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Locating and identifying water features important to the early history of Virginia (Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, James River, York River, Potomac River, Rappahannock River, and Lake Drummond and the Dismal Swamp).



  • Review with students the explorers they studied in third grade (Christopher Columbus — Spain; Juan Ponce de Leon — Spain; Jacques Cartier — France; and Christopher Newport — England). Recall the countries that sponsored the explorers. Ask the students how the explorers traveled to new lands, leading the students to say the explorers sailed by ship and across the Atlantic Ocean. Explain that Virginia was settled by Europeans who crossed the Atlantic Ocean, traveled through the Chesapeake Bay, and arrived in the Coastal Plain (Tidewater).

  • Have the students view the Virginia Pathways video, “Episode 2: Making the Move: Migration Segment.”

  • Review the waterways the students have studied and the reasons these waterways were important in the past as well as in the present. List student responses on a chart, and have them identify the Atlantic Ocean, Chesapeake Bay, Potomac River, James River, York River, and Rappahannock River. Use the Virginia Atlas to review the landforms of the Coastal Plain (Tidewater) region and have the students list the characteristics of the land west of the Fall Line. Guide the students to understand that the land rises higher and higher west of the Fall Line. Review what would happen if they had a human-made mountain and they poured water from the top. Where is the water going to flow? (downhill) In the same way, rivers flow from the mountains downhill to the sea.

  • Refer to the Virginia Pathways video and lessons. Ask the students to identify on a Virginia map the locations where most cities developed. Lead the students to understand that most cities in early Virginia developed along the Fall Line, where land rises sharply and waterfalls prevented further travel on the river. Repeat the Pathways video and have the students identify where rivers and cities are located. Locate the rivers on a Virginia wall map and label each river. Students should label individual maps with river names, the Chesapeake Bay, and the Atlantic Ocean.

  • Ask the students, “What is a peninsula?” Display the term peninsula on a word card and place it on the board. Compare a peninsula to a finger on a hand. Emphasize that a peninsula is a piece of land bordered on three sides by water. Have the students look at the Virginia map and find the Eastern Shore. Emphasize that the Chesapeake Bay separates the Eastern Shore from the mainland of Virginia and that the Eastern Shore is part of the Coastal Plain (Tidewater).




Produced by Prince William County Public Schools in collaboration with
the Virginia Department of Education. All rights reserved. Filnet Inc.
Updated on August 11, 2008.