T is for Tar Heel book and NC notebooking page

Fun and Simple Ways to Learn the 50 US States

Ad for Listening to Learn US States with two sets of directions and two pictures for the Maryland directions next to the product title.

The US States are a fun subject to study with children and there are lots of different ways to go about it.  Below, I share exactly how we set up our lessons as well as a variety of multi-sensory strategies we also mixed in for fun.  Near the end is a FREE printable you can download!

Blog post cover Fun and Easy Ways to Learn the 50 States

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Learning US States in Preschool

I first introduced our boys to a map of the United States with a floor puzzle when they were preschoolers.  My oldest loves sports so I printed out the names and logos of the NFL teams onto cardstock and taped them on the appropriate states with painter’s tape and he was totally hooked.

This was the puzzle that we used:

Melissa & Doug USA Map Floor Puzzle - 51 Pieces (2 x 3 feet) - FSC Certified
  • Learn location, shape, and capitals of all 50 states
  • 51 sturdy, extra-thick cardboard pieces
  • Wipe-clean surface
  • 24" x 36" assembled
  • Makes a great gift for 6- to 10-year-olds, for hands-on, screen-free play; product made with FSC-certified materials that support responsible forestry; applies to new inventory only (FSC C156584)

We also enjoyed collecting the commemorative quarters from each state and placing them on a map of the United States.  It exposed the boys to the names and location of each state.  The picture on the back of the quarter for each state led us to research the story behind the picture.

50 State Quarters Map (includes space for the Philadelphia and Denver mints!)
  • Peter Pauper Press (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 3 Pages - 08/31/2013 (Publication Date) - Peter Pauper Press (Publisher)

Formal Learning of US States

Once the boys were in 1st or 2nd grade, we started more “formal lessons” about the US States three times a week.  We would pick one state per week to learn.  After finding it on the map, we would use the following routine.

US State Songs

First, we watched videos of each state’s song and other songs related to that state using State Songs of the 50 States Online Course from Music in our Homeschool.  My youngest son especially loved easing into each lesson this way.  The videos chosen for each song do a great job of highlighting some sites or history about the particular state. And the lessons provide all sorts of facts about the state like the state nickname, abbreviation, symbols and more.  You can even download the sheet music for the state songs if you would like.

Graphic for the State Songs of the 50 US States Music Course showing iconic American bridges such as the Golden Gate Bridge

US States Notebooking Pages

The second time we learned about the state each week, we pulled out our notebooking pages. (Although, after a few months my youngest son started pulling his out while he watched the videos above.) We loved these notebooking pages from The Crafty Classroom.

Indiana notebooking page

The boys colored the pictures while I read from a book about that state. As we found specific facts in the book, they filled in the information on their notebooking sheet. At the end of the reading, they picked an additional fact or two that was interesting to them to write on their notebooking page. We kept these in a three-ring notebook with a US map in the front to color each state as they finished the corresponding notebooking page.

Books about the United States

Our local library has all sorts of books about the states, but our favorite series by far was the series of alphabet books like this one:

E Is For Empire: A New York Alphabet
  • Hardcover Book
  • Ann Burg (Author)
  • English (Publication Language)
  • 40 Pages - 04/01/2003 (Publication Date) - Sleeping Bear Press (Publisher)

There is one for each of the states.  They contain great drawings of all sorts of facts about the state’s history, ecology, and people. There are in-depth explanations of at least 26 facts in each book.  We read aloud through some of the book over the second and third lessons each week.  Sometimes, I read everything in the book.  Sometimes, I just read the rhymes for each letter and the boys chose if they wanted to have the whole page read so they could learn more.

I liked to get the hard copy of these books so the boys could flip through them on their own, but they are also available electronically through Hoopla, which is a service our library supplies.  This was great for weeks I forgot to plan ahead and needed to pull the book up quickly!

US State Sorting Mats

If you have been around the blog for awhile, you know I love our sorting mats and so of course, I had to create some for the US States.  They are organized regionally in groups of five. Children match cards to each state that contain information like the state flower or animal, the state flag, the outline of the state, when it entered the union and more!

At the end of each week, I pulled out the state we just learned as well as any states we had already learned about in that region.  So some weeks there was just one mat with cards from a few other states to make them think harder.  Other weeks there were multiple state mats with the corresponding cards.


Sorting mats for Florida, NC and Alabama with an answer key and corresponding cards.

Learn more about the State Sorting Mats here.

The sorting mats were a great way to assess how much the children learned without it feeling like a test!  They also allowed them to practice what they learned and use their critical thinking skills to figure out the information they hadn’t committed to memory, yet!

Listening to Learn US States

I have since added another great resource to our store…Listening to Learn US States.  There are two sets of directions to learn about each state.  One focuses on interesting places on a map of the state and the other focuses on symbols and other facts of the state with a notebooking style page.  To get an idea of what the directions are like, download this FREE set of directions about the United States as a whole.

Two printed directions, printed map, and printed notebooking with title of product, Listening to Learn US States Midwest.

Less Formal Learning of US States

We also used some other fun activities to change lessons up.  Sometimes we took a week off from learning a state and used these activities instead.  Or we included them in a Fun Friday or a family game night.

Map Work

Several years ago, I found a relief map of the United States at our local homeschool consignment store that we always pulled out when studying the states.  A few summers ago, I discovered a new way to use it!

Sarah Mackenzie shares the idea in her book, Teaching From Rest.  She suggests giving your child a blank map along with your educational map and have him fill in some of the information, such as five states and one or two bodies of water.

Then the next day, just give him the blank map and see how much he can fill in on his own from memory.  Once he has done this, give him the educational map again to fill in anything he has missed and add a few more pieces of information.

Continue in this manner so your child commits a few more pieces of the map to memory each day you work on it.  My older son loves this activity!  To him, it is a competition with himself to see how much he can commit to memory.

US State Games

Games are always a fun way to review information and the Scrambled States of America is one we like to play.  The goal is to match a ‘riddle’ to one of your states, such as “Is north of Nebraska” or “Capital starts with S or T”.

I love Professor Noggin’s Trivia Games and would love to buy them all!  There is one for the United States, but I have not purchased it, yet.

Professor Noggin's Geography of the United States - An Educational Trivia Based Card Game For Kids - Trivia, True or False, and Multiple Choice - Ideal for Classrooms, Students, and Kids - Ages 7 +
  • Professor Noggin's Geography of the United States is an educational card game that is both fun and useful!
  • This interactive card game features trivia, true or false, and multiple choice questions.
  • Perfect for Kids, Students, Classrooms, and Tutors
  • 2 to 8 Players
  • Ages 7 +

 For apps, Stack the States has been a fun one!

Stack the States
  • Hundreds of unique questions
  • Interactive map and 50 state flash cards
  • Choose any of the 50 friendly-looking states as your avatar
  • Create up to six player profiles
  • Collect all 50 states and track your progress on a personalized map

Ticket to Ride is a fun game that is played on a map of the United States.  It is a great for family game night.

Ticket to Ride Board Game - A Cross-Country Train Adventure for Friends and Family! Strategy Game for Kids & Adults, Ages 8+, 2-5 Players, 30-60 Minute Playtime, Made by Days of Wonder
  • FAST-PACED STRATEGY: Race to build your train routes across iconic American cities in this award-winning board game.
  • COMPETITIVE FUN: Challenge friends and family in a 2-5 player game, where every move counts.
  • COLLECT TRAIN CARDS: Strategically gather train cards to claim routes and earn points.
  • TICKET TO SUCCESS: Plan your routes wisely with ticket cards for bonus points.
  • ENDLESS REPLAYABILITY: Enjoy hours of entertainment with this classic board game.

FREE US State Matching Worksheets

A simple activity to assess what your children have learned is to give them a worksheet to match the state name to some of the state facts.  You can download these Matching US States and Flags Worksheets for FREE!  There are ten worksheets with each one containing five different states.  The states are organized into the same regions as the US Sorting Mats.

Two printed worksheets. Each showing the outline, name and flag for five different states for children to match by drawing a line.

Do you have any other resources for studying US geography?  Let us know so we can share them with others!

To Learn More About the Sorting Mats:

Cover for US Geography Sortings Mats Southeastern States






Cover for US Geography Sorting Mats: Western StatesProduct cover of US Geography Sorting Mats Bundle of All 50 States