Lesson Key Facts
- Grade(s): 3, 4, 5
- Subject(s): Drama, English Language Arts, Social Studies
- Duration of lesson: 55 minutes
- Author(s): Haley Flanders Anderson
Note: Make sure you have your materials and enough room for the students to move. Prepare the students beforehand with knowledge of maps and vocabulary relevant to geography topics such as the following:
- Third Grade: Communities, biomes, ecosystems, cities, countries, states, and indigenous America
- Fourth Grade: Utah political and topographical geography
- Fifth Grade: United States political and topographical geography
Divide the students into groups of four or five. Hand each group a map/atlas of current geography topics being studied (topographical or political).
Teacher: We are going to play “I Spy.” Each group will spot a location on the map, and the rest of us will try to locate it based on your group’s clue. For example, a group can say, “I spy a county that starts with U,” or “I spy a mountain region to the west.”
Play as many rounds as you like.
Teacher: What did you enjoy most about this game? What was difficult? Did you recognize any geographic locations from our past lessons? Similar to the game we just played, we are going to find geographic locations and then create and perform a scavenger hunt scene.
Teacher: How would you describe a scavenger hunt? Has anyone been on one before? What did you do?
Write down student responses on the whiteboard, including definitions of a hunt, where they hunted, the goal of their hunt, and so on.
Teacher: Each group will fill out a worksheet for the scavenger hunt scene. A narrator in your group will read from this as the rest of the group acts it out. You will choose five locations we have been studying and will be given three cards to create your scene. Write down what you hope the prize will be at the end of the hunt and what you actually receive. The prize could be the same as or different from what you hoped. At three of the locations, your group will use a card. Your group will write and perform an action response to the card, which then leads to your next location. For example, if your card has a picture of a robot on it, you could build a robot, turn someone into a robot, or perhaps find a robot. The robot can say, “Go to ____,” giving direction to the next location.
Hold up a handful of picture cards.
Hand out a worksheet and three picture cards to each group. Give them time to write and rehearse. Give them access to maps as a resource.
Teacher: Your hope for a prize is the inciting incident that gives you a goal that begin the action in the story, and the climax is whether you receive that prize in the end. These elements are part of a story arc that turns your hunt into a story that can be acted out. As you write, include words that answer the six storytelling questions: who, what, when, where, why, and how. Use words that engage the senses and follow a steady story sequence. For the responses to the cards, choose action verbs that will be fun to perform, like jump, build, roll, or crash. When acting, animate your voice and body to create unique characters and effectively demonstrate the action verbs.
Invite the class to gather back up and watch each group perform. It is best to number the groups beforehand, so the scene transitions run smoothly. Remind the students of the importance of being a respectful audience. Encourage the actors to hold up their cards as they find them during the scene, so the audience can see them.
Teacher: What did you like about this activity? What did you learn? Did any groups use the same locations your group did? Has anyone visited or lived in these locations? What was the experience like to create and listen to fictional stories that contain real nearby geography? Did your scavenger hunt tell a story and use the elements of story? How did your group work together? What did you learn about working together as a group?
Possible Extension Activity
Make a list of all the locations mentioned in the scenes. Have the students do research to learn more about the five locations that they chose and then present geography reports.
The basic structure of the lesson can be used in a variety of ways, such as replacing the location with a time period in history, a part of the water cycle, or a cloud type. Reinforcing concepts and vocabulary while helping students to use their imagination and the elements of story are conducive to authentic learning.