The US States are a fun subject to study with children and there are lots of different ways to go about it. I thought I would share some of the multi-sensory strategies that we have used.
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Puzzles of the United States
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:
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.
Books about the United States
Our local library has all sorts of books about the states, but our favorite series by far is the series of alphabet books like this one:
There is one for each of the states. They contain great drawings of all sort of facts about the state’s history, ecology, and people. There are in-depth explanations of at least 26 facts in each book. We would read aloud through some of the book each day throughout a week.
I like to get the hard copy of these books so the boys can 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 States Notebooking Pages
Around 1st and 2nd grade, we became more structured in our study of US States. Each week we would read a book in the series above and we would complete a notebooking page about the state. We loved these notebooking pages from The Crafty Classroom.
The boys would color the pictures while I read and fill in the information as we found it in the book. At the end of the reading, they would pick a fact or two to write on their notebooking page. In the front of the notebook, we kept a US map so they could color in each state as they finished the corresponding notebooking page.
A few years ago, I found a relief map of the United States at our local homeschool consignment store and so we always pull this out when studying the states. This summer, though, 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.
For apps, Stack the States has been a fun one!
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 start creating some for the US States. They are a great way for me to assess how much the boys have learned without it feeling like a test! They also allow them to practice what they have learned and use their critical thinking skills to figure out the information they haven’t committed to memory, yet! The first two sets are done and here is what they look like:
You can check them out here:
Do you have any other resources for studying US geography? Share them below.
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