Eva Marina Homeschools

Friday, February 8, 2013

Geography: Learning the 50 States

Ignacio has always been fascinated by maps and atlases.  He took an early interest in learning the 50 states.  He knows them all.  He recognizes them by shape or name and knows where they are located on a map.  I’ve had multiple inquiries on how best to help kids learn their states.  I hope you find the following advice helpful.

When it comes to US geography, Ignacio’s absolute favorite series is “The Scrambled States of America” by Laurie Keller.  He has both the original book as well as the sequel, “The Scrambled States of America TalentShow”.  He also has the puzzle, as seen in the above picture, and the DVD.  This series is great in aiding with their recognition of the states because the states become characters.  I can ask him about any state in the series and he’ll know if they are a boy or a girl, what their personality is like, who their neighbors are, and what they did in the stories. 

We have quite a few globes and maps available to him.  He is always free to explore them.  He even chose a US map wall decal to decorate the wall next to his bed.  I don’t think they sell the exact one I bought him but this one is cute, too.

We have a variety of map puzzles.  The best ones are the ones where the pieces are cut into the actual shapes of the states.

As for apps and games there are a few that we use.  We really enjoy Stack The States.  This app was originally only available for iPods and iPads.  While it is still not available for android or the nook, you can purchase it for Windows.  Ignacio plays on our desktop.  We also use the Quizard Flashcards app for the nook.  There are so many subjects you can use, among them are a few sets for the states.  While you can choose to go through them as traditional flashcards, we tend to use the Quiz option.  It will flash a state map and give you four state names to choose from.  If you get it wrong you can try again.  At the end it will tell you how long it took to complete and how many times he answered incorrectly.  There is even an option to play as a word search puzzle.  He also loves playing map puzzle games online.  Owl & Mouse is a great free site and offers a large variety of map puzzle games.  This link is for their US states puzzle, you can choose to play with or without outlines and can also choose to match capitols.  The puzzles are timed, his record for the states puzzle is right around three minutes.

While he knows all of his states, he is still in the process of learning the capitols.  I’d say he knows about half of them right now.  I tend to follow his lead when it comes to learning geography, I know we are ahead of the game.  I also let him choose books about individual states when we go to the library.  Sometimes he likes to check out travel DVDs about the states, too.  He likes to see what they are like.

We have a variety of books, but here are the ones we are especially fond of:

Smart About the Fifty States by Susan Saunders, Joan Holub, True Kelley, Jon Buller, Maryann Cocca-Leffler, Dana Regan, and Susan Schade
The United States of America: A State by State Guide by Millie Miller and Cyndi Nelson 

I didn't bother listing The Scrambled States of America, because I linked them at the top of this post.  I really can't stress how great they are.  I should mention that we also found some workbooks in the dollar bin at Target that he really enjoyed.

I'll update this post if I come across other good sources or new favorites.  You might want to bookmark it.  I hope to follow up with another post focusing on world geography.  I thought it would be easier to split the two.

I'll be back soon, take care.