Resources of Virginia

Resources of Virginia

This blog contains information about useful books, online activities, and relevant materials for teaching about Virginia’s natural resources.  Although Virginia Science SOL 4.8 explicitly references this content, the material overlaps with many elementary grades and SOLS.  The texts and websites, however, were chosen for students between grades 3-5.  If anyone has knowledge of texts, activities, or teacher materials that they believe would be helpful to my readers please comment at the bottom of the post.

Text Annotations 

Virginia Facts and Symbols
by Bill McAuliffe

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“Easy-to-read text covers major state symbols such as the state flag, seal, bird, tree, flower, animal, and more.  A “Fast Facts” section highlights the state’s capital city, largest city, physical size, population, natural resources, farm products, and primary manufactured goods.  Generally, a map or photo faces a right hand page of information written in short paragraphs.  Photos are current and simple, featuring the animal, flower, or famous building, with a modest caption.  The series has been updated to reflect new census data but otherwise duplicates the earlier editions.  A concluding page features three “Places to Visit,” to give readers a sense of what features or sites the state is proud of or known for (Williamsburg, Luray Caverns, and the Mariners’ Museum).  In the end matter, other factual nonfiction books are recommended, a glossary rounds up five or six specialized words, an omnibus website managed by the publisher gives access to further facts, and a very short index is included.  The series encourages report writers to locate information quickly and the layout makes comparisons among states easy.  This book is a good beginning resource for highlighting a state and its features.” – Review from Children’s Literature Comprehensive Database

Buy it here

Dogwoods: The Genus Cornus
by Paul Cappiello

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This title is a great source of information for Virginia’s state flower — the dogwood. The book features the best photographs of dogwoods that one can find.  Too dense and technical for the elementary reader; nonetheless, many sections can be used for reading aloud.  The included glossary is a great guide for horticulture-related vocabulary.

 Buy it here

 Cardinals
By Patrick Merrick

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Patrick Merrick’s book provides students with superb photos and pertinent information for the Virginia state bird.

“K-Gr 3-Children will flock to these attractive titles.  Brilliant, full-color close-ups, many from the National Audubon Collection, appear on every spread and are accompanied by interesting and useful facts.  The information goes beyond common knowledge, covering the birds’ life cycles from birth to maturity.  The photos provide a larger-than-life scale so that it is possible to see minute details of birds in the nest, feeding their young, and in their natural habitats.  The large font and wide margins make these books easy to read. – Kim Donius, Alfred-Almond Central School, Almond, NY.” — taken from Amazon.com

Buy it here

Good Night Virginia
by Adam Gamble

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This book covers a vast array of topics, particularly in regard to Virginia’s resources and geography.  Additionally, information is blended seemlessly into the illustrations. Adam Gamble writes with simple sentences which are easy to comprehend, yet full of useful facts.  A great resource for your classroom– highly recommended!

Buy it here

Virginia Geography
by Bentley Boyd

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 Written in the style of a comic book, Bentley Boyd’s work is accessible to the young reader.  Do not let the brevity of the work fool you; this work is full of information regarding the resources of Virginia.  Students will learn while reading; however, they will be enjoying themselves too much to realize.

Buy it here

Web Annotations (for Students!)

What Is a Watershed?
Watch how watersheds are formed! 

This website gives a easily comprehended explanation and illustration of how a watershed is formed.  For students who struggle to learn without visualization, this website will prove invaluable for VA Science SOL 4.8.  The students will enjoy watching the virtual formation of a watershed.

Digging For Words
Play here

A fun crossword activity for students.  The words are all related to minerals, rocks, and ores and the activity acts as a prefect supplement (i.e., a fun homework assignment) for a lesson on soil and/or rocks.

Discover How Rocks are Formed
Watch here!

The website has illustrations showing how rocks are formed over long periods of time.  Easier to understand than a textbook, and certainly more fun!

Virginia Trivia-Online Quiz
Sporcle.com, Attempt the quiz

Sporcle is an online website which allows users to generate their own quizzes.  The particular quiz linked above is focused on Virginia trivia.  Although the quiz is not devoted solely to Virginia’s resources, it nonetheless includes questions about the state’s geography, animals, plants, water resources, forestry, and more.  The site is kid-friendly, interactive, easy-to-use, and free.

Dumptown Game
Play the game

The game, created by the EPA, allows players to see how small changes in lifestyle can make huge differences in our society.  As Dumptown’s new City Manager it is your job to allocate available resources (such as recycle bins) to cut down on the trash accumulating in the city.  For students who enjoy playing video games, this online game will provide a lot of fun and learning.

 Additional Resources (for Teachers!)

Greener Loudoun

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This website, written by a native of Loudoun County, VA, includes numerous articles on how we can live in a more environmentally conscious manner (and why we should).  Whenever he is unable to write on a topic he finds pertinent, he links to some other credible site which does.  What makes this website so valuable is the fact that it is written by a citizen of Virginia — all of the articles focus on the impact of climate change on a local level.  Climate science is difficult even for experts to understand; therefore, it is all the more impressive that this site enables its readers to understand the effects of a changing climate with a Virginia-centric bias.  I would highly recommend teachers to skim this website for local examples to use within their lessons — it will make the material more applicable to students.

Rockingham County Public Schools

This school’s website provides a wealth of resources for teaching VA Science SOL 4.8.  Of particular interest are the interactive smartboard activities which can be downloaded and used in your classroom.

 Virginia Department of Environmental Quality 

A dense, informative website with lots of data about Virginia’s forest.  For up-to-date statistics and easy-to-comprehend charts it is impossible to beat this source.  Of course, the information will need to be adapted to an elementary level.

Also, check out the VA DEQ’s guide to minerals and energy resources.

Virginia Native Plant Society 

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The Virginia Native Plant Society provides conservation policies and easy to use brochures.  I recommend contacting the society to set up a visit to the University of Virginia’s Blandy Experimental Farm located in north-western Virginia — a fun, free, and informative trip for students.  (Everyone within reasonable proximity should visit the balloon festival at Blandy in October of every year.  There are massive amounts of activities for young students and excellent regional food tasting for adults.)