4th Grade California Regions: Sierra Nevada & Cascades


This page is one side of what will be a 2-page spread. The  opposite side will also have the same red strip dividing the top and bottom cards, with the word “Regions” on it.

So, here are my 4th grader’s cards for the Sierra Nevada & Cascade ranges. We happen to live in the Sierra Nevada foothills – right in the middle of Gold Country – so naturally he has experienced much of this area firsthand and knows a ton of stuff pertaining to it. He especially loved learning about John Muir (and has been inspired to do a 1,000 mile walk like he did – only ours will be an accumulation of *local* miles walked,  as opposed to Muir’s journey down to the Gulf of Mexico).  His favorite embellishment on this card was the image of the California Gold Rush stamp.

I was really happy with how his “Coast” card turned out. We are originally from, and often spend time in, a California coastal town – so he really enjoyed working on that card. We read and discussed a ton of things about this region, as well as watched a couple of videos (his favorite one to watch over and over is the video from the Soarin’ over California ride at Disney’s California Adventure, as it lets you “fly” over the coast – I think he’s having some serious Disney withdrawals :P ).

Despite all the discussion and activities pertaining to this region, I didn’t require him to write much about it. He simply picked out several photos of his favorite things about the coast, writing only about what peaked his interest most – the Great White Shark (I did require his shark fact to be California-related).

We didn’t bother with a map for this region simply because the title is self-explanatory. Finally, he gave a shout-out to California coastal Native Americans by way of a small image depicting the Chumash in a Tomol.

8th Grade Social Studies: United States Ecoregions and Geomorphic Provinces


As I’ve mentioned, my children are working on a unit study of the ecoregions and geomorphic provinces of the United States (that would narrow down to simply the “regions” of California for my 4th grader…). And though we are covering every single one of these in study, I am only requiring my oldest two (8th and 11th grade) to create academic scrapbook cards for those they find most interesting.

So far, they’ve both chosen to do a card on the Great Basin (they’ve traveled through it many times and we even lived within the region for 5 years. It seems their familiarity with the area makes it more interesting to them than regions they’ve never seen in person).

My 8th grader chose to create a card for the Appalacian Mountains, as well. So the photo above is her first completed page. Before our study of the ecoregions and geomorphic provinces is finished, she’ll be required to fill 2 more pages – whether she chooses one region per page or several, that’s up to her – as will my 11th grader.

Note: The written “facts” included on each region’s card may seem minimal. Our study of each region has been (and will continue to be) quite substantial. The kids are being exposed to a lot more information than what is exhibited in these books. However, I feel strongly about letting these projects be about what interests them, as opposed to becoming nothing more than a tangible artifact of information bits that someone *else* told them should be important to them.  If that’s all we were shooting for, I’d just hand them a bunch of questions on worksheets.

As a result, the facts highlighted on their cards are simply the ones they themselves found most interesting.

After all, my goal in this project is for it to be meaningful those doing it – instead of being just “proof of work” to the one assigning it.

Have I mentioned that I am very unschooly at heart?  :)

11th Grade: United States Ecoregions & Geomorphic Provinces


My 8th and 11th graders are both studying U.S. History this year. As I’ve mentioned, we school year-round which means the kids transition into their new grades at the beginning of Summer.  So technically, they’ve each just begun their new school year.

Our summer schedule is generally very light. Usually some math maintenance and whatever else is of interest (one summer we built, planted, and grew an organic vegetable garden, etc). This summer they have swimming practice three days per week, so as far as academics go, we are only focusing on social studies (aside from some science-related field trips we’ll be taking).

As with my 4th grader who is studying California history this year, I decided to start them off with a look at the geomorphic provinces (one difference being that my older kids are covering the ecoregions as well as the provinces).

This page is my 11th grader’s first attempt. He’s not overly-enthusiastic about this approach yet (what 16-year-old guy do you know who doesn’t think scrapbooking is stupid???), but I still feel he’s retaining more info this way than when he uses the standard textbook/worksheet combo (which, by the way, he hates). We’ll see. If he needs to switch back to the other method, that’s okay.


Student Pages for California State Regions


Taking cues from Project Life and other pocket-scrapbooking systems makes creating educational scrapbook pages with multiple (but connected) focus points a breeze.

We’re an eclectic homeschooling family and (technically) my youngest transitions into 4th grade now (we study all year long, which means my kids make their grade transitions at the beginning of Summer). 4th grade in California means studying our great state.

I decided to begin our CA study with the geomorphic provinces (also known simply as “regions” in classrooms across the state).  After a few days of studying maps, photos, and literature pertaining to each region, we go online and my son picks out multiple images that go along with the information he has found most interesting concerning that region (plus a photo representing the native american tribe originally found there. There isn’t one for the Klamath card because he already posted a photo of the Modoc on another card and they were actually a Klamath tribe…). He then fills a half-sized index card with hand-written sentences regarding those things he found most interesting, as well. Then he designs that region’s card with the photos, a title tag, his sentence card, and a map which has the relevant region shaded in.

This is the first page he did (he had some help from our Slice machine for the title letters…). By the time he’s done studying the provinces, he will have this page, plus one whole spread (2 pages facing each other). Creating the pages one card at a time makes the project far less overwhelming. My son is SO excited to work on and complete each new card!



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