What it is: Animated Atlas: The Growth of a Nation is an animated video that teaches students about American expansion. The video allows for interaction as it plays. Students can click on any state to learn more about when and how it became a state.
There is also a great interactive time line at the bottom of the animation that students can explore more in depth. I really like the look of this website, it makes me nostalgic remembering the computer activities I used as a kid. I can’t guarantee that our students will get such a kick out of the graphics. The ten minute presentation takes students from the original 13 states and shows them the gradual expansion.
At any point students can click on a territory or state for more information. The time line pointer moves along with the presentation but students can click on a date for more information. The interactive time line goes from 1790 to 2000.
How to integrate Animated Atlas into the classroom: This interactive is a good one for helping students to visualize the expansion of the United States from the original 13 colonies. The site is packed full of information with the ability to learn more about a time period, state, or territory.
Use this site as an overview of the growth of America. If students aren’t loving the graphics, have them gather information and create a 2009 (almost 2010!) version of the site. This site could be used whole class with an interactive whiteboard but I think it would allow for more exploration as a center activity or individual computers.
Tips: When you play Animated Atlas you have several options: play all the way through, 1789-1853, The Civil War, and Post Civil War. This makes it easy to chunk the lesson or split students into groups.