10 Ways to Learn the 50 States

My 7th grader's homeschool program doesn't start until September 1 and she's been bored lately so this week we picked up with memorizing the 50 states, their capitals, and their 2 letter postal abbreviations.

At first she was just using the great free online software at Sheppards Software's USA Games to learn and drill the states and capitals everyday.  She's learning them by regions. Then, at some point each day, I orally quiz her.  It's being going very well, alhamdulillah, but she still had a lot of time on her hands (even with other subjects she's been studying) so I decided to branch out and have her try other activities.  So here are some activity ideas for learning the 50 states:

1. Play Games
Drill daily with games at Sheppards Software's USA Games. There are also some quiz games at Seterra. We start off with the Sheppard's Software because I like the way it breaks the quizzes down into several regions so it's a little more manageable. Seterra does break down into regions but fewer so we typically play Seterra once my kids have learned a great deal of states.

2. Dictation
Give dictation daily on the state names, capitals, and two letter postal abbreviation.  You can give a state name and have your student write it down. Then have them write down the state's capital and two letter abbreviation. You can change it up and give them the state capital the next time and have them supply the other two pieces of information, etc.  Giving dictation or having kids write the names and capitals is a great way to help with learning/reviewing capitalization (as I have found out).

3. State Shape Flashcards
Drill student with state shape flashcards (cards with only the state shape on it and student must identify the state. You can also have them give the capital and postal abbreviation).
  • I found some neat State Shape electronic Flashcards at Quizlet. These are neat because not only are they flashcards but there are a few games that you can play as well. (I love Quizlet!)
  • Printable State Shape Flashcards at Squishlogic - these are simple and old schooly feeling but neat. You cut them out so that they are two sided cards and on one side is a state shown in blue and the surrounding states are outlined. On the flip side is the name of the state name and capital.
4. Learn the Two Letter Abbreviations of Each State
5. Geographic Clue Cards
Make up a set of cards with geographic clues (such as which state is directly north of California, or which three states are bordered by the Pacific Ocean on their west coasts).  You can number each card and cut them out and have student randomly select a card and give the answer to the clue. Or, you can just leave the card set intact on a sheet of paper and have student use a random number generator to pick card numbers. I hope to have a set of geographic clue cards available here, but I am leaving it as a learning activity for my daughter to create them, in shaa Allah......

6. Region or State Mini books/Notebooks
A fairly common activity is to have students create a 50 states notebook with facts about each state, usually a state per page.  I've tried this in the past and we didn't get too far so I decided to try this time by having my daughter create a book of some sort of regions (since she is learning the states by region with the Sheppard Software). Some suggestions for this are to make mini books for each region and it would include each state in the region and facts about it and a shape picture of the state). Another idea is to make posters/brochures for each region where each poster or brochure features the states in the region and some facts about the region and each state.

You can google and find many free state notebooking pages/books.  

7. Learn the Capital Names
My daughter is using Sheppard Software to learn these and I quiz her on them daily.

8. Current Events
Find a current event for each state and summarize it and show how it could affect your or what you think about the events that unfolded.

9. Progress Map
As your student learns different states, have them color the mastered states in on a blank outline map. It can be very encouraging for them to see their progress.

10. Map Drill Worksheets
  • You can do the traditional map drills by giving  your student a blank USA map and having student fill in the names of the states. Or you can give your student a blank numbered outline map and have him or her write the states according to the numbers. I don't generally do these type of drills as it requires printing out a lot of maps (unless you perhaps use a plastic page protector and dry erase marker). A variation of this would be to use the blank numbered outline map, have student draw from number cards (1-50) or randomly generate a number and whatever number they draw, they find the number on the map and write the state's name (capital name and abbreviation can also be written).
  • Another type of drill is to give a state, capital name, or 2 letter abbreviation, and your student gives the other two missing pieces of information (e.g. You say or have written "California" on a worksheet, student must give/write the capital name and 2 letter abbreviation. ) You could make this into a worksheet or do it orally.

So these are the ways we are currently using to memorize the 50 state names, capitals, and postal abbreviations.

Do you have any special activities that you have done to learn the 50 states? 
If so, please share in the comments to give others ideas!

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  1. yay! Glad to see you've been a busy bee! MashaAllah. The site looks amazing barakallahu feek

    1. jazakAllahu kheyr! I'm trying to consolidate everything into one site but it sure is a beastly task, lol. Inshaa Allah, I'll get it done sooner rather than later....


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