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Community Treasures (Rivers and Trees): An Integrated Curriculum Unit

Grade: 3

Unit Length: 6 weeks



From the National Council for Teachers of English http://www.ncte.org/standards/standards.shtml, the National Council for Social Studies http://www.socialstudies.org/standards/toc.html, and the National Council for Geographic Education http://www.ncge.org/publications/tutorial/standards/. Students should know:

  • how to use maps and other geographic representations, tools, and technologies to acquire, process, and report information (NCGE Standard #1)
  • the patterns and networks of economic interdependence on Earth's surface (NCGE Standard #11)
  • how human actions modify the physical environment (NCGE Standard #14)
  • how physical systems affect human systems (NCGE Standard #15)
  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of how people create and change structures of power, authority, and governance. (NCSS Standard #6)
  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ways human beings view themselves in and over time. (NCSS Standard #2)
  • Social studies programs should include experiences that provide for the study of the ideals, principles, and practices of citizenship in a democratic republic. (NCSS Standard #10)
  • Students read a wide range of print and nonprint texts to build an understanding of texts, of themselves, and of the cultures of the United States and the world; to acquire new information; to respond to the needs and demands of society and the workplace; and for personal fulfillment. Among these texts are fiction and nonfiction, classic and contemporary works. (NCTE Standard #1)
  • Students employ a wide range of strategies as they write and use different writing process elements appropriately to communicate with different audiences for a variety of purposes. (NCTE Standard #5)



Students should be able to:

  • demonstrate an understanding of geography and its effects on lifestyles and culture
  • apply basic economic terms and principles
  • understand United States government and history
  • understand and apply principles of citizenship
  • read with understanding and accuracy
  • write effectively for different purposes and audiences

Local Benchmarks:

Students should be able to:

  • understand that people in the United States make the laws and rules they follow
  • use map skills to locate and distinguish among varying land forms and geographic features
  • know how people depend on natural resources and make decisions about them
  • understand that there are three branches of government with different responsibilities
  • understand factors that influence community development
  • pronounce, use, and understand vocabulary from all subject areas
  • read content area materials to gain and apply information
  • recall main ideas and details, sequence events, predict outcomes, draw conclusions, and classify them
  • write short narrative, descriptive, and expository works with a main idea and supporting details
  • write for real-life purposes, including memos, letters, and reports

Source: Standards and benchmarks were written and provided by the Hamilton County Schools.

Essential Questions:

    • What is a community?
    • How do laws show the needs of a community?
    • What good is this map anyway?


  • Treasure Hunt Performance Task
  • Third Grade Congress Performance Task
  • Friendly Letter
  • Narrative Paragraph


  • Collect various maps in a data bin several weeks before beginning unit.
  • Post essential questions in the classroom.
  • Brainstorm the word concept "community" with students. Create a web of responses.
  • Discuss urban, rural, and suburban communities.
  • Play SimTown as a class, focusing on elements of a community. Allow kids to play individually or in groups.
  • Send kids on a "treasure hunt" in the school using a map with written directions to model the map performance task.
  • Give a didactic lesson on types of maps and map symbols.
  • Conduct a shared reading of A RIVER RAN WILD and SONG OF THE TREES.
  • Conduct an author/artist study of Lynne Cherry.
  • Compare/contrast illustrations in A RIVER RAN WILD with a map.
  • Administer vocabulary activities for both books.
  • Give a didactic lesson on narrative paragraph and friendly letter.
  • Write narrative paragraph about A RIVER RAN WILD.
  • Write friendly letter to characters in SONG OF THE TREES.
  • Conduct seminar discussions about both books.
  • Review process of bill becoming law. Show "Iím Just a Bill" from SCHOOLHOUSE ROCK.
  • Use student maps (from performance task) to complete treasure hunts.
  • Hold Congress sessions and have a "signing ceremony" to sign bills into law.

Learning Behaviors:

  • understanding and following directions
  • prioritizing
  • thinking critically


  • classroom set of SONG OF THE TREES by Mildred D. Taylor
  • classroom set of A RIVER RAN WILD by Lynne Cherry
  • classroom set of student atlases
  • SimTown computer software
  • posters, rulers, crayons, and templates for map making


  • overhead projector
  • TV/VCR
  • computer with TV projection
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