Alaska – A Mini Unit Study

This mini unit on ALASKA uses the cross curricular approach to education. There are several activities from different academics subjects for you to choose from. One of the most important things is to have fun!

Lying to the northwest of Canada, Alaska, the 49th state, ranks first in size. Juneau, its capital, is the nation’s 2nd largest city in area – over 3,000 square miles – but only has about 30,000 people. Alaska touches no other state. Instead, it is bordered on the north by the Arctic Ocean, on the south by the Pacific Ocean, on the easy by Canada, and on the west by the Bering Sea. At one point it is only 51 miles across the Bering Straight to Russia.

When its lands were first bough from Russia by U.S. Secretary of State William Seward, for about two cents per acre, the purchase was known as "Seward's Folly." Since then, Alaska has provided the United States with billions of dollars worth of products, including oil, wood, fur, and fish.

Below are some activities to help you study ALASKA. You may choose to do all, some, or none of the activities. You can also alter the activities to better suit your individual child’s needs. Some of these activities overlap each other, choose the one you think that you and the children will enjoy most. The main point of this unit is to make learning about ALASKA fun and enjoyable for all who are participating.

Alaska's State Flag

Create a State “Infodesk”:

Before you begin this unit you may want to set up a research area. Place a desk or table in front of a bulletin board area. This will be where you can place relevant books, magazines, photographs, posters, newspaper articles, maps, scrapbooks, games, puzzles, computer software, task cards, travel brochures, etc. that you collect.

Print a blank map of the state, or draw one on tag board, that you can place on the bulletin board. As you study the political and physical features of the state, have the children fill in the name of the state capital, large cities, and major geographical features. Color the map using different shades for varying elevations.

Place a chart next to the map called “State Facts.” List any information on here that you would like to be able to find at a quick glance. Have the children fill this chart up as the unit progresses.

Build a Mini Museum

Build a mini museum to exhibit any artifacts or memorabilia about the state you are working on. Label the items with a date and a brief explanation of their history. Also display any state maps and projects made by the children.

Create a Unit Portfolio

During this unit, you can have the child(ren) prepare a portfolio to keep their notes and completed projects in. Include an outline map of the state or a copy of the state flag to go on the cover of the portfolio. Have them include the date they begin and complete the unit.

Facts-At-A-Glance

Use any or all of the following sub-topics to gather information on the state. This can even be used as your “State Facts” sheet mentioned in “Infodesk” section above.

1. State Name:
2. State Nickname:
3. Population:
4. Rank in population:
5. Total Area:
6. Rank in size:
7. Location:
8. Climate:
9. Topography:
10. Capital City:
11. Industry:
12. Manufactured Goods:
13. Agricultural Crops:
14. Livestock:
15. Fishing:
16. Mining:
17. State Motto:
18. State Flower:
19. State Bird:
20. State Tree:
21. State Song:
22. Date State Entered Union:
23. Tourist Attractions:
24. Historical Facts:
25. Largest Cities
§ By area
§ By population
26. State Preserve:
27. State Seashore:
28. State Monuments:
29. State Parkway:
30. State Wonders
§ Waterfalls
§ Deserts
§ Rivers
§ Volcanoes
31. Average January Temperature:
32. Average July Temperature:
33. Endangered Species:
34. National Parks:
35. National Historical Parks:
36. National Memorials:
37. National Historical Sites:
38. Famous People:
39. Amazing Facts:
40. U.S. Representatives:
41. U.S. Senators:
42. Electoral Votes:
43. Governor:
44. Annual Events:
45. Name and address of state’s tourist information center: Travel Alaska

When you have completed gathering the above information, you could do use the facts to:
§ Create a “State A to Z Fact Book” with a person, place, or fact for each letter of the alphabet.
§ Create a “State Book of Facts” by cutting paper into the shape of the state and writing one interesting fact along with an illustration on each page. Bind the pages together in a cover of the same shape as the pages.
§ Use the facts to help with other activities in this unit.

Brainstorming

List what you know before you begin the unit and what you would like to learn during the unit and then when the unit is over what you learned throughout the unit.

Information Scavenger Hunt:

As an ongoing part of this unit, have a “state scavenger hunt” to answer questions about the state. State archives, history books, museums, artifacts, photographs, old newspapers and magazines, and experts on various topics of interest will help gather an overall picture of the state.

Set up categories (i.e., in the beginning, early immigrants, statehood, geography, famous people, etc.) and provide containers (i.e., folders, boxes, etc.) to keep the material and information you gather in to keep them organized.

Alaska Volcano Observatory

State Reports:

Information you gather on your “scavenger hunt” can be used to prepare reports on the state. The complexity and method of presentation of the reports will depend on the level of your child(ren).

Historical Timeline:

As you work on this unit, gather information, you may wish to create a state timeline so that you can see important events in the states’ history presented in a chronological format.

The First Inhabitants:

The first inhabitants of the United States were Native Americans, also called Indians. Native Americans were the descendants of nomadic tribes who crossed the Bering Strait’s land bridge between Russia and what is now the state of Alaska thousands of years ago. When Columbus sailed, there were approximately 350 Native American tribes in North America.

Determine what tribes lived this the state originally. Gather as much information on this/these tribe(s) as possible. Explore both the history of the tribe and life for the tribe members. Some questions you may wish to consider in this area are:

§ Was the state named after an Native American tribe or some aspect of Indian history or culture?
§ As European settlers arrived in the state, what happened to the Native American population and why?
§ How did the Native American culture influence the state’s culture?
§ Describe life of the Native Americans in the state today.
§ What problems do Native Americans face in the state today?


The origin of Alaska's state name is based on an Aleut word "alaxsxaq" literally meaning object toward which the action of the sea is directed, or more simply, the mainland.

To enhance this part of your study, you may wish to construct a shoe box diorama of an Indian village as it would have been long ago. Find out what their particular dwellings looked like (i.e., wigwam, adobe bricks, log cabin, etc.). What would the vegetation have looked like?

The First Pioneers:

Arriving in America was just the beginning for many immigrants. Many settlers began their treks in different ways, using different means of transportation, and coming and going in many different directions.

Who were the first pioneers to arrive in the state? When did they come? Why did they come? How did they get there?

Use encyclopedias, history books, internet search engines, etc. to answer the above questions and to find out about particular groups that immigrated to the state and when.

One question you might find interesting to answer is to find out whether you have any family or family roots (also known as genealogy) in this state. [For an interesting mini unit on Genealogy check out http://www.easyfunschool.com/article1099.html.

State History:

Find a description of how the state applied for and achieved statehood.

Alaska's admission to the union

What were the main reasons that this state applied for statehood? Identify the possible political, social, and economic reasons why a territory applied for statehood.

Historical Monuments and Natural Wonders:

Research how historical signposts and markers are used. Find several examples in your own area. Historical monuments are sometimes marked with signposts or even become the centerpiece of a state or national park.

Alaska Highway Markers

Now that you know what a historical place is, research some of the historical places and monuments in this state. You may wish to check the National Park System website at http://www.nationalparks.org/index.html for help in this area. The URL http:// www.nps.gov may also prove useful as soon at the National Park Service reopens their sites.

Alaska State Parks
Alaska Tourism Information

States are not only filled with historical monuments and sites, but with natural wonders. For example, Arizona has the Petrified Forest, Kentucky has Mammoth Cave, and Florida has the Everglades. Look at a map, an encyclopedia or atlas, or various travel books and brochures to find the natural wonders of the state you are researching. Choose one or more of the following activities to complete:

* Choose one natural place and write a descriptive essay explaining what they like about that particular place. Create a picture to accompany the essay.
* Create a mobile with pictures showing the highlights from their chosen natural place.
* Collect postcards of natural wonders from the state or make your own picture postcards.


Famous People:

Some of the people who have made great contributions to our country may have lived and/or worked in the state you are researching. You may wish to make a set of flash cards using tag board or index cards to complete this section.

Make photocopies of pictures of famous people from the state.
Glue the picture to one side of a 3” x 5” piece of tag board or an index card.
Be sure to include the individual’s name, the dates that they lived, and a list of the individual’s accomplishments on the side opposite of the picture.

Make up your own games using your homemade flashcards.

Famous Alaskans

State Maps:

Land Form Maps

Making state maps of various kinds is an excellent way to learn about land forms, locations, and state resources. A “land form” map shows the shape and height of the land. It shows mountains, plateaus, hills, plains, rivers, etc.

Create your own landform map of the state’s geographical features.

1. Determine the state’s features by looking up a state map in an atlas, an encyclopedia, or a geography book.
2. Make a landform key at the bottom of your blank map form. Include symbols for each of the different landform types in your state.
3. Color in the areas in your state to match the key. Your key should be color-coded. Make the highest land form the darkest color and the lowest land form the lightest color. You can use colored pencils, crayons, markers, etc.
4. Label the large rivers and mountain ranges with their names.

You could also make a relief map of the state. A relief map is a 3D version of a landform map. You could use paper mache or salt dough to make your own relief map.

State Resource Map:

Resources are things that people use every day. Resources are found and developed from the land itself, or made into other things we use.

1. What resource or manufactured good is your state best known for?
2. How does this resource or product affect the state’s economy?
3. How does the state’s resources/products affect how people live?
4. What products from neighboring states are used by the state?

Make a product map:

1. Look in an atlas, encyclopedia, or geography book to find a map showing the location of products raised or produced in the state.
2. Create a product map showing where these products are grown or manufactured in the state. Use a symbol key to represent the products on your map.
3. Show important cities situated near these resources on your map.

Make a mineral map:

1. Look in an atlas, encyclopedia, or geography book to find a map showing the location of minerals in the state.
2. Create a minerals map showing what minerals are mined in the state, if any. Minerals are natural substances obtained by mining such as coal, ore, salt, or stone. Use a symbol key to represent the minerals.
3. Show important cities situated near these resources on your map.

Names, Nicknames, Mottos, and Songs:

Each state’s name has its origin in some part of American history. Some states were named after explorers, and some after monarchs, kings, or presidents. Many states’ names have Indian or Spanish origins. Every state also has a nickname, a motto, and a state song.

Find out this state’s name, nickname, motto, and song and then find the origins of each. A great internet search engine that can help with this is www.google.com . An online encyclopedia and/or a printed encyclopedia or atlas can help with this research as well.

State of Alaska Online

State Bird:

Each state has adopted one bird that represents their state. Find out what this state’s bird is and then find out the following information:

1. name of state bird
2. bird’s habitat
3. colors and markings of this bird
4. food of choice for this bird
5. enemies this bird may have
6. protective behaviors
7. size
8. type of nest
9. egg size and shape, as well as incubation time
10. migration habits
11. beak shape and function
12. feet type
13. adaptations to environment
14. songs and calls
15. other interesting behaviors
16. endangered or not
17. how it became the state bird

Draw a picture of the state bird and write a paragraph about what you have learned. Add this to your unit portfolio.

Alaska's State Bird

State Tree and State Flower

Every state has adopted a tree and a flower to represent it. Find out the tree and flower this state chose.

1. Sketch and color a picture of both the state tree and state flower.
2. Label the parts of each.
3. Find out if the tree or flower is on an endangered list, and if yes, what is being done to protect it.
4. If possible, visit a botanical garden to see a real, live example of the tree or flower. Or, look at seed and gardening catalogs to find examples of these.

Alaska's State Flower

Endangered Species:

Is this state home to any endangered species? If yes, what are they? What is being done in this state to protect the endangered species? Where are these endangered species located?

You could make your own flashcards on the endangered species of this state by drawing or pasting a picture of the plant or animal on the front of an index card and on the reverse, writing some descriptive information.

Weather

Weather of Alaska

Every state is affected by conditions of climate and geography. States experience floods, earthquakes, sinkholes, erosion, hurricanes, tornadoes, hailstorms, firestorms, blizzards, drought, mudslides, volcanic activity, and electrical storms.

Make a list different weather types that affect the state you are researching. Look in newspapers, travel brochures and books, tourism sites, etc. to find this information out.

1. Make a table of the state’s average monthly rainfall, then record the information on a bar graph.
2. Make a table of the state’s average monthly temperature, then record the information on a line graph.
3. List various severe weather found in this state and any state-wide plans for dealing with it. For instance, Florida has hurricane evacuation routes in flood prone areas.

Craft:

Floating Crystals
Make Your Own Stickers
Activities for Winter for the Teel Family


How to Build an Igloo


Recipe:

Kick-the-Can Ice Cream

ALASKA SALMON BAKE WITH PECAN CRUNCH COATING

2 tbsp. Dijon-style mustard
2 tbsp. melted butter
4 tsp. honey
¼ cup fresh bread crumbs
¼ cup finely chopped pecans or walnuts
2 tsp. chopped parsley
4 (4 to 6 oz. each) Alaska Salmon fillets or steaks, thawed if necessary
salt & black pepper
lemon wedges

Mix together mustard, butter and honey in a small bowl; set aside. Mix together bread crumbs, pecans and parsley in a small bowl; set aside. Season each salmon fillet or steak with salt and pepper. Place on a lightly greased baking sheet or broiling pan. Brush each fillet or steak with mustard-honey mixture. Pat top of each fillet or steak with bread crumb mixture. Bake at 400 degrees Fahrenheit for 10 minutes per inch of thickness, measure at thickest part, or until salmon just flakes when tested with a fork. Serve with lemon wedges. Makes 4 servings.

Baked Alaska

Ingredients

1 (9 ounce) package yellow cake mix
1/4 cup white sugar
1/3 cup water
1 (1 ounce) square HERSHEY'S ® Unsweetened Baking Chocolate, melted
1 egg
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/4 cup water
1 quart strawberry ice cream
1/2 cup cold water
1 tablespoon meringue powder
1/2 cup white sugar, divided


Directions

1. Heat oven to 350 F. Grease and flour 8-inch round pan. In medium bowl, stir together cake mix and sugar; add 1/3 cup water, melted chocolate and egg, beating until blended. Add oil and remaining 1/4 cup water; beat until smooth and well blended. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 15 to 20 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool 10 minutes; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Cover; freeze until firm.

2. Meanwhile, line 2-1/2 quart dome-shaped bowl with foil. Soften ice cream and pack evenly into prepared bowl. Cover; freeze until firm.

3. MERINGUE: In large bowl, stir together 1/2 cup cold water, 1 tablespoon meringue powder and 1/4 cup sugar. Beat 5 minutes until blended; gradually add additional 1/4 cup sugar, beating until meringue is stiff and dry. Use immediately.

4. Heat oven to 450 F. Cover wooden board or cookie sheet with foil. Center frozen cake layer on foil; invert and unmold ice cream onto top. Peel off foil from ice cream. Spread meringue evenly over entire surface, covering holes and sealing edges down to foil. Bake 3 to 5 minutes or just until lightly browned. Remove from oven; serve immediately. Or, cover with cake saver lid (not foil or plastic wrap) and immediately return to freezer; serve frozen.

Map:

North! To Alaska


Map of Alaksa


Blank Map of Alaska


History Links:

Alaska Office of History and Archaelogy
http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/parks/oha_web/

Alaska Department of Natural Resources
http://www.dnr.state.ak.us/

Alaska State History
http://www.allsands.com/History/Places/alaskastatehis_svf_gn.htm

Alaska History
http://www.juneau.com/guide/history/

Student Information on Alaska
http://www.dced.state.ak.us/tourism/student.htm

Alaska State Symbols
http://www.50states.com/alaska.htm

The 49th State
http://xroads.virginia.edu/~CAP/BARTLETT/49state.html

On-Line Lessons:

Alaska History Toolbox
http://www.kpbsd.k12.ak.us/akhistory/aktools.htm

Explore Alaska
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson095.shtml

Alaska History Lesson
http://www.proteacher.com/090102.shtml

Mr. Donn’s Website
http://members.aol.com/MrDonnHistory/States.html

Alaska Lessons
http://school.discovery.com/lessonplans/programs/rediscoveringamerica-thealaskahighway/

Alaska from EdHelper.com
http://www.edhelper.com/cat128.htm

Alaska State Unit Study
http://homeschooling.about.com/library/weekly/aa122899.htm

Alaska Mini Unit
http://fga.freac.fsu.edu/academy/k1ak.htm

Iditarod
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson103.shtml

Arctic Animals of Alaska:
http://score.rims.k12.ca.us/activity/alaska/

Alaska Unit:
http://www.lessonplanspage.com/SSLAAlaskaUnit1IntroWithBookK3.htm

Project Wild:
http://www.state.ak.us/adfg/wildlife/geninfo/educate/pw_home.htm

Mini Unit:
http://fga.freac.fsu.edu/academy/k1ak.htm

N is for Northern Lights:
http://www.teelfamily.com/activities/northernlights/

Last Frontier State:
http://homeschooling.about.com/education/homeschooling/library/weekly/aa122899.htm

Denali
http://www.pbs.org/edens/denali/index.html

Women in Alaska’s History
http://www.thinkquest.org/library/lib/site_sum_outside.html?tname=11313&url=11313/

Alaska Native Curriculum:
http://www.alaskool.org/

KidsKonnect:
http://www.kidskonnect.com/Alaska/AlaskaHome.html

Alaska is Bear Country:
http://www.geography.unr.edu/GAIN/materials/alaska/bear_country.html

Alaska Scavenger Hunt:
http://www.education-world.com/a_lesson/lesson095.shtml

Snow Theme:
http://www.teelfamily.com/activities/snow/links.html

Science Project:

Alum Crystals
Cream of Tartar Crystals
Epsom Salt Crystals
Salt and Vinegar Crystals


Alaska Printables:

Animal Maze
Alaska's State Flag
Alaska Map & Quiz
Word Search
Alaskan Dinosaur Tracks
Alaska .pdf/Adobe Acrobat file
Alaska Printable Coloring Pages
Safety Bear
Alaska Sea Food .pdf file
Alaska Coloring Pages
Alaska Animals
Alaska Kids' Coloring Book
State Symbols


Suggested Reading:

Clymer, Theodore, The Travels of Atunga. Little, Brown and Company, 1973.
Damjan, Mischa, Atuk. Pantheon Books. Random House, 1966.
Fejes, Claire, Enuk, My Son . Pantheon Books, 1969.
Glubok, Shirley, The Art of the Eskimo. Harper and Row, 1964.
Harrison, Ted, A Northern Alphabet: A is for Arctic. Tundra, 1987.
Hirsh, Stephanie A. and Wiggins, Karen T., World Geography Today. Holt, Rinehart and Winston, 1989.
Jeeness, Aylette, Dwellers of the Tundra. Mac Millan Company, 1970.
McDermott, Beverly B., Sedna . The Viking Press, 1975.
Moy, Michael., Animal Addresses. Longman Cheshire, 1992.
Osiniki, Alice, The Eskimo: The Inuit and Yupik People. Children's Press, 1985.
Pitslolak, Peter, Escape from Death. Delacorte Press/Seymour Lawrence, 1977.
Stone, Lynn M., The Arctic. Children's Press, 1985.
Rogers, Jean, Runaway Mittens. Greenwillow Books, 1988.
Ryder, Joanne, White Bear, Ice Bear. Morrow, 1989.
Shannon, George, Sea Gifts. David R. Godine, 1989.
Standiford, Natalie, The Bravest Dog Ever. Random House, 1989.
Yue, Charlotte and David, The Igloo. Houghton Mifflin Company, 1988.
De Armond, Dale, Berry Woman's Children. Greenwillow Books, 1985.
Kawagley, Dolores, Yupik Stories. Stanway/Wheelwright Printing Company, 1975.
Oman, Lela K., Eskimo Legends. Alaska Methodist University Press, 1975.


The famous daily shows you important history that happened on this day.
























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