Geography ELA Unit

ELA Social Studies – How Can You Teach Four Subjects At Once!

Before I get into the activities in our Intro to Geography unit, I’d want to express how pleased I am to have a unit that tackles so many skills while still being FUN! The more talents a child is needed to master as they get older. That is why Ana, and I designed a social studies curriculum that incorporates all of your language arts, reading, and writing requirements. Finally! A social studies curriculum that emphasizes vocabulary, reading, writing, and grammar!

Intro to Geography Components

We’re starting out the year with geography in my 3rd and 5th grade classes.  There is So MUCH geography in 3rd grade social studies.  Ana and I are making sure we’re getting all of our standards covered in this social studies curriculum.  Unit studies are my favorite way to teach skills to all grade levels!  Here’s why:

  • They provide real world connections for kids
  • Keeps kids engaged through many different learning activities
  • Teacher is able to be creative by adapting lessons for each child
  • Can integrate multiple subjects at once
  • Kids have more choices in learning
  • Huge time saver for teachers

For Unit One, these are the standards we cover.

  • Interpret maps and globes using common terms, including country, region, mountain, hemisphere, latitude, longitude, north pole, south pole, equator, time zones, elevation, approximate distances in miles, isthmus, and strait (Note: this unit only covers country, region, hemisphere, latitude, longitude, north and south pole, equator, and elevation.  Unit 2 will cover the rest.)
  • Explain the difference between relative and absolute location.
  • Explain how specific images contribute to and clarify geographical information diagrams, landforms, satellite photos, GPS system, maps, and charts).
  • Write narratives to develop real or imagined experiences or events using effective technique, descriptive details, and clear event sequences.
  • Use commas and quotation marks in dialogue.
  • Use information gained from illustrations (e.g., maps, photographs) and the words in a text to demonstrate understanding of the text
  • Describe characters in a story (e.g., their traits, motivations, or feelings) and explain how their actions contribute to the sequence of events.

Here is unit one broken down for you.

Component One: Vocabulary

Vocabulary is one of the five core components of a reading program.  It is vital for teachers to teach more vocabulary in their lessons.  As part of an effective vocabulary instruction, vocabulary  should be taught before reading material is introduced.  This is why we have vocabulary cards and definitions as the first component of every unit.  We use vocabulary mapping to enhance vocabulary learning.  Kids connect the new words to their background in order to remember the meaning.  The kids complete a map for each vocabulary word, and then alphabetize them in a three ring binder to create their very own dictionary!

Geography ELA Unit

We also have a fun map hunt for you!  This can be used as a center activity, individual activity, or an assessment.  Students are given a rhyme to figure out, then they label the answer on the map.

Geography ELA Unit

The vocabulary scoot game is another group, individual or assessment activity.  Place the cards around the room and then the students use the recording sheet and clipboard to run around solving the vocabulary problems.  This is a student favorite!


Match the vocabulary words to the definitions or a memory game can be played during this unit.  So many ways to practice these vocabulary words!

We also have a traditional vocabulary assessment to use either in place of the games, or to use as a final grade.

Component Two: Reading and Comprehension

One of the ways students build vocabulary is through reading.  After practicing vocabulary words in isolation, it’s time to integrate those words into context.  These stories satisfy both social studies and reading standards.  Because we’ll read a lot of atlases and maps for this unit, this landed itself well to identify text features.  We created out own anchor chart as we read through our suggested book list.

Then we completed our own individual text feature list.



Now that our vocabulary is fairly rooted, we begin reading stories about geography.  The kids use sticky notes to make observations and answer comprehension questions.  These stories are great to use for discussions.

ELA stories

We also use these stories to spark journal prompts.

These stories are also great for character analysis.

After reading both geography stories, we can create another anchor chart comparing fiction and nonfiction stories.


One of our favorite things to do as a class is to do a little Reader’s Theater.  This is a fun cumulative activity.

Component #3: Grammar

This unit deals with quotations.  To start out every grammar lesson, we use an anchor poster.   The kids then write their own anchor poster in their grammar notebooks.  This is their reference journal for the year.

There are many, many anchor posters with this unit.  The kids especially love the “said” poster.


Quotations task cards can be played either in small groups or by individual students.

These cartoons are so cute!  They are perfect to use for students practicing adding quotations!

Mad Libs are another student favorite!  These are a spiraling review to practice parts of speech.

Narrative Writing

We used narrative writing in this unit because it’s a wonderful way to get more quotation writing practice!  The anchor posters are used to create our own anchor poster in our writing notebooks.  We use the graphic organizers to help come up with characters and character traits. After writing out our story on the writing paper, we get in groups to peer edit.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

How do you integrate language arts and social studies?

Kids often like the subject presented in social studies (for example, volcanoes, Egypt, and dogs), which might inspire them to advance in ELA. Furthermore, the literacy skills that intersect with social studies are the ones we utilise the most in adulthood. You may include science and social studies classes into your other basic areas of reading, writing, and arithmetic by integrating your curriculum.

Begin where you are most at ease and gradually extend. Collaborate with another instructor or bring in a guest specialist, such as an artist in residence or a cultural speaker. Make use of high-quality multimedia tools, such as those included in the Social Studies Arts Toolkit prototype. And keep track of everything you do. This will allow you to monitor your personal professional development while also providing the paperwork that your institution will want.

Students may learn about science and social studies issues by reading informative texts. While learning about these themes, they may practise their presenting abilities. You can also include arithmetic into subjects like temperature for the weather! Students may develop a reasoned persuasive case about an event or person using informative texts from their weekly courses. This answer might be in the form of a short paragraph. It might also be a written or creative answer that they have recorded in their interactive notebooks. Whatever technique you choose, students must provide a major concept or perspective, as well as supporting evidence from books.


I hope you’ve found this unit useful to make teaching social studies easy and fun.  Be sure to check out this curriculum to help get all of your skills in this year.

Happy Teaching!


I’m a writer, new mom and foodie. I love sharing what I know while making others feel beautiful. On this blog, I share my healthy lifestyle, simple meals, fitness tips and experiences.

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Kara Bout It