The West region of the United States consists of 11 states, including Alaska and Hawaii. It's known for the Rocky Mountains and the Mojave Desert. It's also known for its warm climate in some areas, but cold climate in others. The West is an exciting place to visit with popular tourist attractions such as Disneyland, Yellowstone National Park, and Las Vegas. It’s time to learn all the interesting facts that make Western United States a wonderful place to live! In this guide, you will find exciting activities that cover climate, culture, geography, resources, places to visit, and completing a map of the West region of the United States.
The geography of the West is quite diverse, including everything from coastlines, mountain ranges, deserts, valleys, and even a rainforest! The four mountain ranges in this region are the Rockies, the Coast Ranges, the Sierra Nevada, and the Cascade Mountains. The Sierra Nevada Mountains consist of some volcanoes! Even though they're extinct, some are still active, like Mount Saint Helens, which erupted in 1980 and caused major damage and even death. Between these mountains lies many valleys and rivers, which provide rich soil to the region. The Great Basin, which lies in the middle of the West region, is a low, bowl shaped landform that's lower than the land surrounding it. The flat part of this basin is covered mostly by the Great Basin Desert and the Mojave Desert. Within the Mojave lies Death Valley, the hottest, driest, and lowest place in the United States. Some other interesting geography of the West region are the Great Salt Lake and a rainforest that runs along the California coast.
The West has a very diverse climate due to its vast size; temperatures and weather can range dramatically even within the same state! For example, Washington and Oregon have mild seasons with heavy rainfall, while states like Wyoming, with higher elevations, have heavy snowfall that takes months to melt. California, which is located along the coast at low elevation, is the home of one of the hottest places on Earth, Death Valley, whereas the average temperature in Colorado is about 45 degrees Fahrenheit.
A natural resource is something that occurs in nature and can be used to make products that contribute to a region’s economy. There are many useful natural resources of the west region like trees, potatoes, pineapples, salt, and oil. Many mineral deposits, including copper, gold, and silver, can be found within the Rocky Mountains, making the West an excellent source to find minerals. Perhaps the most useful mineral found in the West is silicon; this mineral is used to make computer parts. Due to the abundance of silicon, thousands of software and other technology companies are located in what's known as Silicon Valley, an area in San Francisco.
The Western region is rich in culture, and food plays a big part in that. The Pacific Ocean provides delicious seafood like salmon, shellfish, and oysters, which are very popular in the region. Because of the many Chinese and Japanese immigrants, Asian foods such as sushi, chow mein, and egg foo young are popular in the West. If you travel to Hawaii, you can expect to partake in a pig roast, or a luau. Due to its close proximity to the beautiful coast, the West is known for surfing. Many other outdoor activities include hiking, mountain climbing, and kayaking. In the winter, skiing and snowboarding are popular, with many people traveling to the various ski resort towns in Colorado and Utah. In Alaska, dogsledding is a popular sport, and in Hawaii, a dance called the hula is known around the world. Since Los Angeles is the entertainment hub of the United States, the West celebrates all kinds of music such as pop, rap, R&B, and country western.
Some people travel to Hawaii for the sunshine and the beaches, while others enjoy skiing in Colorado and Utah. The tourist attractions in the West are also incredible! The world’s first National Park, Yellowstone, is located in the West. Mostly in Wyoming, the park covers over 3,000 square miles and had over 4 million visitors in 2019! Other popular destinations include Disneyland Park in Anaheim, California, Devils Tower in Wyoming, and the shows, casinos, and nightlife in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Space Needle, located in the heart of Seattle, Washington, is one of the most photographed structures in the world. It was built for the 1962 World Fair and is 605 feet tall. People from all over the world travel to Los Angeles, California to see the sets where movies are made, and maybe even bump into a celebrity!
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Our country is filled with diverse culture, land, attractions, and so much more. The regions of our country are all different in so many ways, making it important for students to understand how and why. While studying the Western region, students will show what they have learned through posters, spider maps, and other creative graphic organizers. The combined use of illustrations and words allows students with different learning styles to showcase their work in unique ways. Teachers may use the provided templates, or encourage students to start from scratch, allowing for more of a challenge and differentiated approach. Teachers may also assign an extension activity where the students create a report or presentation with all their storyboards to share.
Begin by introducing the environmental challenges faced by the West, such as water scarcity, wildfires, and the need for land conservation. Explain their significance and impact on the region's ecosystems, communities, and economy.
Offer background information on each environmental challenge. Discuss the causes and factors contributing to water scarcity, including droughts, overuse, and competing water demands. Explain the causes of wildfires, such as climate change, forest management practices, and human activities. Describe the importance of land conservation in preserving natural habitats and biodiversity.
Guide students in exploring the impacts and consequences of these environmental challenges. Discuss the effects of water scarcity on agriculture, ecosystems, wildlife, and human communities. Examine the ecological, social, and economic impacts of wildfires, including loss of habitat, property damage, air quality issues, and community displacement. Highlight the importance of land conservation in protecting endangered species, preserving natural resources, and maintaining the overall health of ecosystems.
Engage students in a discussion on mitigation strategies and solutions for each environmental challenge. Explore sustainable water management practices, such as water conservation, watershed management, and the development of alternative water sources. Discuss strategies for preventing and managing wildfires, including forest thinning, controlled burns, and community preparedness. Examine the role of land conservation efforts, such as protected areas, habitat restoration, and sustainable land use practices.
Encourage students to consider the importance of community engagement and advocacy in addressing these environmental challenges. Discuss the role of government agencies, non-profit organizations, and local communities in implementing solutions and promoting awareness. Encourage students to explore ways they can get involved, such as participating in conservation projects, supporting environmental initiatives, and advocating for sustainable practices.
Engage students in reflection activities to reinforce the concepts discussed. Prompt them to consider the personal actions they can take to contribute to the solution of these environmental challenges, both in their daily lives and through broader initiatives. Encourage them to share their reflections and action plans with the class.
The natural resources that can be found in the West region include: trees, pineapples, potatoes, salt, and oil. You will also find minerals such as copper, gold, and silver within the Rocky Mountains.
The West has so many wonderful places to visit! Some of these places include: Disneyland, Las Vegas, Yellowstone National Park, The Space Needle, and so much more!