Search form

Featured Graphic

Click here to return to the article

What's in a Name?


  • Language Arts
  • Social Sciences
  • Ed. Technology


  • 3-5
  • 6-8

Brief Description

Students use clues to identify U.S. cities with unusual names and plot them on a map.



  • use context clues to identify the names of U.S. cities with unusual names,
  • use library and/or Internet sources to find the geographic location of a list of U.S. cities,
  • demonstrate abilities to plot cities on a map.


geography, place, cities, United States, name, unusual, map

Materials Needed

  • copies of What's in a Name?
  • pens or pencils
  • computers with Internet access
  • library sources or Internet map sites
  • pushpins or markers
  • United States map that shows each state

Lesson Plan

  • Ask students to name some cities in the United States. Give students a few unusual city names (for example, Santa Claus, Indiana; Bug, Kentucky; Bird in Hand, Pennsylvania). Ask students whether they think the names are real or made up.
  • Distribute What's in a Name? work sheet. Tell students to use the clues on the sheet to figure out other unusual city names.
  • When everyone has finished, check the answers as a group.
  • Arrange students into small groups. Assign each group three or four cities from the work sheet. Tell students to search library or Internet sources to locate the cities on a map. Possible sites include MapQuest or Bing Maps.
  • When everyone has finished, have each group use pushpins or markers to plot their assigned cities.

    Variations for younger students:

  • Arrange students into pairs or small groups to complete the work sheet.
  • Provide a word bank with the city names in alphabetical order to help students complete the work sheet.


Evaluate students' work sheet answers and map skills.
ANSWER KEY: 1. Cash, 2. Bacon, 3. Nice, 4. Dinosaur, 5. Sweet, 6. Noodle, 7. Boos, 8. Embarrass, 9. Volcano, 10. Forks, 11. Sisters, 12. Yell, 13. Hurricane, 14. Odd, 15. Zigzag.

Lesson Plan Source

Education World

Submitted By

Lois Lewis

National Standards

Social Sciences:

Language Arts:


Copyright © 2010, 2015 Education World