Objective: Students will identify South Dakota waterbodies based on geographic location and then design a water flag.

Materials: South Dakota state map 1:500,000 scale, construction paper, art materials (markers, scissors, etc.)

Background: Somewhere in the mists of prehistory, humankind first selected a special symbol by which a person or tribe could be distinguished from others. These images, which anthropologists call totems, became the tribal symbols which over time developed into the emblems distinctive of nations. Eventually these took the form of the insignia from which we derive our flags.

The earliest national symbols were ordinary images or badges wrought in metal, stone or wood, and carried to the top of a pole or spear. Thus, Egypt marched to war beneath the sacred emblems of their gods or the fan of feathers of the pharaohs, while the Assyrian insignia was a circular disk bearing a running bull or two bulls tail to tail. Both of these also had a small streamer attached to the staff immediately below the device. These were probably the first flags.

There are 66 counties in South Dakota. Each county has some type of waterbody in it. Assign each student a county.

Allow each student to study the South Dakota state map. He/she will need to locate his/her assigned county on the map and then determine what the waterbodies are in that county.

Have each student draw the shape of their county on a large piece of construction paper. Referring to the state map, have him/her add each water body in his/her county. Have each student carefully label the waterbodies in his/her county.

Encourage students to color/paint their county. After he/she has completed whatever artwork he/she adds to their drawing, have him/her carefully cut around the edges of the county. This will be his/her flag.

Display flags around the classroom.

As an additional activity, encourage each student to go on-line and find out any history about their county that is available. As a class project, have each student present his/her flag and do an oral presentation about the interesting history of their flag.

Using the state map, list the counties in South Dakota in alphabetical order. Divide class into small groups of 3-5 students. Have each group compose a song using all the county names in the lyrics. Hold a performance for the 3rd grade students in your school.

Divide the class into 4 groups. Using the state map, assign each group a section of South Dakota, dividing the state into quarters. Have each group identify the largest or longest river or creek in their assigned area. Next have the group determine all the tributaries to their identified waterbody. Hold a discussion with each group about the possible history of their choice: why specific tributaries feed their river/creek; what would happen if someone put a dam on their river/creek; due to location, who uses the water, etc.
Grade Level:

Subject Areas:
Social Studies, Visual Arts

SD Standards for 4th grade:
Social Studies

Visual Arts
Standard 1


Observation, Interpreting Information, Analysis

Prior Preparation: Read to your class, "South Dakota" part of the One Nation series by Patricia K. Kummer.


Home | Trunks | Presenter Kits | Class Activities | Teaching Units | Contact Us