Road Trip USA: Alaska Geography Unit

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Alaska became the 49th state on January3, 1959. It is known as “The Last Frontier” because of the distance from the lower 48 states and because of its rugged landscape and climate. If it was placed on top of the lower 48 states it would stretch from Florida to California. It is the largest land state in the U.S. being twice as big as Texas and 488 times bigger than Rhode Island! The state boasts nearly 34,000 miles of shoreline, and reaches 90 °F in summer, while in the winter, the temperature can fall below −60 °F. Barrow, AK (located at the very top of the state) has a two-month winter period where the sun doesn’t rise at all. In the summer, all of Alaska gets 24-hour sunlight for at least one day at the solstice (June 21), while Barrow has continuous day light for about 85 days in a row.

Here are some of the things we learned about this week:

  • Located Alaska on our wall map
  • Read our National Geographic Atlas and located Juneau, Alaska using the map coordinates.
  • Worked on our 50 States and Capitals song
  • Learned about the state and it’s flag
  • State Bird: Willow Ptarmigan
  • State Fish: King Salmon
  • State Flower: Forget Me Not
  • Eskimo Inuit people
  • The Aurora Borealis
  • Dog Mushing
  • Food: Alaska is known for Alaskan King Salmon, King Crab, and wild game.

We took turns locating Phoenix, Alaska in our National Geographic Atlas.

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Tinker Bell added Alaska to our United States Bulletin. After that we reviewed all of the states we’ve learned so far on our travels.

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After learning about the animals symbols for Alaska, we classified and added the animals to our USA animal wall!

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Dog Mushing: For the Alaskan Natives dog sledding was their main way of transportation. It wasn’t until the late 1890’s that dog sledding became a sport. The miners bet on dog teams, then held races to find out which dog was the best dog on the Yukon Trail. In 1908 the first organized dog race, the “All Alaska Sweepstakes” was run. It was a 400 mile course that started in Nome. Now, every March the “Iditarod” race takes place. It is 1,049 miles long representing Alaska as the 49th state in the USA. Watch a fun Iditarod 2011 Race Video here.

To set the ambiance, Tinker Bell brought in her American Girl doll complete with dog mushing set.

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The ‘Inuit” or Eskimos of Alaska are an ancient people that have grown with the state. There are only about 60,000 Inuit left in population. They spread from Siberia, Canada, Greenland and Alaska. They hold their elders in high esteem. Traditionally, they wear seal and caribou skins with fur trim for warmth.

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The Aurora Borealis is a natural light display in the sky, particularly seen in the polar regions. The phenomena are caused by the violent collision of charged particles directed by the Earth’s magnetic field. They are commonly seen between 60 and 72 degrees north and south latitudes or within the Arctic and Antarctic polar circles, This is due to the longer periods of darkness and the magnetic field in these areas. Watch a Northern Lights Video.

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Just so we could see this wonder for ourselves, we checked out a few You Tube videos of the Aurora Borealis.

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Alaska is known for Alaskan King Salmon, King Crab, and wild game. They are harvested off the coast of Alaska and Aleutian Islands during the winter months. Alaskan crab fishing is very dangerous, it is believed that on average, one crab fisherman dies weekly during the seasons.

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They all completed their state worksheets as we read through all of the Alaska state facts in our curriculum:

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Then Turbo had the honor of adding the state to our wall map.

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As usual, we ended our week by adding the Alaska state flag to our Travel Journal!

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And that wraps up our Alaska study! If you’d like to come along with us on our Road Trip USA journey, click the image below to learn more!

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3 Comments

  • Beth September 27, 2012 at 10:29 am

    Tons of great ideas!!! Love the pics 🙂

    Reply
  • Heather September 27, 2012 at 12:39 pm

    Hi!
    I am a MAT student that just recently started following your blog. Last night in my teaching Social Studies class my professor shared this book. I immediately thought of your road trip USA series, Thought you might want to check it out if you are not already familiar with it. Here is the link at Amazon for “Train of States”

    http://www.amazon.com/Train-States-Peter-Sis/dp/0060578408

    Love the Blog and all of your wonderful ideas!!

    Reply
  • Kacy February 25, 2013 at 12:26 pm

    I am loving your Road Trip study! Thank you so much for taking the time to post all you do! It really helps so many of us out here!!!! You are awesome!

    Reply

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