What our All about North America lesson plan includes
Lesson Objectives and Overview: All about North America introduces students to the familiar continent. Students should be familiar with the seven continents but may not know many specifics about them. They will learn about North America’s countries, people, attractions, and other interesting facts. At the end of the lesson, students will be able to locate the continent on a map and list some of the countries and characteristics. This lesson is for students in 3rd grade, 4th grade, and 5th grade.
Every lesson plan provides you with a classroom procedure page that outlines a step-by-step guide to follow. You do not have to follow the guide exactly. The guide helps you organize the lesson and details when to hand out worksheets. It also lists information in the orange box that you might find useful. You will find the lesson objectives, state standards, and number of class sessions the lesson should take to complete in this area. In addition, it describes the supplies you will need as well as what and how you need to prepare beforehand. Ensure your students have internet access for this lesson.
Options for Lesson
There are suggestions in the “Options for Lesson” section of the classroom procedure page for additional activities or ideas. Consider starting with a lesson on the seven continents. This will make it easier for students to differentiate between the primary countries and the continent in which the countries are located. Have students choose the territory they research for the homework. Have students create an imaginary travel log that describes a visit to another country. Plan a North America Day that celebrates the clothing and foods of the various countries in North America. Assign a different North American country to each student and have them research the country and present the information they find to the class.
The teacher notes page includes a paragraph with additional guidelines and things to think about as you begin to plan your lesson. It emphasizes that this lesson will help your students with map skills as well. This page also includes lines that you can use to add your own notes as you’re preparing for this lesson.
ALL ABOUT NORTH AMERICA LESSON PLAN CONTENT PAGES
The All about North America lesson plan includes four pages of content. Geography is the study of places and how people relate to the physical environments in which they live. Physical environments refer to land, rivers, oceans, streams, weather, and anything that impacts people’s lives. Geo- comes from the Latin word meaning Earth or land. The Latin or Greek root for -graphy means to write or record something. In our modern language, it means to study something.
Two methods of describing the earth are with physical attributes and with political attributes. Physical attributes are natural traits such as rivers, mountains, oceans, deserts, or the shape of the land. Political attributes are the boundaries that countries establish to define their countries’ borders. Geographers use both to describe the earth. For example, a continent is a large area of land. Water, like an ocean or some other land feature, separates continents. Geographers divide the earth into seven continents.
When geographers refer to a country or nation, they refer to political borders. Borders are artificial lines that separate countries from each other. A nation is a geographic area with a government, common culture, history, and language, and the people share similar ideas. In most cases, several nations inhabit a single continent. The United Nations recognizes 193 countries total. Not all countries are members of the United Nations, and many geographers count additional countries, bringing the total to approximately 200. That’s a lot of countries on a small number of continents!
Countries vs. Territories
There is another geographic political category called a territory. A territory is an area of land that relies on a larger country for support. Territories have independent governments. They are geographically located outside of the main country. In addition, they usually don’t have voting rights in the national elections of their affiliated countries. Territories receive financial and other support from the government they are affiliated with.
The North American continent includes the United States, Canada, Mexico, and the countries in Central America. Like several of the island countries in Central America, Greenland and the West Indies are considered part of North America as well though they are not physically on the main continent. In total, 23 countries and several territories compose the North American continent.
Students can then review the charts that list all the countries and territories in North America. There are 23 countries and 22 territories, along with the respective flags. (Students may realize that the French flag is used for Clipperton Island because there is no official flag for that territory. If you want, you could make a game of this section and test students’ memory on which flags belong to which country/territory.)
Many European governments are affiliated with territories within the North American continental boundaries. In modern times, several territories want to reconsider their territorial status and become independent nations instead. A good example is Puerto Rico, a United States territory. Puerto Rico has a non-voting congressperson in the US Congress. Over the past 25 years, there has been a continuous debate among Puerto Rican citizens about whether Puerto Rico should become the 51st state, remain a territory, or declare complete independence as a nation on its own.
The final page and a half of the content pages list some fun facts about the continent of North America. (This could also be an opportunity to test students’ memory!)
- The North American continent is the third-largest continent behind Asia and Africa.
- Greenland is the largest island on the planet that is not a continent. Ice covers nearly 80% of Greenland.
- You would find all the world’s major biomes on the North American continent (deserts, tundras, rainforests, coral reefs, grasslands, etc.).
- Geographers divide the North American continent into five topographical regions. They are the Great Plains, Canadian Shield, Caribbean, mountainous west, and the eastern region.
- North America is bordered to the north by the Arctic Ocean, to the east by the Atlantic Ocean, to the southeast by South America and the Caribbean Sea, and to the west and south by the Pacific Ocean.
- The Caribbean region has over 7,000 islands, islets, reefs, and cays.
- Although English, Spanish, and French are the main languages people speak in North America, it is estimated that 300 unique languages and up to 600 total languages are spoken on the continent.
- Cholula in Mexico is the oldest continuously inhabited city in North America. People have lived in the city since the 2nd century BCE.
- Canada is the largest country on the North American continent. Mexico City is the largest city.
- Canada and the United States of America have the longest land border in the world.
- North America grows the most corn in the world.
The modern-day North American continent is in a continuous state of change. Economic interests drive much of the change. For example, Mexico and Canada are the largest trading partners with the United States other than China. The Panama Canal, which connects the Pacific and Atlantic oceans, is a major transportation route connecting the North American continent to Asia and Europe.
Trade agreements between the countries have increased the region’s economic fortunes and job opportunities. While many sticky issues need to be resolved between the countries and territories in the North American continent, there are more places where governments have a common interest in the region’s success.
ALL ABOUT NORTH AMERICA LESSON PLAN WORKSHEETS
The All about North America lesson plan includes three worksheets: an activity worksheet, a practice worksheet, and a homework assignment. Each one will help students solidify their grasp of the lesson material in different ways. You can refer to the guide on the classroom procedure page to determine when to hand out each worksheet.
JIG SAW PUZZLE ACTIVITY WORKSHEET
Students can also work with partners or in groups if you like. For the activity, they will cut out the pieces of the puzzle and shuffle them in a pile. Then they will put the puzzle back together. You can make a competition of it and see who can finish the puzzle the fastest.
LABEL THE COUNTRIES PRACTICE WORKSHEET
For the practice worksheet, students will label the countries they find on the map on the worksheet. There is no list of countries, so students will need to research where they are on a map and which ones are visible. They can use any of the blank space to write out the countries that are not visible. (Students should be able to label 15 countries and list out the remaining 8.)
ALL ABOUT NORTH AMERICA HOMEWORK ASSIGNMENT
The homework assignment asks students to choose a territory. Students will then write a paragraph that describes that territory’s culture and other interesting facts. They must also include which country their chosen territory is affiliated with.
Worksheet Answer Keys
This lesson plan includes an answer key for the practice worksheet. If you choose to administer the lesson pages to your students via PDF, you will need to save a new file that omits this page. Otherwise, you can simply print out the applicable pages and keep this as reference for yourself when grading the assignment.