Learning the States of the USA

  • Erika 

One of the things I love most about homeschooling is the freedom to be creative in how I teach things. We love music! We love games! We love activities.

I few weeks ago I gave each of my kids a $20 budget, told them to pick a simple dinner meal menu, find what they needed to make it, and “shop” virtual on Ralphs.com and Walmart.com. They were amazed at how hard it was to stay under the budget, how much of a range there was between pricing between some store brand and name brand items, and that the totals from two different stores could be so different. “Isn’t a grocery store just a grocery store?!” But, that is a story for another day.

This week I wanted to get an idea of where everyone stood, under pressure, with recalling all 50 of the United States. We have recently been learning about the 13 colonies, but since we live out West, those are as exotic to them as foreign countries.

We have a board game that we all enjoy playing – The Scrambled States of America. It is a speed game though, and my middle one is just getting proficient enough with reading to play by the actual rules. We alter the rules to make it work, but my super competitive kids aren’t at their happiest unless someone is a “true” winner.

I had the great idea to set a timer and see how many states we could name in 2 minutes. I figured that since I knew my elementary aged kids were still learning all of the states I would make it a little easier and created a paper with the first letter of each state, so the could see there are 4 states that begin with an ‘A’, 3 with a ‘C’, etc. I knew my husband and I would nail it!

I gathered everyone begrudgingly in the office. They couldn’t believe I would do something so lame! I had everyone grab a pencil, set a timer for 2 minutes, handed them each a paper, and we were off. The timer went off after what felt like 20 seconds. We couldn’t believe how fast that 2 minutes had gone. So we added another minute, then another, then another. At that point I was struggling to remember the last few states, and knew that if any one got another it would be luck and not recall – so we called it at 5 minutes and counted up all the totals.

I think we only had one state that didn’t exist. My 8 year old had Mexico down, but she also had New Mexico. So confusing. Each child did progressively better than the one just younger than them. My oldest even remembered over half! I got a whopping 46, but somehow missed 2 states that I’ve been too repeatedly and are geographically nearby. I did do better than my husband though, so mission accomplished in my book.

It turns out it wasn’t as lame as they thought it would be and they ended up having a ton of fun (it’s almost like mom knows them just a bit…) They even asked if we could try again every day until we knew them all! We opted to work on learning them more and trying again each week to see if we did better than the week before.

How To Play

  • Download the pdf file of the worksheet and answers.
  • Print off enough copies of the worksheet for each person who wants to participate, but keep the answers hidden!
  • Set a timer for 5 minutes and write away.


Do you have a favorite way to learn about the states? Tell us about it in the comments!

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