Take a Virtual Road Trip with PBS LearningMedia
Invite kids on a virtual trip around the United States to explore the sights, sounds, people, and places that have helped to shape our nation’s cultural heritage. Use these featured resources as your springboard into discussions about culture, geography, music, and science! PBS LearningMedia allows you to search, download and create playlists to support learning anytime, anywhere! Sign up for a free account for full access to thousands more educational resources.
Traveling around the U.S.A. | Grades 1-4
Sing along with Wilson and Ditch as they highlight the diversity of the U.S.A! Viewers see images of places across America and hear all about activities like riding the subway in NYC and going on a ferry ride in Minnesota!
Road Trip – Oy | Grades 1-3
While in the car with their father, Charlotte and Henry play a game comparing words that have the oy sound produced by “oi” or “oy,” like oysters and avoid, using billboards alongside the road. The goal of this resource is decoding.
Digging America | Grades 1-4
Wilson and Ditch are two funny, energetic and talkative gopher brothers driving around America. These gopher brothers drive from city to city as tourists who learn the history, “actual facts” (as Wilson calls them), and fun facts of every new location. The brothers also love experiencing the usual touristy stuff as well as the really unusual, obscure, and sometimes just weird sites each city has to offer.
Tour Through New York State | Grades 2-5
Take a virtual tour of NYS with music and movement. The tour includes important landmarks and sightseeing hot spots throughout NYS while incorporating history and physical activity! At each sight perform an exercise that can be done while at the location or to get to the location.
Faces of America | Grades 2-12
What made America? What makes us? These two questions are at the heart of the PBS series Faces of America with Henry Louis Gates, Jr. The lesson plans and media resources based on the series address a wide range of topics including historic waves of immigration, anti-immigrant sentiment, family genealogy, and state-of-the-art genetic research. Through this collection, students will gain a broader perspective of America’s immigrant history (both past and present) and learn what it really means to be an American.
Road Trip | Grades 3-6
In this game, identify different instruments that are characteristic of certain musical genres. “Chuck Vanderchuck’s ‘Something Something’ Explosion” is designed to help understand music and music composition by teaching basic musical concepts and performance skills through the study of popular song styles from around the world.
Symbols of the U.S. | Grades 3-8
Every nation has symbols — specific objects that represent beliefs, values, traditions, or other intangible ideas that make that country unique. While these symbols may change over time, they can help to bind a nation together by reminding its people of their nation’s history and most important principles. Six U.S. symbols are depicted in this Library of Congress primary source set: the Liberty Bell, the U.S. flag, the bald eagle, the national anthem, Uncle Sam, and the Statue of Liberty. This set also includes a Teacher’s Guide with historical context and teaching suggestions.
Geysers in Yellowstone | Grades 4-6
Use this video to investigate why geysers occur in certain thermal basins and explore how the underground “plumbing” of a geyser causes a buildup of pressure. Compare the water temperatures and rocks at different types of thermal basins.
Early America | Grades 5-12
This collection from KET provides examples of early American culture through storytelling, music, and documentary. Several music segments feature musician Mike Seeger, who is an authority on traditional American music. Another segment features Saxton’s Cornet Band, an ensemble that recreates early brass bands.
Segments on the Hensley Settlement and Dr. Thomas Walker are from the KET program Kentucky Life. The Thomas Walker segment includes interviews with members of the Bell County Historical Society, who discuss the early explorer and his journal documenting the settlement of Kentucky.
From the Top at Carnegie Hall | Grades 5-12
Meet America’s most extraordinary young musicians aged 8 to 18, and witness the excitement of their debut performances at Carnegie Hall! Based on the popular NPR program and hosted by acclaimed pianist Christopher O’Riley, From the Top at Carnegie Hall is a production of WGBH Boston, From the Top, and Don Mischer Productions in partnership with Carnegie Hall.
Westward Expansion, 1790-1850 | Grades 5-13+
In this interactive map produced by WGBH, explore the territorial and population changes in the United States between 1790 and 1850. The time frame of the map also covers the beginning of the transportation revolution, with layers depicting the development of canals and then railroad networks and the major trail routes that facilitated westward migration. Additional themes included in the map show Native American land cessions and forced removals. You can also view geological and political features.
Conflicts Between Hamilton and Jefferson | Grades 6-8
In the formative years of the United States, two key figures helped shape a new government: Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. But their vision of what that government should be and do often conflicted. In this interactive from A Biography of America, read statements by Jefferson and Hamilton on the role of government, the virtue of people, slavery, and the role of cities, and decide who had the more enduring vision for America.
Mission US: For Crown or Colony? | Grades 6-8
Mission US is a multimedia project featuring free interactive adventure games set in different eras of U.S. history. The first game, “For Crown or Colony?,” puts the player in the shoes of Nat Wheeler, a 14-year-old printer’s apprentice in 1770 Boston. As Nat navigates the city and completes tasks, he encounters a spectrum of people living and working there when tensions mount before the Boston Massacre. Ultimately, the player determines Nat’s fate by deciding where his loyalties lie.
To Sign or Not to Sign | Grades 6-8
Examine a primary source image of the Declaration of Independence and recognize that not all 13 colonies are represented. Consider the risks and benefits the members of the Second Continental Congress faced by signing the document.
National Anthem Mashup | Grades 6-12
The DJs from PBS’s Beat Making Lab take a detailed look at two of America’s most cherished songs to create a whole new mashup of music, drawing inspiration from the Progressive Era of American History. Starting with the story of “The Star Spangled Banner” and lacing in elements from “Lift Every Voice and Sing” (also known as the Black National Anthem), these musicians are able to create a new, exciting remix that expresses the diversity of our nation.
Picturing America | Grades 6-12
The artworks included in the Picturing America project of the National Endowment for the Humanities, launched in 2008 to introduce Americans to their artistic heritage and to the possibilities inherent in using art as a link to teaching and understanding America’s past.
Monumental Science in D.C | Grades 6-13+
Joe Hanson, host of It’s Okay to be Smart, takes a trip to Washington D.C. to check out some of our nation’s most famous monuments. Where do they come from? From the depths of the Earth to the distant reaches of the cosmos, you’ll never look at history the same way again.
Emmylou Harris & Americana Music | Grades 6-13+
This clip from Nashville 2.0 examines the central role of Emmylou Harris in the development of Americana music, including her early collaborations with Gram Parsons, as she transitioned from playing “folk music” to combining influences from rock, country, and bluegrass throughout the 1990s. This clip includes footage from one of Harris’s
The Revivalist | Grades 9-12
Pete Seeger’s contributions to the banjo music industry are described in this video, and the banjo is explained as a metaphor for the working class people, the underdogs. In the supporting lesson plans, examine the life and influence of a major folk singer from the era and commemorate his contributions to music and society.
Teaching the Constitution | Grades 9-12
This collection includes resources that support teaching the fundamentals of the U.S. Constitution.
Students will understand the issues involved in the creation and ratification of the United States Constitution, the new government it established, and its continuing significance.