More Lesson Ideas
Writing Any time during the year you could have the students write letters to Owney, to other classes involved in this project, or to family members about Owney. Have the students pretend to tell Owney about the stories they are reading in class or what they are learning in math.
The National Postal Museum
The National Postal Museum offers a Postal Pack for educators that includes a project called "Help Owney Get Home" as well as other mail related lessons for grades K-6. If you want it, you have to sent a request through "snail mail" or fax, but if you go to their site they have a form that can be printed. Click here to order the Postal Pack.
US Postal Service
Our US Postal Service is very "kid friendly." They have inexpensive stamp collecting information, and products. The also have a web page at www.USPS.gov that has, among other things, letters from past presidents. Click here to go to the Postal Service.
Flags and Symbols
Iris Pressman, from Maryland wrote about a site that might be useful. You can see which stars on the US flag represent each state. Then you can click to see each of the state flags. Click here to learn about flags.
Cindy Newton sent several good sites for state symbols and information.
Click here to learn more about the 50 states.
50 States is a fun collection of state facts, trivia and links. If you are trying to memorize the state capitals or postal abbreviations, you can quiz yourself from the list of states on the home page. To see the answers, linger your mouse over the manila folder next to each state. Other quirky highlights include a link to each state's most famous permanent residents (those in graves), links to each state's license plates (current and historical) and live Web cams from each state. Click here for 50 states.
The purpose of this Library of Congress site is "to have fun with history while learning at the same time." Each state is introduced with a single paragraph overview, but the meat of the site is the tales called Local Legacies. Last year, in celebration of the Library's 200th birthday, more than 1,300 events, crafts, and customs representing traditional American community life were documented with stories and photographs. America's Library is an online collection of these Local Legacies. While you're poking around, be sure to try the Treasure Hunt.
Click here for America's Library: Explore the States.
The site was not working at the time I tried it. Here is the URL that Cindy sent me. http://www.americaslibrary.gov/cgi-bin/page.cgi/es
Powered by Word Book, Discovery School State Assembly is the perfect place to begin your state research report. In addition to sections on Land/Climate, Economy, Government, History, People and a Visitor's Guide, you'll get an interactive state map, and plenty of tables summarizing the state's statistics. For best printing results, look for the "Print This Article" button below the article outline. And just like the print encyclopedia, each state includes links to related World Book articles, study questions, and a list of recommended books. Click here for Discovery School's State Assembly.
When you need statistics about the American population, who Œya gonna call? The US Census Bureau, of course. Although created specifically for kids, many may find these easy-to-access statistics useful. Simply choose a state to view Fun Facts from the 1990 and 2000 census neatly arranged in a single table. Did you know that during this time frame, the average age of a Californian increased from thirty-one years old to thirty-three. If only I could have been more average, I'd have only aged two years that decade!
Click here for Factfinder.
"Where is Louisiana? Where is Rhode Island?" This timed map game is fun for all ages, whether you are just learning the locations of the states, or are playing to beat your best time. It took me four minutes, fifty-six seconds to finish the game and yes, I did make a few mistakes. You'll find additional games (such as Capital Field Trip and US Jigsaw Puzzle) by searching the Game Guide for Geography at various grade levels.
Click here for Funschool: Find the State.
Maps and Geography
Fred Roemer wrote about these web sites. The first one has some great interactive net projects going, some of which help kids understand maps, longitude and latitude, etc.
http://www.gsn.org/ (The Global Schoolhouse) Click here to go to the Global Schoolhouse.
This page lists many "Maps" resources:
Click to go to Maps.
Don't forget National Geographic's excellent section on geography
Click here to go to the National Geographic page.
Here's an excellent resource to share with parents. Geography at home,
at about a fourth grade level (drawback: made in 1996):
Click here to go to Geography at Home.
Mapping software that is available:
Neighborhood Map Machine, Publisher: Tom Snyder Productions
Click here to go to Neighborhood Map Machine.
Phone 1: 800-342-0236
Phone 2: 617-926-6000
Copyright Date: 1998
Suggested Price: $79.95
Platform: Win 95, Win 3.1, Mac OS (CD-ROM)
Grade: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5
Teaches: geography: maps
The link below will take you to results of a search for map software at
the Children's Software Finder. Because it's a long URL, you may have to
copy it and paste it into your browser.
click here to search Children's Software Finder.
The Children's Software Finder's main page is:
Click here to go to Children's Software Finder's main page.
Bulletin Boards and Door Decorations
Bulletin boards are an obvious extension. A large map of the United States would be very beneficial. You could post the postcards you've received around it.
Ginger Connolly suggested a neat door decoration contest. You could post the heading, "Where in the World is Our Mascot Owney?" You could hint at where he is by posting a picture of Owney with some symbol from the state he should be at. For instance, Owney could wear a lei and grass skirt when he's in Hawaii or hold some cheese when he's in Wisconsin. Since this hint came from Ginger in Georgia, I think we should have Owney hold out a nice, juicy Georgia peach when Owney visits her.
Music Any patriotic music would be appropriate to use with this project. There are at least two tapes that incorporate the names of the states in alphabetical order. My daughter learned Fifty, Nifty United States from the Thirteen Original Colonies. That was nearly 10 years ago and I can still sing the states in alphabetical order through Ohio.
Field Trips One year we took a walking field trip to the post office to mail Owney. It was fun tour, and it helped the kids see that Owney actually was traveling with the mail. I don't know if a field trip with Owney would be feasible with this arrangement. Field trips take advance planning, and you wouldn't have a firm date for receiving Owney. You would probably have to have the permission slips all ready to go and make the last minute arrangements when Owney arrived.
If you live near any interesting historical sites that would make a wonderful field trip, too. This year, we do not want to slow Owney's progress or he won't make it to all 50 states and the president.
Guest Speakers Stamp collectors would be a natural extension for this project. Students could bring in their own stamp collections (or any other collections they have).
Anyone who has traveled to other states could share their pictures and travel experiences.
Anyone have other ideas?
Owney "worked" for the post office. He even guarded a sack of mail that had fallen off the train. Study other working dogs. Read about Balto who was the lead dog in a team that carried medicine to Nome Alaska. This race to Nome is commemorated each February/March with the Iditarod race. Betty Foster suggested this connection with Balto. She has a Unit plan for the Iditarod on the Apple Learning Interchange. Click here to go to Betty Foster's unit.
Dogs are use to herd sheep, catch bad guys as K-9 police, help the firemen, sniff out bombs and drugs, search for lost people, lead the blind, assist paraplegics, call 911 to help diabetics, and even detect cancer. I suppose you could even justify watching the movie Babe to learn about shepherding dogs.
Another connection could be a study of transportation. Owney used to travel with the mail on trains. How is mail transported now? Students could brainstorm ways to transport mail. Did you know small boats are still used to deliver mail? They could then brainstorm other ways to move around. The possibilities are endless here. They could compare costs and speed of various forms of transport. They could graph how they move (air, ground, or water - wheels, sleds, or wings) I'll leave you get inspiration. If you have resources you want to share, I'll pass them on.
Collector Pins Last year 31 states put collector pins from their state on Owney's pack. It sure was wonderful when Owney returned covered in pins. We could do this too, but it would be much better for the last states than for the first ones. Any ideas on this? The nice thing about the post cards is that we can all share the experience equally.