I taught regions in third grade. I made sure I had many biographies of people who were born in each region. The website I used to find people from each of the regions was www.50states.com/bio
. Once I had the people list for each region, I checked my school's on-line library catalog to see which books were available for certain people that I knew my third graders would find interesting. Then I checked-out the books from my school library and put them in a basket for all to enjoy during independent reading time. I also read some of the really good ones aloud...people who were referred to in our social studies materials too.
I am wondering if there is a website with the same kind of list for novels that pertain to the regions. I am hoping others can help you with this info. If you do not get many responses at this board, you might want to move your question to the BusyBoard at this site.
Sarah, Plain and Tall
and the sequels are novels I think would work very well in fourth grade. The main character is from the NE, but moves to the Midwest to marry. This would be a very good read aloud, and then your students might show interest in reading the sequels.
You also might want to check on the author Jean Craighead George. She has a mystery book set in the Florida Everglades (I think).
If you are using Reader's Workshop, you might also want to find picture books with settings in the regions to use as your mentor texts.
Another thing to do is find a cookbook with simple recipes for each region. Then at the end of each unit, students could have a "feast" for that region and the class could make a cookbook. I would suggest making "region committees" so that every family gets to contribute to the feast. You could supply the simple recipe or they could find their own, and then that committee of students would supply the food for the class feast. Sometimes the food that is supplied is a simple fruit...like for Hawaii, it might be a pineapple salad or dessert. Sometimes it is more complicated like Mexican food for the SW.
There are also ABC books for each state from a series called "Discover America State-by-State." The books are written as poetry, but along the side of each page is more in-depth info about the topic mentioned in the verse of poetry. A cuminating project for your class for a certain region might be an ABC book where your students each contribute one page...or you could do this for every region. Then your students would have an ABC books for each region with each student contributing to it.
If you can Skyp, you might also want to Skyp with a forest ranger from Yellowstone, a boat tour director who gives tours of the Everglades, or a lobster fisherman from Maine. Students learn so much from asking people who live in the region questions and also find out about different careers. Also check with parents of your students or even their grandparents. Some people take excellent vacation pictures and can talk about places they have visited.
An end-of-year project might be having your students plan a week's family vacation to a certain region/state/city. They could plan it using the internet...but combining research, math (mileage, budget, cost of hotels, cost of gas, airfare, etc.), art through illustrations, planning the route, when they will stay on the first night after driving all day, a daily schedule, etc. If you plan to do this, you need to prepare a model of how their final project will look and what to include.