Tour the United States and travel the countries of the world each week with the River Houses. Our Sunday States & Countries posts will point the way.
Many homeschoolers like to review the U.S. states and the nations of the world each year, and your recommended River Houses reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes a current world almanac, a world atlas, and a history encyclopedia that make these reviews fun and easy. We go through the states in the traditional order of admission to the Union (almanac page 422), so this week’s state — the final one for the year! — is:
- 🇺🇸 HAWAII (the 50th state, 21 August 1959) — The Aloha State. Capital: Honolulu. Hawaii can be found on page 569 in your almanac and on plates 46 and #142 in your atlas. Name origin: “Possibly derived from Hawaiki or Owhyhee, Polynesian word for ‘homeland’” (almanac page 423). State bird: Hawaiian Goose (Nene). Website: hawaii.gov.
❡ Little lessons: You can teach a hundred little lessons with the state-of-the-week, using your reference library (riverhouses.org/books) as a starting point. Find the location of the state capital in your atlas each week. Look up the state bird in your bird guide. Read the almanac’s one-paragraph history aloud each week. Using each state’s official website (above), find and copy the preamble to that state’s constitution into a commonplace book over the course of the year. Practice math skills by graphing each state’s population and area. Look up the famous state residents listed in your almanac either online or at your local library. The possibilities are endless and they can be easily adapted to each student’s age and interests. Pick a simple pattern to follow for a few minutes each week, and by the end of the year, without even realizing it, your students will have absorbed a world of new geographical and historical information.
❡ Explore more: If you’re planning a comprehensive unit study of one or more of the U.S. states, be sure to investigate the collection of primary source materials for teachers available from the Library of Congress (loc.gov/teachers/classroommaterials/primarysourcesets/states). In addition, the helpful State Symbols USA site (statesymbolsusa.org) has everything you and your students will want to know about flags, seals, mottos, state birds, and much more.
We finished our tour of the nations of the world last week with Zimbabwe, so this week, to keep tropical Hawaii company, we’ll do polar Antarctica, the only non-nation continent in the world:
- ☃️ ANTARCTICA – surrounding the South Pole. Population: Antarctica is the only continent that has never had a native human population. It is occupied today only by about a thousand scientists scattered at various research stations across the continent. Capital: Antarctica isn’t a nation-state, so it has no capital. The main research stations are located on the Antarctic Peninsula, at McMurdo Sound, and at the South Pole. Website: The Internet registration system has created the top-level domain of .aq for Antarctica, but I haven’t been able to find any websites that actually use it — perhaps you’ll be able to discover one! The United States research programs in Antarctica are administered by the National Science Foundation; their website is full of information and even provides some live webcams of Antarctic scenery (www.usap.gov). ❄️
Antarctica is governed by an international treaty that went into force in 1961. You can read much more about it on the comprehensive Antarctic Treaty System page in Wikipedia (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Antarctic_Treaty_System). Even though Antarctica has no native human population, it has had a rich history since its outlines were first descried in the nineteenth century. The “heroic age of Antarctic exploration” (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Heroic_Age_of_Antarctic_Exploration) is a wonderful subject of study for any adventurous homeschooler.
Your River Houses atlas (riverhouses.org/books) has a wonderful map of the Antarctic continent (plate 113), with extensive notes and annotations — quite worthy of exploration. 😊 Even your River Houses history encyclopedia has a brief outline of Antarctic history as the very last item in its collection of national history profiles (page 599).
What geographical discoveries have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊