Third-graders at Wealthy Elementary spend all year studying the Mitten State they call home, and it turns out some are already pretty Michigan-savvy.
“I’ve been to Petoskey, I’ve been to Boyne Mountain, I’ve been to South Haven, Mackinac Bridge …,” listed Henry Seufert.
Peyton Astrauskas added a few of her own: “Lansing, Ferrysburg beach, Mackinac Island … Oh! I’ve been to Detroit …”
Peyton and Henry, along with classmate Mason Woods, were pointing to places on poster-sized maps they had made themselves. The idea was to include natural and man-made characteristics of the Upper and Lower peninsulas, as well as cities, all five Great Lakes and state symbols, among other things.
“In the beginning of the year I have them bring in a picture of a place in Michigan that’s special to them,” teacher Andrea Eggert said. “That really sparks the discussion, and I’m surprised by how much they already know and can teach others about.”
Even the teacher.
“I’ve never been to Tahquamenon Falls or Sleeping Bear Dunes,” Eggert said.
“Having to draw it out is so important for them, because it gets in their brains in a way I don’t think it would otherwise.”
Getting to Know (Google) Earth
Dropping a tiny yellow guy also helps.
Though Eggert has led the poster project before, this year a new element was added to the unit. Working in groups of three, students created a virtual tour of the state using Google Earth. Each tour was supplemented with audio they recorded of themselves sharing information about the places they chose to feature.
The tour created by Giuliana Pignatello, Addie Hein and Edith Zimdar included stops at the State Capitol in Lansing and the Grand Hotel on Mackinac Island.
As Giuliana wrote her script, Edith was online, researching Sand Point Lighthouse. Her current challenge: pronouncing Es-ca-na-ba.
Online maps “have become an important function in our daily lives, so it’s important for students to be able to use those tools effectively,” Eggert said. “They’re probably not going to be driving around with big maps in their cars.”