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Planes, Trains and Automobiles

Author: Sarah Weber

Big Ideas: Compare and contrast transportation in West Virginia from 1800 to today.

Essential Questions: How has transportation changed in West Virginia from 1800 to today?

4th Grade Standards and Lesson Plans

Social Studies Standards

SS.4.18 compare and contrast West Virginia's population, products, resources and transportation from the 18th century through modern day.

English/Language Arts Standards

ELA.4.R.C3.2 compare and contrast the treatment of similar themes and topics (e.g., opposition of good and evil) and patterns of events (e.g., the quest) in stories, myths, traditional literature and literary text from different cultures.

ELA.4.R.C3.3 interpret information presented visually orally or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations or interactive elements on web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the informational text in which it appears.

ELA.4.R.C3.5 integrate information from two informational texts on the same topic in order to write or speak about the subject knowledgeably.

ELA.4.L.C15.2 demonstrate command of the conventions of standard English capitalization, punctuation and spelling when writing.

Learning Plan: See-Think-Wonder

As a hook for the lesson, show students the following photo:


Image: West Virginia State Archives

Have students complete a See-Think-Wonder foldable for the picture. Students fold a piece of paper into three sections. Write see, think, wonder at the top of each section. Upon viewing the photograph students write what they see in the appropriate column. Finally, what they wonder about regarding the photo in the appropriate section. After students have completed this activity teacher compiles information on a class See-Think-Wonder chart.

Timeline Foldable

To complete this project students will be using foldables (Dina Zikes). Foldables mean less copying for teachers and the kids do ALL the work. There are no fill-in-the-blanks or multiple choice guessing. I also like foldables because the students must summarize information and only write the facts because the pieces of paper are small. This is less daunting for students than writing an essay. After the foldables are made students can combine information into an essay comparing and contrasting transportation in West Virginia.

In this activity your class will be working on a West Virginia social studies standard, as well as ELA standards. Class reads about the transportation in West Virginia and discussed thoughts as a class. Now, the students will create a timeline to help solidify the learning and to give it at time context. Students write a summary of transportation in a fifty-year time period on a 2" x 5" strip of paper. Students can also include a drawing to convey the idea. Continue to write summaries of transportation for the following time periods: 1850 - 1900, 1900 - 1950, 1950 - today. Glue the pieces onto the timeline foldable. Once the foldables are made, students can use them to quiz each other as a study tool.

How to Make a Timeline Foldable

The base is just a regular sheet of colored, copy paper divided in half lengthwise. The "booklets" are 2" x 5" strips that are folded in half. Students write information on the strips of paper. The cool part about creating standalone timelines like this is that as we make others for later, they can be attached to create a "big picture" of history and exploration in our state!

Moving Timeline

Explain to students that they will create a series of connected movements. The series of connected movements conveys an idea. Have students brainstorm ideas about how they can use movement to represent types of transportation. Students create a movement series to convey changes in transportation from 1800 - today.

Notes to the Instructor

After you do this project together with your class gradually release control and divide the class into small groups having each group research other topics from the West Virginia standard: population, resources and products.

Materials and Other Resources







colored pencils

Transportation's Role in West Virginia History e-WV Lesson plan

River Transportation in West Virginia eWV article

The West Virginia Turnpikes eWV article

West Virginia Railroads eWV article

Log Driving and Rafting eWV article

The James River and Kanawha Canal

Giles, Fayette and Kanawha Turnpike

Short-Line Railroads

West Virginia Department of Transportation

West Virginia Highway Map

Sample West Virginia Railroad Map

Also see: Bogard, J.M. and Creegan-Quinquis, M. (2013) Strategies to Integrate the Arts in Social Studies. CA: Shell Education.

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