The adventures of a fourth grade teacher in East Central Illinois.

Celebrating Champaign-Urbana History

At the start of the year we started our social studies curriculum by learning about early European exploration of the world and the pre-Columbian peoples of North and South America. Then we focused in on the settlement of North America, especially along the Atlantic coast. From there we learned about the British colonies that eventually banded together in rebellion and became the first United States of America. The next topic was the American expansion westward along overland routes and the pursuit of our nation’s Manifest Destiny. We went to Springfield and visited the Illinois State Museum and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum where we learned about our state’s early history.

We are in the last few weeks of school and we are now focusing in just a little bit more to learn about the history of our county and our city. The City of Urbana is located in Champaign County, yet our history is inextricably tied to the history of Champaign, our sister city to the west. And so for the next couple of weeks, the fourth graders at Wiley will be celebrating Champaign-Urbana history in place of our mix-up math groups.

To guide us in our learning and our celebrating, we are using a book written by former Urbana native and local Illinois author, Alice B. McGinty. By a strange twist of fate, I got to meet Ms. McGinty during the Illinois Young Authors Conference this past weekend and was thrilled to recognise her name on the book we will be using, aptly titled Celebrating Champaign-Urbana History. We will also be turning to websites, such as the Champaign Public Library and the Urbana Free Library, to learn more about our community and how it went from a noticeably large grove of trees in an otherwise wide open flat expanse and grew into the sixth largest metropolitan area in Illinois.

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