Celebrate Nebraska’s Birthday with a State Study!

Celebrate Nebraska’s Birthday with a State Study!

March 1st is Statehood Day in the state of Nebraska. We will be celebrating 152 years since officially becoming the 37th state on March 1, 1867!

I moved to Omaha, NE, for my first teaching job back in 1995. My assignment was 4th grade. The biggest part of the Social Studies curriculum for 4th grade is to teach Nebraska History. I had just moved to Nebraska, living here for only 2 months. Omaha was the only part of Nebraska I had ever been in! If you are familiar with a Nebraska map you will see that Omaha is on the extreme east side of the state, you don’t even need to drive through other areas of Nebraska to arrive in Omaha. You head over the Missouri River (Iowa border) on I-80 or I-29 and go directly into Omaha. So needless to say I did not have one bit of background knowledge of the state of Nebraska or its history!

In addition to a lack of personal experience, the district gave me ZERO resources to use to teach this curriculum, no textbooks, no informational books, no teacher’s manuals, nothing, zero, zip! So to say I really was not qualified or prepared to teach this required Social Studies curriculum is an understatement!

I made it through that first year, how I’m not quite sure? I learned about Nebraska right along with my students. The second year I was able to start to refine the resources that I created and by the third year, it was looking even better. The silver lining of the experience is that by being given nothing I was able to refine my creating skills and have been able to utilize those skills with my The Teaching Bank adventures!

When my son was in 4th grade his teacher contacted me asking if I had any resources to help with her Nebraska Unit. I enjoy sharing my resources with my children’s teachers and her email sparked an idea to create a product line using the materials I had created for my own classroom. I would have been in heaven to have something like this available in my first year of teaching! So with that my Complete Nebraska State Study Interactive Notebook Unit was born!

I do understand that this product doesn’t have the widest audience, mainly Nebraska teachers! I created it with 11 distinct sections that can be used in isolation or as a full-year curriculum so that teachers can pick and choose to fit their needs. This also gave me the opportunity to offer the Lewis & Clark section and The Oregon Trail section as separate, stand-alone items to market to the wider US audience. You don’t have to be a Nebraska teacher to use either of those!

The unit is broken into the following sections:

Section 1: Nebraska Maps, covers Nebraska’s location within the United States, surrounding states, populous cities, regions, waterways/aquifers, and weather.

Section 2: Nebraska State Symbols & Government, covers Nebraska’s flag, seal, state symbols (bird, tree, etc), federal government representatives, state representatives, introduction to the Unicameral Legislature, and the steps of how a bill becomes a law.

Section 3: Nebraska’s Notable People, Places, & Facts,  covers Nebraska’s notable people, places of interest, and fun facts about the state.

Section 4: Prehistoric Nebraska, covers Nebraska during Prehistoric times. Activities include vocabulary, Ashfall Fossil Beds, animals in Nebraska during the Ice Age, and the first humans in Nebraska.

Section 5: Indigenous Peoples of Nebraska, covers the tribes of Nebraska, the study of an Earthlodge, Earthlodge vs. Tipi comparison, and investigates the many uses of the bison.

Section 6: Lewis and Clark, covers the location and exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, maps the journey of Lewis & Clark, investigates supplies needed for the journey, a timeline of the journey, journals the journey, and the impact of the exploration. *This section is not Nebraska-specific and can be used nationwide!

Section 7: The Oregon Trail, covers the first pioneer settlers, mapping the Oregon Trail, investigates reasons for traveling the Oregon Trail, research supplies needed for the journey, hardships endured, journals the journey, and the Mormon Trail. *This section is not Nebraska-specific and can be used nationwide!

Section 8: Nebraska’s Road to Statehood, covers Nebraska’s road to statehood, including activities for the Kansas-Nebraska Act, the Homestead Act, housing on the prairie, life of a pioneer child, the impact of the railroad to NE, and NE becomes a state.

Section 9: The Age of Progress in Nebraksa 1870-20th Century, covers how the issues (suffrage, prohibition, race relations, Native Americans, child labor, worker’s rights, election reforms, political reforms, and anti-monopoly reforms) during this time period affected the people of Nebraska.

Section 10: WWII and the Cold War, includes 2 informational articles along with activities touching on Nebraska’s role in World War II, the Cold War, and the role of SAC and STRATCOM.

Section 11: Nebraska’s Major Industries, includes activities dealing with Nebraska’s major industries: crops, livestock, and other important NE industries.

All sections come in a printable Interactive Notebook format, a quick IntelliNotes™ format, and a digital Google Drive™ format.








Also included in each section is an informational slideshow to aid in instruction.

Click here to try out a sample activity from the unit.

All of these sections are available on their own so you can tailor it to your own classroom needs. You can also buy the entire unit together as one bundle at a reduced cost.

This can save you money and it includes everything you need to teach your entire state study for Nebraska. The alignment to the newly adopted 2019 Nebraska 4th Grade Social Studies State Standards is included with every section to make planning even easier!

In creating my resources I made a conscious effort to use only historical images and clip art. I know there are a lot of resources out there that utilize cutesy type clip art in their history products with a goal to entice children into thinking it is “fun”.  I don’t subscribe to that line of thinking, especially when dealing with topics such as war, slavery,  genocide, or in the depiction of indigenous people, enslaved people, or immigrants. I feel very strongly that using cartoonish imagery sends the wrong message to students preventing them from seeing the people and events as real and serious in nature.

You don’t have to make these topics “fun”, but you can very easily make these topics interesting through deep discussions.  Children are naturally empathetic and tolerant. It is a perfect time to tap into that empathy and tolerance as they learn of the atrocities of the past. This doesn’t need to be sensationalized or cutesy, these discussions of the events of the past taught in an honest and real depiction will engage the student’s interest. The deep discussions you have as you learn together will spark an understanding and appreciation for what has come before and hopefully will lead to the goal of learning this uncomfortable history, which is not to repeat it.

I hope this product can be the lifesaver for you that it would have been for me back in that first year of teaching! This covers everything that you need for the Nebraska study in an interactive way. Your students will be motivated, involved, and at the end have their very own Nebraska State Guide!

Engaging Social Studies Instruction in a Classroom Low on Time and Money

Engaging Social Studies Instruction in a Classroom Low on Time and Money

In an ideal world, every classroom would have an abundance of time and resources to dedicate to social studies instruction, enabling educators to engage their students in immersive, hands-on learning experiences. However, the reality for many teachers is quite different. Limited time and tight budgets can pose significant challenges when it comes to delivering effective social studies instruction. Nevertheless, with creativity, strategic planning, and a commitment to student engagement, educators can still provide meaningful learning experiences in this crucial subject area.

Practical strategies to make the most of social studies instruction in a classroom with constraints on time and money:

  • Prioritize Key Concepts: To maximize social studies instruction in a time-constrained classroom, it’s essential to focus on the most critical concepts and skills. Start by identifying the key standards and learning objectives for your grade level or curriculum. By prioritizing these concepts, you can ensure that your students receive a solid foundation in social studies even with limited time. I have created units that touch on key concepts which you can find in my store HERE.
  • Integrate Social Studies Across Subjects: Consider integrating social studies into other subjects whenever possible. This cross-curricular approach not only saves time but also enriches students’ understanding by connecting social studies concepts to other areas of their education. For example, you can incorporate historical events into English language arts through literature, or explore geography through mathematics. I offer several novel studies that address historical themes such as Number the Stars, Esperanza Rising, Projekt 1065, One Crazy Summer, Al Capone Does My Shirts, Little House in the Big Woods, Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes, and Blood on the River.
  • Leverage Technology: Inexpensive or even free digital resources can provide students with access to a wealth of information and interactive learning experiences. Websites, apps, and online videos can supplement your classroom instruction, making it more engaging and informative. Look for resources aligned with your curriculum and objectives to make the most of your limited budget. I have created units that incorporate free resources which you can find in my store HERE.
  • Use Primary Sources: Primary sources, such as letters, diaries, photographs, and documents from historical periods, can provide valuable insights into social studies topics. These resources are often available online for free or at low cost. Incorporate primary sources into your lessons to give students a firsthand look at historical events and perspectives.
  • I have created units that link to primary sources which you can find in my store HERE.
  • Collaborate with Community Resources: Take advantage of local museums, historical societies, and community organizations that may offer educational programs or field trips at little to no cost. These experiences can enhance your curriculum and provide students with a deeper understanding of the world around them. Collaborate with these resources to make social studies come alive for your students.
  • Encourage Student Inquiry: Foster curiosity and critical thinking by incorporating inquiry-based learning into your social studies instruction. Pose open-ended questions and encourage students to explore topics independently. This approach can be particularly effective when time is limited, as it empowers students to take ownership of their learning.
  • I have created units that utilize these strategies which you can find in my store HERE.
  • Embrace Flexible Instructional Models: Adopt flexible instructional models. Each of my units provides an interactive notebook format, a Google Drive format, and a short-on-time IntelliNotes format which you can find in my store HERE.
  • Make the Most of Classroom Materials: Utilize the resources you already have in your classroom. Repurpose materials, textbooks, and educational tools to create engaging social studies activities. The units that I provide HERE can easily pair with textbooks that you may have available.

Each of my units contains an informational slideshow that goes along with the activities to help if you have limited resources. I also include links to free online resources that can be utilized while working through the units.

It is critical that you keep social studies instruction in your classroom to help students understand cultural identity, foster civic responsibility, recognize the impact of historical events, promote critical thinking, and encourage empathy and tolerance. Social studies instruction is a vital component of a well-rounded education. By providing students with a deep understanding of their nation’s history, we empower them to become responsible, informed, and engaged citizens.

My product line for the 4th-6th grade student contains units that take you from the early days of North America to the beginning of the 20th Century.

There are 53 units total and they are:




























Download a free sample from each section to try before you buy!

All of the units follow a similar format and contain both a printable and Google Drive format and include:
  • Contain a cover sheet in both color and black & white.
  • Informational slideshow presentation for instruction
  • Links to helpful online resources.
  • Guide with a link to a Google Drive file and instructions on how to use it.
  • IntelliNotes™ format to use when you are short on time.
  • A tutorial guide showing how to make all foldable activities.
  • Two different vocabulary activity versions (foldable or flash card). The file also contains blank editable pages so that you can add or change the vocabulary to best fit your needs. **This is the only editable portion of the products.
  • Interactive notebook activities to cover each topic within the section to help students pinpoint and highlight the main ideas and concepts.
  • An End of Unit Assessment.
  • Answer keys for all included activities

From the first unit, Early People of North America:

Teaching social studies in a classroom with limited time and money requires adaptability and creativity. By focusing on essential concepts, integrating subjects, leveraging technology, using primary sources, collaborating with community resources, encouraging student inquiry, embracing flexible instructional models, and making the most of existing materials, educators can provide meaningful social studies instruction that prepares students for a well-rounded understanding of the world around them. Despite the challenges, dedicated teachers can inspire a lifelong love of social studies and foster critical thinking skills that extend far beyond the classroom.

You can buy each unit individually, topics bundled together at a 20% discount, or find the full-year bundle at a 25% discount.

Using Google Classroom to Survive E-Learning Days

Using Google Classroom to Survive E-Learning Days

While having your students physically present offers the best means to gauge their comprehension of a subject and identify the necessity for tailored instruction, circumstances may arise where this isn’t feasible. Increasingly, students equipped with laptops and various devices are transforming traditional “free” snow days into E-Learning days. This shift aims to prevent extending the school year by leveraging technology for remote learning when in-person classes are impractical.

man clearing snow with a snowblower in a blizzard

Periodic closures of schools due to natural disasters have been evident in various regions. For instance, in Nebraska, schools grappled with flooding issues both, in the spring and fall, resulting in chaotic interruptions to regular schedules. Additionally, student absences can range from short-term illnesses to prolonged health issues, leading to extended periods away from the classroom.

Furthermore, homeschooling communities often utilize e-learning within their cooperative groups or classes. The diverse array of reasons preventing direct in-person interaction with students underscores the significance of technology. It enables educators to virtually engage with their students during such challenging times, bridging the physical gap through digital platforms.

In my role as a curriculum writer, I prioritize flexibility by integrating numerous choices and options into my educational materials. Having been a teacher myself, I understand the constant influx of various challenges and unforeseen circumstances that a standard textbook isn’t equipped to handle. My educational philosophy revolves around the idea that a student ideally engages with the material using all their senses, transforming learning into solid knowledge. Therefore, all my resources feature a hands-on component—printable and tactile—encouraging collaborative engagement between students and teachers.

Recognizing the limitations of this ideal scenario, I’ve supplemented almost all my products with a Google Drive format, providing educators with alternative options. The Google Drive version encompasses the same content areas but allows for a paperless approach, utilizing Google Drive tools like Slides and Forms.

My portfolio predominantly includes a blend of printable and Google format materials, ranging from novel studies, social studies, to financial literacy resources. Additionally, I offer ELA and Math centers that are interactive on Google Drive while still being available in printable formats. Each download includes complete printable content and instructions on accessing and integrating the Google format files into your Google Drive, facilitating ease of use for educators.


After clicking on the provided link, your file will be visible in your Google Drive account under the name “Copy of File Name.” You can conveniently modify this title to your preference by clicking on the name box. Subsequently, you can assign these files to your students through Google Classroom.

How to use Novel Studies in an E-Learning Format?

In utilizing novel studies, your students will require a copy of the novel to accompany either the printable or Google Drive format provided. With the book in hand, they can seamlessly navigate through the study, engaging with comprehension questions, vocabulary activities, and extended writing tasks on Google Slides, mirroring the functionality available in the printable version. Teachers can track their progress through Google Classroom and I recommend conducting check-ins with small groups via platforms like Google Talk (or Google Hangouts/Google Chat) or Zoom. These sessions allow for discussions about the material read, ensuring comprehension and encouraging deeper exploration of the novel. It’s akin to the class discussions held in person, bridging the gap using technology.

All my novel studies feature assessments that can be completed through Google Forms. The multiple-choice assessments for comprehension and vocabulary are self-grading, significantly reducing grading time for teachers. However, the writing assessments, being more open-ended, cannot be self-graded. Typically consisting of one to two questions per assessment, these tasks can be submitted via Google Classroom for review and grading by the teacher.

How to use Social Studies and Financial Literacy Activities in an E-Learning Format?

My social studies and financial literacy resources are structured similarly to the novel studies in Google format, but they don’t require any specific books or textbooks. These materials feature Webquest links that offer learning content and include slideshow presentations in all social studies resources to facilitate students’ understanding and completion of activities.

Just like with the novel studies, Google Slides serve as the platform for both the presentations and activity completion. Additionally, in certain financial literacy activities such as the Escape Room exercises, Google Forms are integrated to delve deeper into the content alongside the use of Google Slides.

How to use ELA and Math Centers in an E-Learning Format?

The interactive ELA and Math Centers are designed to be completed using Google Slides. Students engage with the components to practice various skills, and teachers can oversee their progress through Google Classroom.

What can I do if my student doesn’t have access to equipment or the internet?

Many of us assume ready access to computers, laptops, and internet connectivity at home, yet some students lack this accessibility. In public schools, it’s our responsibility to ensure equity among our students. If your school lacks one-to-one capability or if a student doesn’t have home internet access, all my materials are provided in printable formats within the same product download. These activities are identical, just presented on paper rather than on a computer. You can distribute these packets to students for home use. To stay connected, consider communicating via phone calls, Facetime, or Skype for those with access via a parent’s cell phone. The content remains the same, only the format differs.

Technology offers various avenues to engage with students. While I advocate for a multisensory approach to learning—incorporating reading, writing, manipulation, and discussion—I recognize that there are instances where this isn’t feasible. In such cases, I hope my materials offer diverse options for utilization during e-learning scenarios.

Explore these free samples offered in my store, featuring both printable and Google Drive™ formats. They provide an opportunity for you to familiarize yourself with the functionalities of these resources.

Sample from my Wonder Novel Study
Sample Social Studies Activity

In this post titled “Tips for Using Google Drive in Your Classroom,” you’ll discover helpful suggestions on customizing Google Drive products to suit your specific requirements more effortlessly.


Bring Social Studies to Life with Blood on the River

Bring Social Studies to Life with Blood on the River

Social studies is a subject that often suffers from a reputation for being dull and dry. However, it doesn’t have to be that way. One powerful tool for bringing history to life and making social studies more engaging is through the use of historical fiction. Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone is a perfect example of a novel that can revitalize your social studies curriculum.


We earn a commission if you make a purchase, at no additional cost to you.


Historical fiction has the ability to transport students to a different time and place, immersing them in the world of the past. Blood on the River tells the real-life story of Samuel Collier who voyages to the New World along with Captain John Smith to colonize Jamestown in 1607, during the early years of the Jamestown settlement in Virginia. By reading this novel, students can step into the shoes of the young characters and experience the challenges and adventures of that era.

Benefits of Using Blood on the River in Your Classroom:

  • Provides Historical Accuracy: Blood on the River is a meticulously researched historical novel that transports readers to the early days of the Jamestown colony. Elisa Carbone takes students on a vivid journey through the eyes of Samuel Collier, a young boy who experiences the hardships and triumphs of the Jamestown settlement. By integrating historical accuracy into a captivating narrative, the book provides a reliable and immersive way to introduce students to the early history of the United States.

    Using this novel in your classroom, you can spark interest in history and encourage students to explore the roots of the nation, fostering a deeper understanding of the challenges and struggles faced by early settlers.

  • Opens Cross-Curriular Opportunites: Blood on the River offers opportunities for interdisciplinary learning. You can incorporate history, geography, and even science lessons into the study of this novel, making it a versatile addition to your curriculum. Connecting the themes and events in the book to other subjects fosters a holistic understanding of the historical period.
  • Fosters Empathy: Empathy is an essential skill for students to develop, and Blood on the River offers a unique opportunity to nurture this trait. By following the life of Samuel Collier and his relationships with other settlers, students are exposed to the emotional and social aspects of the Jamestown colony’s early days.

    The characters in the novel face hardships, dilemmas, and moral decisions. Readers can put themselves in the character’s shoes and learn to appreciate the challenges people faced in the past. Through this narrative, students can build empathy and develop a better understanding of the human experience, which extends to the present day.

  • Encourages Critical Thinking: The novel is an excellent platform for fostering critical thinking and analysis skills. It provides a rich tapestry of themes and situations that encourage students to reflect on complex issues such as leadership, survival, justice, and ethics. Engaging with the text can lead to stimulating class discussions, helping students refine their analytical and interpretive abilities.
  • Brings Cultural Awareness: Blood on the River delves into the interactions between Indigenous Peoples and the English settlers. This aspect of the novel can serve as a starting point for discussions about the cultural exchange and conflicts that characterized early American history. Understanding the differing perspectives of the Indigenous Peoples and the English settlers can expand students’ cultural awareness and encourage them to think more deeply about the impact of colonization.
  • Fosters Ethical Discussions: The novel provides a platform for discussing ethical dilemmas, such as the treatment of Indigenous Peoples and the morality of colonization. These discussions enable students to explore their own values and ethical standpoints, encouraging them to become more informed and compassionate individuals.
  • Offers Opportunities for Language and Literary Analysis: The book’s rich language and literary style provide an excellent opportunity for language arts and literary analysis. Students can explore the use of figurative language, symbolism, and the development of character and plot. This novel can be a great addition to your English and Social Studies curriculum, offering an engaging text for literary analysis.

Blood on the River by Elisa Carbone is a versatile and valuable resource that can significantly enhance the educational experience in your classroom. It offers historical accuracy, encourages empathy, fosters critical thinking, raises cultural awareness, and provides opportunities for language and literary analysis.

By incorporating this novel into your curriculum, you can provide your students with a multi-faceted learning experience that extends beyond the pages of a book. Blood on the River is an exceptional tool for educators looking to inspire a deeper understanding of history and a greater capacity for empathy and critical thinking in their students.

I offer a complete novel study to accompany Blood on the River for use in the classroom or homeschool. The unit includes both a printable format and a Google Drive™ format for use in a paperless classroom or with Google Classroom.


See what people are saying about the Blood on the River Novel Study by The Teaching Bank!



Try a free sample of the novel study for Blood on the River 


You can purchase this novel study at the following locations:

You can also use this novel study alongside my social studies units for the Eastern Woodlands Region US History Unit to learn about the Powhatan Empire and learn about the colonization of the Virginia Colonies, including Jamestown.

You can buy these units bundled with the Blood on the River Novel Study, at a discount.

Are you interested in reading about and sharing ideas with other educators on using children’s literature in your classroom? My goal is to bring together teachers and homeschoolers who teach grades 3-8 and use novels with their students. I’d love for you to join me to learn, share, and grow together!

Click here or the image below to join my Facebook group, Book Talk with The Teaching Bank!

Click to join Book Talk with The Teaching Bank

*The Teaching Bank participates in the Amazon Associate Program and earns a fee from qualifying purchases made on the Amazon.com site.

Serving up the Facts for Thanksgiving

Serving up the Facts for Thanksgiving

History is a complex story woven with threads of both triumphs and tribulations. One crucial part of this intricate narrative is the story of the Plymouth Colony and the origins of Thanksgiving. Teaching about the Plymouth Colony in a factual way is not just a matter of historical accuracy; it’s an essential tool for understanding the foundations of America. By presenting this history accurately, we can learn from it, appreciate the complexities of the past, and build a more inclusive and informed future.

Importance of teaching about the Plymouth Colony in a factual manner:

  • Preserves Historical Accuracy: The founding of the Plymouth Colony by a group of English Separatists seeking religious freedom, played a pivotal role in American history. Teaching about this colony in a factual way ensures that we preserve the historical accuracy of this event. Misrepresenting or simplifying the history of the Plymouth Colony can lead to misconceptions and a distorted view of America’s roots. By teaching facts such as the motivations behind the colony’s establishment, the Mayflower Compact, and the interactions between the Pilgrims and the indigenous Wampanoag people, we provide students with a solid foundation to understand the complexities of the past. This, in turn, allows them to critically analyze historical events and their consequences.
  • Promotes Empathy and Understanding: Factual teaching of the Plymouth Colony and the origins of Thanksgiving fosters empathy and understanding. Students learn not only about the hardships the Pilgrims faced but also about the significant assistance they received from the Wampanoag people. Teaching these historical facts encourages students to appreciate the cooperation and shared experiences that contributed to the survival of the Plymouth Colony. In turn, students can apply these lessons to contemporary issues, promoting inclusivity and cooperation in their own lives. Understanding the importance of cultural exchange and alliances in history helps students recognize the value of diversity and collaboration today.
  • Encourages Critical Thinking: When students learn about the Plymouth Colony and the origins of Thanksgiving in a factual manner, they are encouraged to think critically about historical events. They can explore the complexities of the past, such as the hardships faced by the Pilgrims, the impact of European diseases on indigenous populations, and the complexities of intercultural relationships. This critical thinking promotes a deeper understanding of history and the ability to evaluate historical events from multiple perspectives.
  • Develops the Recognition of the Ongoing Impact: Teaching about the Plymouth Colony and the origins of Thanksgiving in a factual way also allows students to recognize the ongoing impact of history. The consequences of interactions between European settlers and Indigenous Peoples are still felt today. By acknowledging the historical injustices and their contemporary implications, we can work towards reconciliation and justice.

Teaching about the Plymouth Colony and the origins of Thanksgiving in a factual way is essential for preserving historical accuracy, promoting empathy and understanding, encouraging critical thinking, and recognizing the ongoing impact of history. By approaching this topic with honesty and respect for all parties involved, we not only gain a deeper appreciation of our past but also equip future generations to build a more inclusive and informed future. It is through understanding the complexities of history that we can hope to create a more just and harmonious world.

I offer a unit for teaching about The Plymouth Colony to use in your classroom. This unit provides three formats for differentiation, an interactive notebook, an IntelliNotes™ note-taking format, and a Google Drive format for the paperless classroom.  



Try a free sample of the Plymouth Colony unit  



You can purchase this unit at the following locations:      



You can also find this resource in the following bundles:




The Teaching Bank’s Most Frequently Asked Questions-FAQ

The Teaching Bank’s Most Frequently Asked Questions-FAQ

Here are a few of the most frequent questions that I am asked from buyers, and potential buyers, about my resources. Hopefully, you will find these answers helpful.

If you cannot find the answer to your question. Please email me directly.Email The Teaching Bank

The Teaching Bank PDF FAQs5 The Teaching Bank PDF FAQs6


If you still have questions, please email me directly.Email The Teaching Bank