The Nifty Fifty United States

Nancy Ludu - Prairie Elementary School

Subject Area: Geography
Grade level: 5th Grade

California 5th Grade Social Sciences and History Standards require students know the location of the current 50 states and the names of their capitals. Students often memorize the states and capitals but know little else about the states or their location. By learning interesting facts and allowing students from around the country to comment on our VoiceThread, student learning will become more personal and relevant.


  • Students will be able to locate the current 50 states
  • Students will be able to list the states and the names of their capitals .
  • Students will be able to research at least two states.
  • Students will post information gathered to our classroom VoiceThread and access new information posted to our thread.

Note: As a kickoff for this geography unit, students participated in NASA’s Mission Geography interactive videoconference, a free event sponsored by Magpi.

  • Begin the unit by playing an online version of “ The Nifty Fifty United States” song for the class.
  • Provide mini lessons on:
  • Introduce project guidelines:
    • Students will gather information on at least 2 states
    • Students will write summary of the interesting facts learned about their states
    • Students will peer edit summary about states.
    • Teacher and students will conference together to finalize drafts
  • Take students' writing and voices beyond the walls of the classroom:
    • Teacher will demonstrate VoiceThread basics for students how to log on; how to add images, text, clip art, sound files, recorded sound, recorded video; layout options; saving and editing
    • Students will use microphone option to add their interesting fact into VoiceThread.


  • Classroom computers, or computer lab computers, or home computers - with Internet access
  • Access to classroom Voicethread
  • In print and online reference materials each of the 50 United States. The Outline Maps: Unitied States sites is a good resource.

Student Products:

Extension Activities:
Students will invite other students from school around the country to contribute to interesting facts about their states through written email invitations and sending the link to the Voicethread.



  • Creativity and Innovation: Students demonstrate creative thinking, construct knowledge, and develop innovative products and processes using technology.
  • Communication and Collaboration: Students use digital media and environments to communicate and work collaboratively, including at a distance, to support individual learning and contribute to the learning of others.
  • Research and Information Retrieval: Students apply digital tools to gather, evaluate, and use information.
  • Critical Thinking, Problem-Solving, and Decision-Making: Students use critical thinking skills to plan and conduct research, manage projects, solve problems and make informed decisions using appropriate technology tools. Students:
  • Digital Citizenship: Students understand human, cultural, and societal issues related to technology and practice legal and ethical behavior.
  • Technology Operations and Concepts: Students demonstrate a sound understanding of technology concepts, systems, and operations.

Common Core Standards:

  • Reading Informational Text: Integration of knowledge and ideas
  • Speaking and Listening: Comprehension and collaboration; Presentation of knowledge and ideas

California Content Standards:

  • 5th Grade Social Science/History: 5.9
  • 5th Grade English Language Arts:
    • Writing Strategies 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 1.5, 1.6
    • 5th Grade Writing Applications 2.3a, 2.3b, 2.3c
    • 5th Grade Listening and Speaking 1.5, 2.2a, 2.2b, 2.2c, 1.4, 1.7, 1.8, 2.3
  • English Language Development Standards
    • Listening and speaking beginning and intermediate
    • Writing beginning and intermediate
    • Reading beginning and intermediate