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Social Studies Projects: Exploring State Symbols

By erichammer

Need ideas for state projects? Here are three to keep you going. One is the most obvious--using posters. However, the other two ideas get a lot quirkier and can be a lot more fun to try out.

Top 3 Ideas

Looking for some great state symbols project ideas? As a Social Studies teacher, I’ve often been asked to come up with ideas for projects for my students that they could use for their state symbols fair. Over the years, I’ve gone through a number of different concepts and came up with three different ones that work well--because they the kids find them to be fun, and they learn at the same time.

Concept One: Posters

This is the most obvious of suggestions for project ideas for state symbols. However there is a reason for that--it’s the easiest thing for kids to do. The idea is to prepare a poster board that depicts what the state happens to have to offer. The poster should include things like state symbols, the state flag, population numbers, and major cities as well as the capital (remember that the capital is often not one of the major cities in the state). Be certain to feature some interesting things to see in the state.

Search the Internet for photos of tourist attractions in the state to show on the poster board. This way, whoever sees the poster board will gain a visual appreciation of the state as well as to learn more about what the state has to offer.

Concept Two: Food

Almost every state has a major food export that they are known to boast about. Sometimes, these food items are obvious--such as oranges in Florida or apples in Washington. However, for truly quirky state projects, come up with more unusual things that are produced in the state.

For example, a great idea for the state of Vermont is to do a project about Ben and Jerry’s ice cream. While you could certainly have products made with maple syrup, which the state is famous for as well, having products that are secondary could provide much more insight into the state. This will allow you to delve that much more deeply into the state project than you would if you simply brought in potatoes for Idaho and pineapple for Hawaii.

A truly creative project is to do a state projects program involving food that symbolizes the state. For example, doing a project on Washington D.C. could include chocolate mud pie to symbolize the mudslinging that politics involves. This idea is probably best saved for a high school kid who is sophisticated enough to understand the irony of it, but you get the drift.

Concept Three: Music

This is by far the hardest state project idea to do; however, it’s also probably the most interesting and entertaining. The state of Ohio is unique in that it is the only state in the union to have an official rock-and-roll song. The song is, "Hang on Sloopy," and it is today played constantly at local sports events as a symbol of state pride. Everyone loves it and sings along!

For this state project idea, have your students research states and come up with a rock-and-roll song that they believe symbolizes the state they were given. They can't just pick a state; they have to justify their choice by using official state symbols to demonstrate why they believe this song matches the state. As a bonus, kids who are fans of the TV show "Glee" could even perform the song in a kind of state projects competition.