I still remember the first time I crossed the Mississippi River...
I was 14 years old and headed to Tupelo, Mississippi, home to Elvis's birthplace and that year's United States Specialty Sports Association's Regional Softball Tournament. Growing up in Oklahoma where our rivers are roughly the size of what residents of other states call a small creek, I was spellbound by the width of the Mighty Mississippi. The I-40 bridge heading east towards Memphis was the longest bridge I remembered ever crossing and the power of the rushing water below the bridge left me in complete awe.
True to her style, my Mom had a great travel itinerary planned out for us for after the tournament concluded. We left Tupelo (after a rather disappointing tournament) and headed to Memphis. There we toured Graceland which was really rather impressive in and of itself, but Elvis's automobile collection was amazing and a real delight.
Before we left Memphis we headed to Mud Island River Park and I fell in love with the Mississippi! The museum is located on a peninsula stretching out into the Mississippi and boasts the normal facts, photos, and displays that all museums do, which is of course fascinating. Outside the museum is the real treat...a scale model of the lower Mississippi! Here I took off my socks and shoes and waded through the mini Lower "Mississippi" all the way to the 3 feet deep Gulf of Mexico pool.
That "trip" down the Mississippi has stuck with me ever since...traveling the living, breathing scale model of that mighty river was the perfect way to learn more about the river and captivate my young mind!
With this memory in mind, I decided to send Lizzy Jane, our brave American Heritage Adventure Letter explorer, on an epic tour of the Mississippi River via a cruise ship. I've included some interesting links for you below as well as video links for each stop in our Mississippi River Letter!
Need a copy of the letter? You can grab it HERE!
Mississippi River Unit Study Ideas
If you're looking for some ideas and books to help you learn more about the Mississippi River, here's a what we did in our homeschool for our Mississippi River unit study a few years ago:
- We read Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling, a lovely story about Minn, a female snapping turtle who travels down the Mississippi. As we read we plotted Minn's journey down the Mississippi River on a map, calculated the distances she traveled, and talked about the animals and landmarks she saw along the way.
- We read Who Was Mark Twain? by April Jones Prince and completed a character map for him (you can find our character mapping guide here it's one of my absolute favorite ways to help kids organize what they're learning about people they study).
- We listened to the audiobook for Mark Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer and The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn.
- We read Where Is the Mississippi River? by Dina Anastasio to learn all about the Mighty Mississippi River.
- Finally we looked through pictures we had taken at the Mississippi River on a trip through Tennessee a few years earlier.
Mississippi River Letter Video Guide
Learn some Mississippi River Slang!
"Riffraff", "highfalutin'", "letting off steam"...learn all about Mississippi River Slang!
A Trip Down the Mighty Mississippi
Oak Alley Plantation—Vacherie, Louisiana
Houmas House & Gardens—Darrow, Louisiana
Manchac Swamp—Ponchatoula, Louisiana
Rosedown Plantation—St. Francisville, LA
Monmouth Historic Inn and Gardens
Vicksburg National Military Park—Vicksburg, Mississippi
BB King Museum
Gateway Arch—St. Louis, Missouri
Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum
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