Grade: Elementary
Subject: Geography

#3452. Diary of a Worm Secret Agents

Geography, level: Elementary
Posted Wed Apr 13 07:52:31 PDT 2005 by Michelle Anthony (
Activity Time: 1-2 hours

By Doreen Cronin
(Secret Agents)

2nd grade Social Studies/Geography Activity

Objective: This map activity will incorporate literature while familiarizing students with the location of Washington D.C. (the capitol) and President Bush's hometown of Crawford, TX. They will learn how to find these locations on a map and give directions from one place to another.

Applicable TEKS (Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills Requirements):
(5) Geography. The student uses simple geographic tools such as maps, globes, and photographs. The student is expected to:
(A) use symbols, find locations, and determine directions on maps and globes; and
(B) draw maps to show places and routes.
(6) Geography. The student understands the locations and characteristics of places and regions. The student is expected to:
(A) identify major landforms and bodies of water, including continents and oceans, on maps and globes;
(B) locate the community, Texas, the United States, and selected countries on maps and globes; and
(B) compare information from different sources about places and regions.

Strategy and procedure: As "secret agents" assisting the President in a secret mission (like the worm on the 4th day of July in his diary), the students will help the President retrieve several important packages he left behind (his wife's birthday presents) in Crawford, TX. After reading The Diary of a Worm and discussing the entry of July 4th (what fun it would be as secret agents), they will guide the president from Washington D.C. through designated states (in route) to arrive safely and timely. The worm will be their informant and provide them with the necessary information needed to make the trip (video taped clues by "the worm," which you will need to record in advance and give hints like: "You'll need to take a route directed "southwest" to go to Texas from Washington D.C."). Let them discuss the best route (consider alternate routes, weather factors, etc.) and map it with the flag toothpicks so they can visualize the trip. Have them record their decisions in their "black books." Depending on your students, you can choose to cover how distance is measured, time traveled, etc. Once they have traveled across the U.S. and learned how directions, maps, etc. guide us, they will get to go "undercover" to the first lady's birthday party in Washington D.C., where they will present her with the President's gifts. Throw a "pretend" birthday party for the first lady, let the children "dress up," and have them present boxes (empty, gift wrapped) at the front of the classroom (You might invite your principal/ a teacher to be your first lady). Have cupcakes for kids to eat, if you choose. If time permits, you can also incorporate a writing activity for follow-up, and let the students write a letter to the president explaining the steps they went through to "deliver the packages."

Whew! What would the president have done without the help of his secret agents!

Materials: The Diary of a Worm, by Doreen Cronin, a large US Map, with cardinal directions (N, S, E, W), toothpick flags to designate where our destinations are on the map, video taped clues from "the worm" about how to get from the Capitol to Crawford, then back to Washington D.C., "little black books" for each student to record the clues in, empty boxes wrapped for a birthday party, cupcakes for students to eat at the "party," a mock thank you note from the president for helping him get the packages to Washington D.C. in time for the party, paper, and pencil.

Focus: The ability to utilize directions and recognize locations on a US Map.

Closure: Discuss the adventure the students just experienced and reiterate the lesson they learned. Review the directions we used and discuss the locations we visited. Talk briefly about the states that were passed over in route, and how timely the trip may or may not have been if a different route had been taken. Let the children write a 5-minute reflection on what they learned in the form of a letter to the President.