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 "La Brea Tar Pits," make "salmon" fish prints, build and test out marshmallow structures that will withstand an earthquake, and more! My lessons are geared toward 4th-5th grade level children and their siblings. Another creative mom planned this lesson to do with our 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 class, family, or homeschool co-op group!
Which Pacific Coast State would you like to visit?
Pacific Coast States
1. Pray. Read and discuss John 15.
2. Briefly discuss what comes to mind when you think of the Pacific States. Quickly introduce these states by showing the US map from "It's a Big, Big World Atlas" and asking the children what they see.
*Each group of children will rotate between 3 stations twice, visiting 6 stations in all. Each station will last about 20 minutes.*
Washington Apples - Apple Tasting & Apple Pie
3a. i. Briefly mention how Washington is our country's number one apple growing state.
ii. Make an apple pie. Each group of 4-5 children will make 1 pie. We had the older children peel, core, & slice the apples. If you have younger children, you might want to have an adult do the slicing or use a fruit & vegetable chopper. Another group can work on making the pie crust.
iii. Have children taste slices of a variety of different apples and discuss their textures, tartness, sweetness, etc. Have them each each tell what their favorite variety of apple is.
YOU WILL NEED: 6 pie plates, aluminum foil, 2 large mixing bowls, 2-4 rolling pins, 2 mixing spoons, 2 liquid measuring cups, 2 measuring spoons, 4-8 vegetable peelers, 2-4 paring knives (or fruit & vegetable chopper), 2-4 cutting boards, 2 cups shortening, 2 cups butter + 9 tablespoons butter, 6 cups flour, 2 cups boiling water, 1 tablespoon salt, 1 tablespoon baking powder, 4 eggs (optional), 2 tablespoons cinnamon, 1 tablespoon each each cloves and nutmeg (optional), 4 1/2 cups sugar, 31 granny smith apples, variety of different apples such as 3 Golden Delicious, 3 Fuji, 3 Red Delicious, 3 Macintosh, & 3 Gala
Washington Apple Pie
Each group of 4-5 children will make this recipe.
- 1/3 cup shortening
- 1/3 cup butter
- 2 cups flour
- 1/3 cup boiling water
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- egg wash = 1 egg beaten with 1 teaspoon of water (optional - for topping)
- 7 granny smith apples
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- 1/2 teaspoon each cloves and nutmeg (optional)
- 1 1/2 tablespoons butter
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 1. Preheat the over to 425F.
- 2. To make the crust, mix together the shortening, 1/3 cup butter, & flour. Stir in the boiling water, salt, & baking powder. Separate the dough into 3 balls. Place each ball between two pieces of wax paper that has been sprinkled with flour. Roll the dough out into 2 circles. Place 1 circle of dough into a pie plate.
- 3. To make the filling, peel, core, & slice the apples. Mix together the cinnamon, sugar, and nutmeg & cloves (if using), and then sprinkle over the apples. Place the apple filling into the pie pan. Dot with 1 1/2 tablespoons butter.
- 4. Cover the apples with the top crust. Crimp the edges together. Use a knife to make 4 slits in the top so that steam can escape. If desired, brush the top with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tsp. of water) in order to make the pie appear golden.
- 5. Bake at 425F for 15 minutes. Then reduce the temperature to 350F and continue to bake for 45 minutes, or until the top is golden.
- (This recipe came from food.com.)
If you'd like to add in a book, this is a good option on how apples grow. *"Apples" by Gail Gibbons is also great!*
Washington Space Needle & Starbucks
3b. Divide the 10 children into 2 groups of 4-5. Half the children will do the Seattle Space Needle while the other group makes the coffee play-dough and then they will switch.
i. Make a model of the Seattle Space Needle. Show a picture of the Space Needle in Seattle as you discuss its history (why it was built) and what you would see if you visited it today. (You can find that information at wikipedia.org/.) Lead the children in making a model of the Space Needle. They should write their name on the bottom of one of their plates. Have them flip one of the plates over and tape the plates together like a clamshell. Next, push the skewer through the top with the sharp point sticking out. Stab the tips of 3 pipe cleaners in the bottom of the plate. Tape them to the bamboo skewer halfway down. Turn the third plate upside down and stab the bottom of the skewer into it. Stab the bottom of the bamboo skewer and the bottoms of the 3 pipe cleaners into the the underside of the third plate. If time allows, use the black sharpie marker to draw windows on the top plate.
YOU WILL NEED: a picture of the Seattle Space Needle (from a book, the Internet, or on your laptop), 3 small (dessert size) styrofoam plates per child, 1 bamboo shish kabob skewer per child, 3 pipe cleaners per child, black sharpie marker per child, & scotch tape
ii. Seattle is also home to Starbucks, famous around the world for its coffee. Have children make coffee grounds play-dough by each mixing together 1 cup of used coffee grounds that have been dried out ahead of time, 1/4 cup salt, 3/4 cup of cornmeal, and just enough warm water to moisten all the ingredients. Allow children to play with it a bit and then put it in a baggie to take home. As an added bonus, this play-dough should help counteract the "fishy" smell from the other activity.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 cup of used coffee grounds that have been dried out (per child), 1/4 cup salt (per child), 3/4 cup of cornmeal (per child), 5 small cups of warm water, & 1 sandwich baggie (per child)
Washington Salmon Fish Prints
iii. If you are not limited by time, mention how Seattle has one of the world's largest salmon markets. Instead of taking a photograph to remember a fish that you caught, you can instead make a Japanese Fish Print, called Gyotaku. We used tilapia purchased from the seafood department at the grocery store instead of salmon simply to keep the costs down. Ahead of time, wipe down the fish with a small amount of vinegar mixed with water to get any "slime" off of the fish. To make the prints, first cover the table with layers of newspapers. Lay each fish on the newspapers. Allow children to paint the fish with various colors. The prints come out better if the the layer of paint is very thin. Only add a tiny bit of paint to the eye. Paint the fins and tail last. Have the children lay their sheet of paper over the fish and then gently press the paper over the fish. They should not make the paper slide at all or it will smear. You can tell the children to use their fingers to find the tail, the fins, the eye, etc. to make sure they press down on all the body parts. Have them gently lift up the paper, starting from the head and going to the tail. After the child is finished with the fish, wipe it off with a baby wipe, dip it in a small pan of water, and then gently dab it dry in preparation for the next group of children. Allow children to clean their hands if needed.
YOU WILL NEED: 5 whole tilapia (or any other fish), paintbrushes, paints (acrylic paint works best but poster paint will also work), newspapers, baby wipes, small tub of water, paper towels, 5 small or medium sized bowls
Book to read about Pacific Northwest Salmon
This is a good book about salmon to read aloud to the group if you have extra time. This was our favorite picture book about salmon.
Oregon Trees: Conifers & Deciduous Trees and Pine Cone Bird Feeders
3c. Mention how Oregon is one of the nation's leading producers of lumber and plywood.
-Briefly mention the difference between conifer & deciduous trees. If desired, show pine needles and leaves.
-Briefly discuss state birds and ask if anyone knows the state bird of Oregon. It is the western meadowlark, which is a popular choice for state birds in the Western states: Montana, Kansas, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oregon, and Wyoming. Many of the state birds were chosen by school children. The children of Washington state selected the western meadowlark to be their state's bird, but a woman's organization requested the state have a different state bird because so many states had already chosen the western meadowlark. Washington state's state bird is now the American Goldfinch.
-Make a pine cone bird feeder. Do this outside for easy clean-up. Have each child write their name on sheet of paper and then place the sheet of paper in a plastic grocery store bag with their name facing outward. This will be used so that they can tell which bird feeder is theirs. Have children tie a string to the top of a pine cone. Use a plastic knife to spread peanut butter over the pine cone. Use a cup full of birdseed to sprinkle over the pine cone. Do this over a bucket in order to catch the loose birdseed. Place the bird feeder on the sheet of paper. Have children place their bird feeder in the plastic bag and then allow children to wash their hands. Do not leave these outside if you live in an area that has ants.
YOU WILL NEED: pine needles & leaves (optional), 1 sheet of paper per child, 1 grocery store bag per child, markers, 1 pine cone per child (the larger the better), 1 plastic knife per child, 1 piece of 2' string or yarn, 5 large containers of peanut butter, 1 10 lb. bag of bird seed
Book to show and read about some of the state birds
This is a cute book that features the state birds for each state and includes a bit of information about each one. The fun illustrations definitely help to keep the attention of the children. If you have extra time, read the page on the western meadowlark.
*While parents/teachers set up the next stations, briefly review what the children have learned so far about the Pacific Coast states.*
California La Brea Tar Pits
4a. Mention how Gaspar de Portola, a Spanish explorer, wrote about the "extensive bogs of tar" that he found in what is present day Los Angeles. The La Brea Tar Pits contain one of the richest fossil deposits in the world. Because oil and tar seeped up from beneath the earth's surface, millions of bones were preserved there. Have the children use chopsticks to "excavate" fossil skeletons (balsa wood dinosaur skeleton pieces) from the molasses "tar pit." They can put the pieces they find in the plastic bin. Limit each child to a certain number of "fossils" in order to ensure that all children will have an opportunity to pull out some items. It's okay if they do not get all the pieces out. Then have them work together as acrheolgists and try to piece together the skeleton pieces to determine what animal they think it is. After children have washed their hands, use a book or the Internet to show pictures of animals fossils that have been found in La Brea.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 medium-sized bowl, 5 containers of molasses, at least 10 sets of chopsticks, 3 wooden dinosaur skeleton sets (sold for $1 each at Michael's and at other craft stores) or just use 10 plastic toy animals, a plastic bin or a plate, baby wipes, & paper towels
California's Giant Sequoias & Farms
Rings of Trees & Terrariums
4b. i. Go outside. Show children pictures of sequoia trees, which grow naturally only in CA, west of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. General Sherman, one of the oldest, tallest, & widest trees in the world is 275 feet tall, which is higher than a 25-story building, and its diameter is 25 feet. Tell children that they can find the circumference of the tree by multiplying pi times the diameter. That means that General Sherman's circumference is about 78.5 feet. Have the children each grab a section of the ropes that have been tied off to make a 78.5' circle. Have the children spread out so that they can see how large around General Sherman is.
ii. Some sequoias in California are over 2000 years old! Briefly discuss dendrochronology, which is dating a tree by counting its rings. Have the children work in groups to either use slices of a tree or a worksheet with a picture (such as the one from ltrr.arizona.edu) to count the rings of a tree and determine how old it is. You can find more tips on what to say and do at ehow.com .
YOU WILL NEED: about 78.5 ft of ropes tied together in a circle and at least 1 slice of tree trunk or a picture from the Internet or your laptop with a picture of a tree trunk slice “cookie” on it that shows the rings clearly
iii. California is not only famous for its Giant Sequoia trees, but it also leads the nation in agriculture. Most of the fruits, vegetables, & nuts we buy at the store come from California because it has such fertile soil. We will make our own little piece of fertile soil by making miniature terrariums. Line up the jars (which should have the children's names on them), pebbles, charcoal (sometimes called terrarium charcoal), potting soil, sheet moss, other seedlings/plants (if using), & water in a line. Have the children walk through the line and put about 1 inch of each of the items in their jars in that order. If they are not able to get the moss to drop in green-side-up, they can use a stick to push it over. Slowly pour just enough water into the jar until you can see water in the pebble layer. Screw on the lid. They should remove the lid when they get home and keep it off for a month or so. After that, they can cover the jar and spritz it with water every few weeks.
YOU WILL NEED: 1 small handful of moss per child, 1 bag of potting soil, 1 bag of terrarium/activated/chipped charcoal (found at a nursery/garden center or pet store), 2-4 trowels or cups to use to pass out the charcoal and soil, sheet moss (sold in a nursery), 1 Dixie bathroom cup size cups per child for water, & items brought by families: a glass jar with lid with gravel/small pebbles
4c. i. Briefly discuss how California has many earthquakes since it is located on the San Andreas Fault. Therefore, architects and structural engineers have to build structures that can withstand earthquakes. Use a book or the internet to show pictures of some of the designs that have been successful.
ii. Read some of Earthquakes by Franklyn M. Branley.
iii. Have children act like civil engineers and construct buildings that can withstand an earthquake using toothpicks and marshmallows. Show them how to break toothpicks in half. Remind them of what we learned during our unit on bridges on how cubes and triangles may be stacked to make towers and about the strength of triangles. The towers can have small or large bases. If you'd like a general idea of more that you can say, read this engineering lesson.
iv. Show the waves of earthquakes using Jell-o and test out the structures. Let the children put their structures in a pan of jell-o and watch what happens when an "earthquake" hits. We simply laid the pans of jell-o in the middle of the table where the children worked and let them test out their structures (i.e. lay the marshmallow structure on top and wiggle the pan) as other children finished up making theirs. If they have time, they can re-build and re-test.
YOU WILL NEED: 50 toothpicks (per child), 50 miniature marshmallows (per child), 1 piece of wax paper (per child), 3 pans of prepared Jell-o
Book to read for Activity 4c on earthquakes
This was our favorite picture book that covers earthquakes. It has just the right amount of text and nice illustrations.
Pacific States Snack and Review
5. Come back together as a group and eat a slice of the Washington Apple Pie. Tell the children that we are eating Washington Apple Pie as Washington is the leading producer of apples.
-They have a maraschino cherry since Oregon is the main producer of maraschino cherries, turning out over 40 million pounds of maraschino cherries each year.
-Ask, “Which state do you think produces the most dairy products?” Even though Wisconsin and the Great Lakes States are known for the dairy industry, California leads the nation in dairy products. They have Cool Whip because of California’s dairy industry.
-If you buy pistachios, walnuts, or almonds from the store, they will almost definitely be from California. That’s why they have sliced almonds.
-Their drink is California "Napa Valley" white grape juice. California also leads the nation in grape production. Over 300,000 tons of grapes are grown each year in California. Some grapes are turned into wine. California grapes produce almost 90 percent of all American wines. Other California grapes are dried and sold as raisins, making Fresno the "Raisin Capital of the World."
YOU WILL NEED: plates, forks, cups, napkins, Cool Whip/Whipped Cream or ice cream, maraschino cherries, sliced almonds, & white grape juice
6. Review what the children learned about the Pacific Coast States. Ask the children what the Pacific Coast States are known for. Ask questions such as: Name a Pacific Coast State. (Have the children name them all.): WA, OR, CA. What is something you learned about Washington state? (Allow a few children to answer. Make sure someone mentions apples.) What did you learn about the Space Needle? (Allow a few children to answer.) What is Oregon’s nickname? (The Evergreen State) What is the difference between deciduous and coniferous trees? (Allow a few children to answer.) Tell me something about the giant trees that grow in California. (Allow a few children to answer.) How can you find out the age of a tree? (Count its rings.) California leads the nation in the production of what type of food? (dairy, almonds, avocados, broccoli, celery, grapes, hay, lemons, lettuce, onions, peaches, pistachios, plums, strawberries, tomatoes, and walnuts) Where would you find lots of fossils in California? (La Brea Tar Pit) What was your favorite activity from today? (Have each child answer.)
Joke: What happens when fog lifts in southern California?
Material List for This Lesson
ITEMS FOR FAMILIES TO BRING PER CHILD:
-this map of the US from last week: http://www.eduplace.com/ss/maps/pdf/uscap.pdf (optional)
-purple marker, pen or pencil, and black sharpie marker
-peeler (to peel apples) or paring knife and small cutting board (to slice apples) if you are comfortable with your child slicing apples
-scotch tape (1 per family)
-2 sheets of paper (scrap paper is fine)
-1 plastic grocery store bag
-1 pine cone (the larger the better)
-a glass jar with a lid (about the size of a spaghetti sauce jar) with your child’s name written on it and with about 1 inch of gravel/small stones in it (Aquarium gravel would be ideal but any small stones will be fine.)
ITEMS TO BE ASSIGNED TO SHARE WITH THE GROUP:
-1 set per 5-7 children: 1 pie plate, 1 large mixing bowl, 1 mixing spoons, measuring spoons, measuring cups, 2 paring knives, 2 cutting boards, 6-7 Granny Smith apples, cinnamon, cloves (optional), nutmeg (optional), 1 1/2 tablespoons butter, 3/4 cup sugar, 2 refrigerated pie crusts (1 box) or ingredients for pie crust
-per child: 1 apple rating chart, 1 Golden Delicious apple slice, 1 Fuji apple slice, 1 Red Delicious apple slice, 1 Macintosh apple slice, 1 Gala apple slice, & 1 Granny Smith apples slice (from previous activity)
-a picture of the Seattle Space Needle (from a book, the Internet, or on your laptop), 3 small (dessert size) styrofoam plates per child, 1 bamboo shish kabob skewer per child, 3 pipe cleaners per child, black sharpie marker per child, & scotch tape
-1 cup of used coffee grounds that have been dried out (per child), 1/4 cup salt (per child), 3/4 cup of cornmeal (per child), 5 small cups of warm water, & 1 sandwich baggie (per child)
-pine needles & leaves (optional), 1 plastic knife per child, 1 pieces of 2' yarn or string per child, 1 10 lb. bag of bird seed, bucket/bin to hold birdseed, 3 disposable cups to use for pouring out birdseed, 1 large container of peanut butter per 7-10 children
-1 medium-sized bowl, 3-5 containers of molasses, at least 10 sets of chopsticks, 3 wooden dinosaur skeleton sets (sold for $1 each at Michael's and at other craft stores) or just use 10 plastic toy animals, a plastic bin or a plate, baby wipes, & paper towels
-about 78.5 ft of ropes tied together in a circle and at least 1 slice of tree trunk or a picture from the Internet or your laptop with a picture of a tree trunk slice “cookie” on it that shows the rings clearly
-1 small handful of moss per child, 1 bag of potting soil, 1 bag of terrarium/activated/chipped charcoal (found at a nursery/garden center or pet store), 2-4 trowels or cups to use to pass out the charcoal and soil, sheet moss (sold in a nursery), 1 Dixie bathroom cup size cups per child for water
-Earthquakes by Franklyn M. Branley, 50 toothpicks (per child), 50 miniature marshmallows (per child), 1 piece of wax paper (per child), 3 pans of prepared Jell-o
-plates, forks or spoons, small/medium cups, Cool Whip or ice cream and spoon for serving it, maraschino cherries (the red cherries that you put on top of a sundae), sliced almonds, & white grape juice
Looking for my favorite books, video clips, and lapbooks on each state?
While studying the 50 States of the United States, we 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. At the below links I have posted our favorite books, YouTube video clips, lapbook page links, and tidbits about what makes each Middle Atlantic state unique.
California for Teachers & Travelers - Are you looking for fun worksheets, books, video clips, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about California, the Golden State? Included are links to wonderful worksheets,...
Visit Oregon Now: Oregon for Travelers & Teachers - Included are links for fun worksheets, books, video clips, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Oregon, the Beaver State.
Visit Washington State Now: Washington for Travelers and Teachers - Look here to find links for fun worksheets, books, video clips, and activity ideas for teaching and/or learning about Washington, the Evergreen State.
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 lens.
- 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.
- Fun, FREE Hands-on Unit Studies - Looking for all of my lessons and unit studies? Over the years I have posted over 30 science and social-studies based unit studies, compromised of more than 140 lessons. 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 the above link.
I use Konos Curriculum as a springboard from which to plan my lessons. It's a wonderful Christian curriculum and was created by moms with active children!
If you're new to homeschooling or in need of some fresh guidance, I highly recommend Konos' HomeSchoolMentor.com program! Watch videos on-line of what to do each day and how to teach it in this great hands-on format!
© 2012 Shannon