Lesson 5: The Southwest


Activity 1: About the Southwest

Materials: Smart About the Fifty States: A Class Report by Jon Buller
Record information about the Southwest on your "About the Southwest" pages. Some of the information for these pages will come from Smart About the Fifty States, but you should also use other sources such as the Internet or an encyclopedia.
  • States (List the names.)
  • Climate (Describe the overall climate of the region and how it changes with the seasons.)
  • Natural resources (List and/or illustrate at least five natural resources found in the region.)
  • Important landforms and bodies of water (Describe important landform(s) and bodies of water in the region. Include at least one landform and one body of water.)
  • Culture (Describe the people and their way of life. What unique traditions do they have? How are they recognized by the rest of the country?)
  • Wildlife (Illustrate and label at least two plants and two animals found in the region.)
  • Famous Person (Describe a famous person from the region and what the person has accomplished.)
  • Jobs (List two important industries in the region.)
To find more information about this region, use the following websites or an encyclopedia.
Web Link
Web Link
Student Activity Page
Student Activity Page
Review the information your child recorded for different aspects of the Southwest. Discuss additional details that can foster a deeper understanding of the region.

Activity 2: Working with Clay

Materials: permanent marker or paint pens*, terra cotta-colored clay
The Southwest has many ties to Native American, Spanish, and Mexican cultures. The uniqueness of these cultural groups is reflected in the art and architecture of the region. Early pioneers and inhabitants depended on natural resources found in the environment. There was no way to transport goods from one region to another. For this activity, you will complete one of the following options. Talk to a parent about which option you want to complete.
Your child will select one of two options. We have provided clay with your curriculum package. Follow the instructions on the clay package.

Option 1: Clay Pot

For this option, you will create a clay pot. Historically, pottery has served a useful purpose. Early civilizations needed pots for mixing, eating, and carrying things. Today, pottery in the Southwest is an artistic expression of the Southwest culture. The following websites have pictures of pottery from the Southwest.
Web Link
Web Link
Create a clay pot using the terra cotta-colored clay. Find a pot style from your research and try to recreate its shape. After the pot has dried, use permanent marker or paint pens to decorate it. Be sure that the decorations reflect the styles and colors of the Southwest. Reds, browns, and turquoise are common southwestern colors. You may also want to create impressions in the clay with natural materials.
For this option, your child will research clay pots of the Southwest and then create and decorate one of his own.

Option 2: Adobe Homes

Create an adobe home using clay. Since there are few trees in the Southwest, people used dirt to build their homes. Adobe is made mostly of sand, clay, dirt, and water. Adobe is often used on homes, red tile roofs, and arched entryways.

Much of the architecture in the Southwest reflects Mexican and Spanish styles. Look at pictures of both ancient dwellings and modern-day Southwest architecture. The following websites contain pictures and information on Southwest homes:
Web Link
Web Link
Draw architectural plans for an ancient or modern-day dwelling in the Southwest or create a dwelling using the clay. You can add details to your clay model using natural materials such as wood and stone.
For this option, your child will research Southwest adobe homes and then create one of his own. If possible, take your child to the library and find a book on southwestern architecture.