The Curriculum of the Steiner School - Class 5

Notes and Lesson Plans

United States Geography
updated March 21, 2017


This page has helpful links and LOADS of free resources to help you plan your fifth grade year. Enjoy!



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United States Geography
for Class 5



Please note that this block would only be "United States Geography" for those students who live in the U.S. This is really the geography of your home country, whatever that is.

    Waldorf Geography Curriculum
    Scope & Sequence

    Grade 4 - the geography of your Region (Local History & Geography)
    and I personally include Early Humans at the beginning of this block - the most logical starting question is "Who were the first people to live here and where did they come from?"

    Grade 5 - the geography of your Country

    Grade 6 and 7 - World Geography

    Grade 8 - World Geography & Economics


Pinterest - Renee Schwartz
My curated collection of visuals! Browse sample main lesson book pages, watercolor paintings, chalkboard drawings, etc. for Local History & Geography / U.S. Geography.

I have combined these boards because what is local to me is U.S. Geography for others; what is U.S. Geography for me is local geography for others.


Sample Lessons and Free Curriculum


Other Helpful Links


Books to Buy

I am using the Native Dwellings series, below, only because we did not do the third grade Housebuilding block and thus I am incorporating it into this. The sole book I recommend for U.S. Geography is Ready-to-Use Outline Maps of the U.S. States and Regions: 159 Different Copyright-Free Maps Printed One Side by Phillip Runquist. It is essential and, happily, it is inexpensive.


I am also using Minn of the Mississippi as a read aloud story during this block but the story you choose will likely be determined by where you live (my second pick would be Paddle-to-the-Sea).


Recorded here is my own personal collection of articles, resources, favorite links, teaching ideas, and lesson plans. It encompasses many years, from the very beginning of my experience studying and learning about Waldorf to the present time. People from all around the world visit my site and recommend it to others. Welcome!

This site records my journey. I hope my honesty is encouraging and helps break down some barriers that may prevent people from trying Waldorf methods. Because this is an ongoing site documenting my curriculum planning and ideas, some materials are more Waldorf-y than others. Please feel free to take what you like and leave the rest.


I am currently teaching this block, in March 2017. My students did NOT do the third grade Housebuilding block, so we are using the Native American Dwellings series by Bonnie Shemie to guide the presentation of U.S. Regions and the accompanying modern-day U.S. States & Capitals.


And here are some VERY helpful Montessori Materials which I highly recommend for this block!

Biomes Curriculum

Biomes Maps

    I also really like the Waseca Biomes Biomes of the World Mat ($75.00). You can also buy paper maps of each continent with the biomes indicated, as opposed to political maps. A complete set is $25.00. Lastly, if you'll be making your own maps, I do suggest investing in the Map Legend Stamp ($30.00). It will be useful for all of middle school World Geography.

Political Maps


We did this in three weeks, so two regions per week. Here was our pacing and our stories:

Introduction - reviewing the Dewey Decimal System


Story #1 - Houses of Bark: Tipi, Wigwam, and Longhouse (392 or 970)
Woodland Indians


Story #2 - Northeast Region (New England and the Mid-Atlantic)
13 states (ME, NH, VT, MA, RI, CT, NY, NJ, PA, DE, MD, WV, VA)


Story #3 - Mounds of Earth and Shell (392 or 970)
The Southeast

    trace outline map for Northeast Region again using tracing paper
    arrange the two maps on facing pages of the MLB
    for this map, label the states by postal abbreviations
    add the state names and capitals in the margin

    hear Story #3


Story #4 - Southeast Region (Southeast and the Mississippi & Ohio Valleys)
15 states (NC, SC, GA, FL, AL, MI, LA, AR, TN, KY, OH, IN, MI, WI, IL)

    outline map of the Southeast on plate 20
    plus Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois (plate 20)

    States & Capitals List
    North Carolina - Raleigh - plates 13, 27
    South Carolina - Columbia - plates 13, 27
    Georgia - Atlanta - plates 13, 27
    Florida - Tallahassee - plates 12, 27
    Alabama - Montgomery - plates 12, 27
    Mississippi - Jackson - plates 12, 27
    Louisiana - Baton Rouge - plates 12, 26
    Arkansas - Little Rock - plates 7, 26
    Tennessee - Nashville - plates 11, 27
    Kentucky - Frankfort - plates 11, 27
    Ohio - Columbus - plates 11, 26
    Indiana - Indianapolis - plates 10, 26
    Michigan - Lansing - plates 10, 26
    Wisconsin - Madison - plates 10, 26
    Illinois - Springfield - plates 10, 26

    review yesterday's story: Mounds of Earth and Shell
    add Story #3 summary and illustration to MLB

    trace and add biome map of region to next page of MLB; add biome map key

    review names of states and capitals and postal abbreviations - students take notes


Story #5 - Houses of Hide and Earth (392 or 970)
Plains Indians


Story #6 - Midwest Region
10 states (MN, IA, MO, KS, NE, SD, ND, MT, WY, ID)

    outline map of the Midwest on plate 20
    except Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois
    plus Montana, Wyoming (plate 22)

    States & Capitals List
    Minnesota - St. Paul - plates 9, 25
    Iowa - Des Moines - plates 9, 26
    Missouri - Jefferson City - plates 9, 26
    Kansas - Topeka - plates 7, 25
    Nebraska - Lincoln - plates 6, 24
    South Dakota - Pierre - plates 6, 25
    North Dakota - Bismarck - plates 6, 25
    Montana - Helena - plates 3, 24
    Wyoming - Cheyenne - plates 3, 24
    Idaho - Boise - plates 1, 23

    review yesterday's story: Houses of Hide and Earth
    add Story #5 summary and illustration to MLB

    trace and add biome map of region to next page of MLB; add biome map key

    review names of states and capitals and postal abbreviations - students take notes


Story #7 - Houses of Adobe (392 or 970)
The Southwest

    add political map for Midwest Region to MLB opposite biome map

    hear Story #7

    sample chalkboard drawing for an adobe house


Story #8 - Southwest Region
7 states (TX, OK, CO, NM, AZ, UT, NV)

    portion of the outline map of the West on plate 22

    States & Capitals List
    Texas - Austin - plates 8, 25
    Oklahoma - Oklahoma City - plates 7, 25
    Colorado - Denver - plates 5, 24
    New Mexico - Santa Fe - plates 5, 24
    Arizona - Phoenix - plates 4, 23
    Utah - Salt Lake City - plates 4, 24
    Nevada - Carson City - plates 2, 23

    review yesterday's story: Houses of Adobe
    add Story #7 summary and illustration to MLB

    trace and add biome map of region to next page of MLB; add biome map key

    review names of states and capitals and postal abbreviations - students take notes


Story #9 - Houses of Wood (392 or 970)
The Northwest Coast

    add political map for Southwest Region to MLB opposite biome map

    hear Story #9

    sample chalkboard drawing for Northwest Coast Native art


Story #10 - Northwest Region
3 states (CA, OR, WA)

    portion of the outline map of the West on plate 22

    States & Capitals List
    California - Sacramento - plates 2, 23
    Oregon - Salem - plates 1, 23
    Washington - Olympia - plates 1, 24

    review yesterday's story: Houses of Wood
    add Story #9 summary and illustration to MLB

    trace and add biome map of region to next page of MLB; add biome map key

    review names of states and capitals and postal abbreviations - students take notes


Story #11 - Houses of Snow, Skin and Bones (392 or 970)
The Far North


Story #12 - States 49 and 50 (Alaska & Hawaii) and the U.S. Territories
2 states (AK, HI) plus Washington, District of Columbia (DC)
and 16 territories (five of which are inhabited: AS, GU, MP, PR, VI)

    States & Capitals List
    Alaska - Juneau - plates 19, 29
    Hawaii - Honolulu - plates 19, 29

    review yesterday's story: Houses of Snow, Skin and Bones
    add Story #11 summary and illustration to MLB

    trace and add biome maps and political maps of Alaska and Hawaii to MLB

    add a description of the difference between a state and a territory and list the territories (inhabited, undisputed, disputed)

    Washington, District of Columbia

    Inhabited Territories List
    American Samoa
    Guam
    Northern Mariana Islands
    Puerto Rico
    U.S. Virgin Islands

    "Members of Congress from the territories seated as of January 2015 are Gregorio Sablan for the Northern Mariana Islands, Madeleine Bordallo for Guam, Amata Coleman Radewagen for American Samoa, Pedro Pierluisi for Puerto Rico, and Stacey Plaskett for the U.S. Virgin Islands."

    Uninhabited Territories List
    "Eleven territories are small islands, atolls and reefs, spread across the Caribbean and Pacific, with no native or permanent populations."

    "The 11 uninhabited territories administered by the Interior Department are Palmyra Atoll, Baker Island, Howland Island, Jarvis Island, Johnston Atoll, Kingman Reef, and Midway Islands. While claimed by the US, Navassa Island, Wake Island, Serranilla Bank and Bajo Nuevo Bank are disputed."

    add an index to the back of the MLB, listing all of the states and territories in alphabetical order and showing what page number(s) they are mentioned on


Conclusion - Assessment (optional)

Sometimes we just need to memorize things... and knowing the names of the U.S. states and their capitals falls into that category! Some quick & easy options for student assessment are


It would also be nice to wrap up this block by having students research a U.S. territory and give a report to the class, instead of the more traditional state reports. Students often already know a lot about their chosen state. The territories are mostly unfamiliar and the research would be authentic. Plus, requiring print resources would give students more practice with the Dewey Decimal System!

This detailed State Research Organizer is available in a .doc format so it is super-easy to edit it and adapt it for a U.S. Territory report.

Please read my very helpful blog post: Breaking Down the Skills Needed to Write a Research Paper



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