Finding ways to make history hands-on is my jam! If you’re looking for fun Virginia Studies activities to use with your 20th and 21st Centuries Unit, you’ve come to the right place. In this post for Virginia teachers, I’m sharing my favorite lessons, games, and research activities for this SOL.

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Are you looking for even more fun Virginia Studies activities? You can find all of my Virginia Studies blog posts HERE. You can also sign up for my free newsletter for Virginia teachers to learn when I upload new posts and resources just for teaching in Virginia.


Complete a Great Depression Simulation

I am always looking for ways to incorporate math into my Virginia Studies lessons, and this simulation game does that perfectly. This Great Depression Simulation is not only one of my students’ favorite activities during this Virginia Studies unit, but it is also one of their favorite Virginia Studies activities for the entire school year!

With this dice game, students roll to find out what their salary will be. Then, throughout the activity, they face both positive and negative financial situations that Virginians experienced during the Great Depression. The goal of the activity is to remain in their home (without being evicted) throughout the game.

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This simulation activity always helps students better understand what life was like for Virginians during the Great Depression and why so many people were homeless. It is also a great way to integrate math skills into Virginia Studies.

Examine Primary Sources of Virginia

Using primary sources is one of the easiest Virginia Studies activities you can create for any lesson. As we move closer to present-day history in Virginia Studies, there are more photographs and first-hand accounts available. Using images and first-hand accounts of events such as the Great Depression and women’s suffrage helps paint a more detailed picture of what life was like for Virginians in the 20th and 21st Centuries.

I like to show my students images from the past and have them write about what they think is happening in the images. Then, we discuss what is actually happening in the images, which also provides an opportunity to review inferencing skills and drawing conclusions.

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These primary source worksheets are included in THIS Virginia Studies unit.

Review Regions of Virginia

Virginia Studies activities that incorporate spiral review should be a part of every Virginia Studies unit. The 20th and 21st Centuries lessons provide many opportunities to review concepts that were taught earlier in the year.

One of the concepts that can be reviewed during this unit is Virginia geography. During the 20th and 21st Centuries Unit, students examine how Virginia transitioned from a rural, agricultural society to more of an urban, industrialized society. When introducing this SOL, make sure to review the regions of Virginia that students learned about in an earlier Virginia Studies SOL.

You can do this by having students label where different industries such as coal mining and government jobs can be found on a map of Virginia. As students label their maps, be sure to discuss the characteristics of each Virginia region and why a certain industry would be found in that region.

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This Virginia map activity is included in THIS Virginia Studies unit.

Research People from Virginia Studies SOLs

The 20th and 21st Centuries Unit also lends many opportunities for Virginia Studies activities that require independent research.

There are so many Virginians that students are expected to identify as part of this SOL. Encourage your students to complete a project where they research a famous Virginian. Students can document their findings in several different ways such as creating a Google Slides presentation, writing a five-paragraph essay, creating a poster, or creating a picture book. When students are finished with their Virginia Studies research projects, have them share their research and presentation with the class.

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This Virginia Studies research project is included in THIS Virginia Studies unit.

Play a Famous Virginians Matching Game

There are always some students who struggle with memorizing all of the famous Virginians in this Virginia Studies SOL. Matching games make for fun Virginia Studies activities that help students with memorizing facts.

During the 20th and 21st Centuries Unit, I always keep sets of famous Virginians matching game cards in an easily accessible spot. Early finishers can use them any time to review Virginia Studies. Incorporating images on your matching game cards is also an easy way to help students identify and remember each of the famous Virginians.

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This famous Virginians matching game is included in THIS Virginia Studies unit.

Play Virginia Studies Task Cards Games

Using task card games is a fun way to review information and get students up and moving. Another great thing about task cards is that there are so many ways they can be used and games that can be played with them. I show some of my favorite task card games in the video below.

To review the concepts from this Virginia Studies SOL, I have created 28 Virginia in the 20th and 21st Centuries Task Cards with questions that resemble what students will see on an SOL test. These task cards make for fun, no-prep Virginia Studies activities at the end of a unit or before SOL testing at the end of the year.

All of my Virginia Studies task cards are available in both PDF and digital formats.

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You can find these Virginia Studies task cards HERE.

Complete a Virginia Studies Escape Room

My students’ favorite Virginia Studies activities are escape rooms! Escape rooms incorporate math, ELA, and critical thinking skills as students review the Virginia Studies SOLs.

With my 20th and 21st Centuries Time Travel Escape Room, students pretend they are traveling back in time to explore Virginia history. In the process, their time machine malfunctions. The only way to fix the time machine and return to the present is by completing seven escape room challenges that help students review information from the unit.

Challenges include:

  • assembling puzzles to review famous Virginians
  • decoding information about Virginia history
  • using a map to identify regions of Virginia

As soon as we complete this Virginia Studies activity, students are always begging to do another escape room.

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You can find this Virginia Studies escape room HERE.

Conclusion

If you are looking for fun, hands-on Virginia Studies activities to get your students excited about your 20th and 21st Centuries Unit, try incorporating some of the lessons and games listed above in your classroom. 

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Pin for later.

The Virginia Studies activities described in this post can be replicated in your classroom, but I know planning time is limited. If you’re short on time, I’ve got you covered! You can find all of my 20th and 21st Centuries resources in my store, including:

All of my Virginia Studies resources are also bundled together for a discounted price.

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The Virginia Teacher Club® is a one-of-a-kind program for upper elementary teachers in Virginia. Members receive instant access to a curriculum library of SOL-aligned math, science, social studies, and ELA resources. There are lesson plans, games, assessments, passages, digital activities, and more for EVERY SOL. By using the Virginia Teacher Club®, our members save hours of planning time every month and have access to high-quality, SOL-aligned resources that students love.

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