Regions by Rail

Students will learn the names and locations of states in certain regions of the United States.


  1. Begin the lesson by asking students if they have ever taken a train trip. Ask them where they went and what the trip was like. Ask them to compare train travel with other kinds of travel (for example, car or plane travel).
  2. Distribute the Regions by Rail worksheet and the U.S. maps
  3. Have students go to the Amtrak's Trip Planner website. Students use an Outline Map of the United States.
  4. Tell students that they are going to use the Trip Planner to explore three different train routes and then record information about these routes on their worksheets.
  5. Take students through the first item on the worksheet as an example. For Region: West, Route: Seattle to Los Angeles, first click the word "West" or the western part of the map on the site. (Explain to students that these are Amtrak's transportation regions and are more general than the ones they are or will be learning about.) This takes you to information about the western train route.
  6. Tell students to find the name of the train that travels from Seattle to Los Angeles by looking at the names of cities listed next to the highlighted train names. (The answer is Coast Starlight.)
  7. Click "Coast Starlight." Point out the pictures on this page that show scenes you'll see along the route. Click "Route Map" at the top of the page for a detailed map. On the Route Map, show students how to match the train name with the colored route line and how to trace the route from beginning to end.
  8. As you trace, tell students to list the state you start in, the state(s) you pass through, and the state in which you'll arrive by comparing the Route Map with the U.S. maps you've provided. (Note: The Route Map includes cities but not state names.).
  9. Now have students form pairs and have them complete the Regions by Rail worksheet. When they have finished, review their answers.
Students explore an online resource and learn the names and locations of states by planning a virtual train trip.
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