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Geography of the Americas

Grade Level Grades K-2
Standards Alignment
Common Core State Standards


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In the Grade 2 Core Knowledge History and Geography unit Geography of the Americas, students become explorers of the diverse landscapes of North and South America and discover the many ways people have found to survive and thrive in them.

Students begin the unit by honing their map skills. They examine different types of maps and the tools needed to understand them, such as the compass rose and map key. After reviewing their map skills, they first travel across North America, beginning in the United States. They cross the mighty Mississippi River on their way to the mist-covered Appalachian Mountains, and then stop to see the Great Lakes before crossing the border into Canada. In Canada they visit the Inuit of the Canadian Arctic, explore the Canadian Rockies, and see the buffalo and antelope of the southern grasslands. The last stop in Canada is Ottawa, the capital, where they see the brightly lit buildings of Parliament Hill at night.

Students continue their travels by going south to Mexico, visiting Mexico City and beyond, where they explore Aztec ruins, crops growing in the rich volcanic soil, and modern factories. The last stop on the North American continent is a visit to the seven countries of Central America, where students discover the pyramids of the Maya, volcanic landscapes, rainforests teeming with wildlife, beautiful beaches, and fascinating history, and where they also make a brief stop to the U.S. territories in the Caribbean.

Finally, students head south to the twelve countries of South America. There they visit the world’s driest desert, vast grasslands, the Andes Mountains, and Lake Titicaca—the continent’s largest lake—and see the wonders of the Amazon Rainforest. They even see snow on the equator in the mountains of Ecuador, and they meet indigenous people living high in the mountains.

The unit consists of five chapters, each offering a view into the wide variety of life, physical geography, and human culture of the Americas


Ask and answer such questions as who, what, where, when, why, and how to demonstrate understanding of key details in a text.
Recount or describe key ideas or details from a text read aloud or information presented orally or through other media.
Ask and answer questions about what a speaker says in order to clarify comprehension, gather additional information, or deepen understanding of a topic or issue.
Use sentence-level context as a clue to the meaning of a word or phrase.
Identify real-life connections between words and their use (e.g., describe foods that are spicy or juicy).


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