For live links, click to: riverhouses.org/2019-us-territories
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 our recommended homeschool 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 started our tour at the beginning of the River Houses year in September and are now approaching the end. We’ve completed all the regular states — it’s convenient to have 50 states to cover in a 52-week year! — so we’ll wind up our United States survey with the several small U.S. Territories and Possessions that are scattered around the globe. You can find them all listed in your almanac beginning on page 590:
- 🇦🇸 AMERICAN SAMOA in the western Pacific Ocean. Population: 51,504. Capital: Pago Pago. Official bird: none. Website: www.americansamoa.gov.
- 🇬🇺 GUAM in the western Pacific Ocean. Population: 167,358. Capital: Hagåtña. Official bird: Guam Rail. Website: www.guam.gov.
- 🇲🇵 THE NORTHERN MARIANA ISLANDS in the western Pacific Ocean. Population: 52,263. Capital: Saipan. Official bird: Mariana Fruit-Dove. Website: gov.mp.
- 🇵🇷 PUERTO RICO in the West Indies. Population: 3,337,177. Capital: San Juan. Official bird: Puerto Rican Spindalis. Website: www.pr.gov (in Spanish).
- 🇻🇮 THE U.S. VIRGIN ISLANDS in the West Indies. Population: 107,268. Capital: Charlotte Amalie. Official bird: Bananaquit (bird guide page 484). Website: www.vi.gov.
Another important United States “territory” is our federal city, the District of Columbia, formed originally from parts of Maryland and Virginia, but by design not part of any state:
- 🇺🇸 THE DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA along the Potomac River between Maryland and Virginia. Population: 693,972. Capital: Washington. Official bird: Wood Thrush (bird guide page 412). Website: dc.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 just a few minutes each week, and your little lesson is done. By the end of the year, without even realizing it, your students will have absorbed a world of new geographical and historical information, as well as a host of valuable reading and research skills. 😊
❡ Explore more: If you’re planning a comprehensive unit-study of one or more of the U.S. states, be sure to investigate the primary source materials for teachers available from the Library of Congress.
And since we’ve now finished up the world’s land areas — the nation-states and the non-national continent of Antarctica — this week we’ll cover what is actually the largest part of the earth’s surface: the oceans. The world’s five oceans, in order of size, with links to their Wikipedia pages, are:
- 🌊 THE PACIFIC OCEAN between the eastern hemisphere to the west, and the western hemisphere to the east. Area: 60,060,893 sq. mi. Average depth: 14,040 ft.
- 🌊 THE ATLANTIC OCEAN between the western hemisphere to the west, and the eastern hemisphere to the east. Area: 29,637,974 sq. mi. Average depth: 11,810 ft.
- 🌊 THE INDIAN OCEAN south of the continent of Asia. Area: 26,469,620 sq. mi. Average depth: 12,800 ft.
- 🌊 THE SOUTHERN OCEAN surrounding the continent of Antarctica. Area: 7,848,299 sq. mi. Average depth: 14,450 ft.
- ❄️ THE ARCTIC OCEAN covering the north polar region. Area: 5,427,052 sq. mi. Average depth: 4,300 ft.
A wealth of information and many beautiful maps of the world’s oceans can be found in your current almanac and homeschool atlas as well (riverhouses.org/books).
What grand geographical discoveries have you made in your homeschool this week? 😊
❡ Plan an imaginary vacation: Here’s a fun exercise for your students: take one of the countries that we list each week and write out a family travel plan. How would you get there? How much will it cost? Will you need a passport? Where will you stay? Will you have to exchange your currency? How do you say hello the local language? What cities and attractions and landmarks will you visit? What foods will you eat? How will you get around (car, train, boat, mule)? Make a simple worksheet with blank spaces for the answers, have your students do the research, and start planning your world tour. ✈️ 🚞 🚗 🛳 🐎 😊
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Sunday States & Countries posts. Print your own River Houses States & Countries Calendar (riverhouses.org/calendars) and follow along with us as we take a homeschool tour of the United States and the whole world over the course of the year. 🇺🇸 🌎