Fourth-graders tour Virginia

Published 10:04 pm Monday, February 28, 2011

Fourth-grade students at Kilby Shores Elementary School have been on a tour of Virginia since January — a virtual tour, that is.

Fourth-grade students at Kilby Shores Elementary School view art teacher Angie Salerno’s PowerPoint presentation featuring the Piedmont region while the music of the region plays softly in the background. Salerno created the virtual tour of Virginia complete with activities combining art projects with lessons about Virginia to help Kilby Shores students grasp social studies SOLs.

The students’ host for the tour was their art teacher, Angie Salerno. She decided to create the tour to help her students learn artistic techniques and geography at the same time.

“One of the fourth grade teachers asked for help,” Salerno said. “Since the children can’t go there, I take the places to them.”

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Salerno photographed locations all over Virginia, found regional music and created a PowerPoint presentation about the regions. She also developed hands-on art activities to help her students learn and remember about the region and its features.

“I think it makes more of an impact,” Salerno said. “They feel like they’ve been there. They have a connection they didn’t have before.”

Through the virtual tour, students learn about the Appalachian Highlands, the Valley and Ridge, the Piedmont, the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Coastal Plain.

One of the hands-on activities includes using charcoal to create a mountain range that becomes gradually lighter with distance, like one of the mountain ranges that students observed in photos of the Appalachian Highlands.

Another project includes folding a piece of paper to represent mountains and a valley. Students draw the mountain range on the outside folds and items that might appear in the valley on the inside fold.

“It’s pretty fun because you get to learn about the regions, and you do it through art,” student Benji Salerno said.

“I learned that the Valley and Ridge is in the “V” formation and it cuts into the Blue Ridge Mountains,” said Avery Nance, who came in with a picture she drew of a lighthouse after her last session with the art teacher. “I’ve also learned that when you look at hills from far away you can see how beautiful they are. I don’t see hills a lot. Where I live there’s not a lot of hills.”

“I think it’s really neat and nice, and it inspires me to do other things with it,” Nance said.