in their boats to harpoon the massive animal. The whale would of course dive (called sounding). The men would row their boats with their backs toward the whale. Why? To prevent fear. After harpooning a whale, they would get a "Nantucket Sleigh Ride." Sailors would pull up their oars and let it run. Once they killed a whale, they'd stick a flag in it to identify which company it belonged to. What they wanted to get was the blubber. They would cut the blubber into chunks called Bible leaves (chunks of blubber about the size of a Bible). They'd take those to the trying posts where the blubber would be boiled to extract the oil. Why was the oil so valuable? (oil lamps & perfume).

Whaling Dramatization Activity - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Whaling Dramatization Activity - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

4b. iii. Act out whaling: Set up 4 tables in the form of a rectangle with space in the middle. This will be the rowboat. 2 children get to be the whales. The other children will be the sailors and will have to get inside the table area. Set up one child on one of the other tables in the corner. This child will be the scout on the whaling ship. S/he'll get a cardboard tube "looking glass." Whenever s/he sees a whale breeching, s/he should shout, "Thar she blows!" The other sailors in the ship will try to "harpoon" the whale (using pool noodles). The 2 whales can "swim" (crawl) across the floor. Every 5 seconds they must breech. If desired, you can pretend to cut up the whale and boil its blubber as well. We used chapter 1 from "Yankee Whalers" by M.J. Cosson to get an idea of the steps involved in whaling.

YOU WILL NEED: 2 pool noodles, cardboard tube or spyglass, & pirate hats (optional)

Yankee Whalers (Events in American History)
Yankee Whalers (Events in American History)

Chapter 1 from this book has a great account of what it was actually like for New England whalers to actually catch a fish. It's a great resource to use for dramatizing whaling!

 

New England Sampler Plates

4c. Dish up the food & pour the cider ahead of time! Give each child only a sample-sized amount so that everyone can get some and so that none will be wasted. Make plates for the teachers/parents as well! When each group arrives, have each child take 1 sampler plate and 1 cup of apple cider. Tell them to not taste anything yet as we'll be sampling each item one at a time. While one teacher/parent talks through the food items, another teacher/parent can begin boiling the maple syrup.

YOU WILL NEED: small, disposable bowls, cups, plates, & spoons, Campbell's Chunky Clam Chowder Soup, oyster crackers, (imitation) lobster pieces, Boston Baked Beans, Cabot cheese, cranberries, Boston Brown Bread, maple syrup, crushed ice, & apple cider

Clam Chower - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Clam Chower - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

Clam Chowder & Oyster Crackers

4c. i. Have children taste the Clam Chowder. As they taste it tell them something like this: The New England States are next to the Atlantic Ocean, so what kinds of foods might they eat a lot of? Yes, seafood. The love digging up clams along the beach. A favorite way to serve the clams is to make a soup out of it, called Clam Chowder. They love to eat it with oyster crackers. Why do you think they're called oyster crackers? Yes, they're shaped like oysters.

YOU WILL NEED: Clam Chowder (Campbell's Chunky tastes the most authentic), oyster crackers, disposable bowls, & spoons

Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder, 10.75 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)
Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder, 10.75 Ounce Cans (Pack of 12)

A few people from New England said that Campbell's Chunky New England Clam Chowder is the closest canned soup to authentic New England Clam Chowder you can purchase in most areas.

 

Lobster

4c. ii. Have children taste the "lobster." Another seafood they eat is lobsters. What did you learn about lobsters today?

YOU WILL NEED: lobster chunks or imitation lobster (If you serve real lobster, be sure to check to find out if anyone is allergic to shellfish before serving this!)

Boston Brown Bread & Boston Baked Beans

4c. iii. Have children eat the Boston Brown Bread they made with Boston Baked Beans. Say something like this: Massachusetts was settled by whom? Yes, the Pilgrims. Later another group of people called the Puritans came to live there. Both these groups took God's word seriously. That included the 4th commandment. Who knows what the 4th Commandment says? It has to do with Sunday. Yes, you're supposed to keep Sunday holy. You're not supposed to work on Sunday or make other people work on Sunday. For the Puritans, that meant no cooking either. No, they didn't starve on Sunday. They prepared ahead of time. On Saturday they would prepare a huge pot of Boston Baked Beans. They'd simmer it over a low fire until Sunday dinner when they'd serve it after church. People in Massachusetts still love Boston Baked Beans, and they love to serve it with a side of Boston Brown Bread. (We used the 2 loaves of Boston Brown Bread made by the first group during the first rotation. We divided up the remaining 4 loaves and sent them home for each family to share.)

YOU WILL NEED: Boston Brown Bread (made earlier) with Boston Baked Beans (either purchased from the canned bean aisle or homemade). I made this recipe: Grammie's Boston Baked Beans. If desired, you can also bring authentic B&M Boston Brown Bread (sold next to the baked beans at our grocery store) for the children to compare with what they made.

Apple Cider - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class
Apple Cider - Photo taken by Michelle Harrison, who participates in our class

Apple Cider

4c. iv.Tell children to taste the apple cider. Say something like: Certain types of apples grow in New England. They love to make apple cider out of the apples. They press the apples through some mesh to get the juice out. They love to serve it warm with spices in it. How is this different from apple juice? Yes, it has more pulp in it.

YOU WILL NEED: apple cider & cups

Cabot Cheddar Cheese

4c. v. As children taste the cheese, mention how there are many dairies in New England, and Vermont is especially known for their sharp cheddar cheese manufactured by Cabot. In Vermont they also produce another famous dairy product, Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream.

YOU WILL NEED: Cabot cheese

Cranberries

4c. vi. Mention how cranberries are plentiful in Massachusetts. They grow in wet bogs. They contain air. After they are ripe, they float to the top and are scooped up by cranberry pickers. Cranberries are tested for the amount of air in them. The highest bouncers are sold fresh, whereas the others are sold for juice or sauce. When you cook fresh cranberries to make homemade cranberry sauce, you boil them until they start popping. The air inside them heats up and then the berry bursts. Let the children taste a fresh cranberry and a dried crasin.

YOU WILL NEED: cranberries & craisins

Maple Syrup

4c. vii. Say something like: Maine and Vermont are well known for something you love to eat on pancakes. Maple syrup! The syrup comes from a maple tree and is very watery. They boil out the water to make the syrup. After boiling the maple syrup, kids love to have "sugar on the snow," which is a taffy-like candy created when boiling hot maple syrup is poured over snow. Since we don't have snow, we'll use crush ice straight from our freezer. Have a teacher/mother pour boiling hot maple syrup over a small plate of ice. First let it cool and harden, which is should do almost instantly. Then let the children each taste a piece of it. Tell them that frequently this will be eaten with pickles and homemade doughnuts. (*Note, the maple syrup needs to boil for a few minutes in order for it to become a taffy-like syrup. Be sure to stir it constantly, though, so it doesn't burn.)

YOU WILL NEED: boiling hot maple syrup, crushed ice (from a freezer's water/ice dispenser), & a plate

Maple Syrup Season

4c. viii. Read “Maple Syrup Season” by Ann Purmell

YOU WILL NEED: “Maple Syrup Season” by Ann Purmell

Review

5. Come back together as a group and review what the children learned about the New England States.

Ask questions such as: Name a New England state. (Have the children name them all.) (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, & CT) What is something you learned about the history of Boston Brown Bread? (Ask a few children to answer.) Why are lighthouses important along the New England Coastlines? What is something you learned about lighthouses? (Ask a few children to answer.) What type of house was common in the New England states? (Clapboard) Describe what it looked like. (Overlapping boards.) What is something you learned about clapboard houses, saltbox houses, or widow walks? (Ask a few children to answer.) What did you learn about lobsters or crayfish, which are similar to lobsters? (Ask a few children to answer.) Why would fishermen need to tie knots? Describe something that would happen during Yankee New England Whaling. (Ask a few children to answer.) What did you learn about maple syrup? (Ask a few children to answer.) What is something you learned about one of the foods of New England? (Ask a few children to answer.) What was your favorite activity from today? (Have each child answer.)

Joke: If April showers bring May flowers, what do May flowers bring?

Pilgrims!

Material List for the Lesson

EVERYONE NEEDS TO BRING PER CHILD:
-this map of the US: http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/pdf/uscap.pdf
-toilet paper roll cut in half (so it is still a cylinder)
-glue (tacky, wood, or elmer’s liquid)
-scotch tape (1 roll per family)
-regular markers
-1-2 sharpie markers (black and red if you have one)
-pen or pencil
-scissors
-a small box (ideally about the size of a cube-shaped Kleenex box or smaller)
-popsicle/craft sticks (at least 50)
-pool noodle, soft foam sword, or similar soft foam item that can be thrown at a child without hurting them
-snow cone maker (optional – If anyone has one or can borrow one, please bring it.)

ITEMS TO BE ASSIGNED TO SHARE WITH THE GROUP:
-PER GROUP OF 5-6 CHILDREN: mixing bowl, mixing spoon, liquid measuring cup, measuring cups, measuring spoons, bread pan, non-stick cooking spray, 1 c. milk, 2 t. vinegar, 2/3 c. whole wheat flour, 1/2 c. white flour, 1/3 c. cornmeal, 1 t. baking soda, 1/2 t. salt, 1/4 c. brown sugar, 1/3 c. molasses (plus a bit more for tasting), 1/4 c. cooking oil, & 1 c. raisins
-“Beacons of Light” by Gail Gibbons
-PER CHILD: 1 paper plate, 16 oz or larger Styrofoam cup, toothpick, wooden bead or pony bead, strip of yellow construction paper about 5 1/2 ” x 1”, circle of red and/or black construction paper that is about 2 1/2” in diameter
-pictures of clapboard houses, saltbox houses, and widow walks from a book from the library about New England architecture or from the internet
-“Going Lobstering” by Jerry Pallota, 1 hard plastic disposable plate, 1 paring knife (bought from the Dollar Tree or other knife to use for cutting open the crayfish), sharp scissors, latex gloves, & crayfish
-PER CHILD: piece of twine that is about 12”
-cardboard tube from a paper towel roll or spyglass and pirate hat or bandana
-"Maple Syrup Season" by Ann Purmell, saucepan, wooden spoon, maple syrup, ice, blender or snow cone maker (if someone has a snowcone maker), & 1 small plate per child
-Styrofoam coffee cups or medium-size cups, Dixie bathroom cup size cups, plates, spoons, apple cider, Campbell’s Chunky Clam Chowder Soup in a microwave-safe bowl, oyster crackers, imitation lobster cut into small pieces (or get real lobster if desired), Boston Baked Beans (such as Bush’s Best Boston Recipe Baked Beans) in a microwave-safe bowl or make your own by following a recipe such as http://www.food.com/recipe/grammie-beas-boston-baked-beans-218828), sharp cheddar Cabot cheese cut into small pieces, craisins, & fresh cranberries

Looking for Our Favorite Resources on Individual New England States?

New England Autumn Foliage
New England Autumn Foliage | Source

While studying this unit, my family spent one day studying each individual state. For about an hour each day we read picture books related to that state and completed a state fact sheet. We then spent about 30-60 minutes watching YouTube clips related to that state. Each week my 9 year old son also read at least one chapter book on his own related to each region. He would complete a book report or write an essay using information from that book. My 6 year old son would complete a brief book report sheet on one of the picture books we read together. Occasionally during the week we made regional foods for dinner. I have posted our favorite books and YouTube clips for each state at the below links.

Maine for Teachers and Travelers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Maine? Included are links to wonderful worksheets, book suggestions...

New Hampshire for Teachers and Travelers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about New Hampshire? Included are links to wonderful worksheets, book...

Vermont for Teachers & Travelers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Vermont? Included are links to wonderful worksheets, book suggestions...

Connecticut for Travelers & Teachers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, YouTube clips, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Connecticut? Included are links to wonderful...

Visit Rhode Island Now: Rhode Island for Teachers & Travelers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Rhode Island? Included are links to wonderful worksheets, book...

Visit Massachusetts Now: Massachusetts for Travelers & Teachers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Massachusetts? Included are links to wonderful worksheets, book...

Ready for the next lesson?

Cook and eat regional foods, play rodeo games, enjoy a luau, dance zydeco, celebrate a Southwest Fiesta, and more while studying the 50 States of the United States. Since there were so many great resources we found for each individual state, I've also created a webpage featuring our favorite books, YouTube clips, & more for each state. You can find the links for each state on my 50 States Lesson Plans Page.

  • New England States Lesson - This is part 1 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on U.S. States & Regions. Bake and eat Boston Brown Bread, create lighthouse models, dissect crayfish, enjoy New England cuisine sampler plates, and more!
  • Mid-Atlantic States Lesson - This is part 2 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the 50 States. Sculpt the Statue of the Liberty, act out Rip Van Winkle, hold an Amish barn-raising, and more!
  • Great Lakes States Lesson - This is part 3 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the U.S. States & Regions. Make and eat ice cream, construct Lego's cars on an assembly line, dig the Erie Canal and sail boats down the water, assemble Harley Davidson motorcycles out of cheese, and more!
  • Midwest States Lesson - This is part 4 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the 50 States. Bake and eat Midwest cornbread, deliver mail on the Pony Express, carve Mount Rushmore, grind wheat, construct sod houses, sample regional foods, and more!
  • Rocky Mountain States Lesson - This is part 5 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the U.S. States & Regions. Cook & eat Cowboy Stew, paint a mountain landscape scene, compete in a rodeo round-up, hold salt flat races, and more!
  • Pacific Coast States Lesson - This is part 6 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the 50 States. Bake & eat Washington Apple Pie, create “Starbucks” coffee grounds play-dough, piece together “fossils” excavated from the “La Brea Tar Pits,” make “Salmon” fish prints, build and test out marshmallow structures for earthquakes, and more!
  • Alaska and Hawaii Lesson - This is part 7 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the U.S. States & Regions. Construct sugar cube igloos, host a luau complete with grass skirts and hula dancing, carve soap scrimshaw, dramatize the Iditarod, sample regional foods, and more!
  • Southwest States Lesson - This is part 8 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the Fifty States. Celebrate a fiesta, compete in an Oklahoma Land Run, play Texas rodeo games, create a Sonora desert diorama, and more!
  • Visiting Southern States - This is part 9 of a 9 part hands-on unit study on the U.S. States & Regions. Race in the Kentucky Derby, make and eat Key Lime Pie & homemade peanut butter, celebrate Mardi Gras, make a swamp diorama, dance Zydego, and more!
  • 50 States Projects - This is the end of the unit project following a 9 part hands-on unit study on the 50 States. Perform a play about the fifty states while enjoying a dinner that features regional foods from across the United States. Also included are regional recipe links and field trips we attended while studying this unit.

Looking for all of my unit studies and lessons?

Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. The unit studies include the Human Body, Simple Machines, Earth Science, Medieval Period, American Revolution, Pioneer Life, Countries of the World, and many more! For each lesson I have included activities (with photos), our favorite books and YouTube video clips, lapbook links, and other resources. I posted links to all of my unit studies and lessons at Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies .

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© 2012 iijuan12

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      Kumar P S 4 years ago

      Nice lens ! Useful and informative.

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      iijuan12 4 years ago from Florida

      @Kumar P S: Thank you!

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