“Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.”
Teachers and parents want to make learning meaningful and memorable for students. The quote above is a helpful reminder on HOW we can make those lessons more meaningful. Try putting aside the workbooks, the worksheets, the pencil-and-paper tests – and involve students in the lesson with a learning game.
One game that teaches and reviews the subject of United States geography is Great States.
This award-winning board game is designed for 2 to 6 players and aimed at kids ages 7 and up. When you open the game, you find everything you need to test your students’ geography knowledge. Students both in the classroom as well as homeschool geography learners will benefit.
The Great States game includes a game board, 400 game cards (100 Fact cards, 100 Find cards, and 100 Fun cards), a spinner, a timer and complete game instructions.
This game is awesome because it’s so customizable – the rules are intended to be adapted based on the ages of the players, the ability levels of the students, and the time you have allotted to play. For example, you can choose the number of cards a player needs to collect to win (i.e. 10 cards or 20 cards). You can also decide how long the timer will be set for (a full minute for younger students vs. 20-30 seconds for older students).
How to play:
The youngest player goes first. They spin the spinner and the person to the left sets the timer and then reads the card to the player (the answer is printed on the bottom of each card). If the player can correctly answer the question before the timer dings, they get to keep the card! The goal of the game is to collect the most cards.
There are four categories of cards, with each testing different skills:
1. Find Cards: Each card in this category illustrates what the players must find.
The identical illustration appears on the map. Players search the map to find the match, which gives them the correct answer.
For example – the matching picture of the cattle appears in the state of Texas.
2. Fact Cards: These cards ask questions about important state facts.
State Capitals – all state capitals are shown on the board with a star which marks their approximate location.
Largest Cities – some states show another city, marked with a bullet point. These are the largest cities in those states. When the map shows only the capital city in the state, then this is also the largest city in the state.
State Abbreviations (all state abbreviations are shown in parenthesis).
3. Figure Cards:
These are the hardest cards to win. Instead of finding pictures or words that match, players must study them and form conclusions based on what they see. They are developing good map reading skills while playing!
For example – Which state is closest to Nebraska?
- North Dakota
4. Fun Cards:
These cards are just for fun! Follow the directions on the card to answer the question.
For example, close your eyes and spell Mississippi backward.
Whether your students are just starting to learn their states and capitals or they are geography gurus, this game is a wonderful addition to any social studies curriculum, as well as homeschool geography lesson plans. This game provides important practice in this life skill of locating the 50 states, as well as identifying the capitals, important landmarks, and interesting facts.
What’s great about this game is how customizable it is – the rules are intended to be adapted based on the ages/ability levels of the students playing as well as the time you have allotted to play. “
Homeschool Geography Variations:
Don’t have the time to set up and play the full game? No problem! You can use these game cards without the board game – use them to test your kids’ skills in the car, at a restaurant while you’re waiting for your meal, as a quick review/time filler during the school day, etc.
Here’s what real-life students say about the game:
“This game was really fun! I almost forgot that I was doing schoolwork.” –Bobby, age 10
“I really liked playing Great States during Free Choice Friday. I love beating the timer and collecting the game cards. It makes me feel really smart.” –Gaby, age 11
“At first I found the game cards to be kind of tricky, especially the Figure Cards. But the more I played this game, the more I learned and I got faster and faster at finding the answers.” –Kyle, age 10
Interested in more fun and engaging resources to teach your students about the U.S. states and capitals? Check out these student-tested, teacher-approved products from Educents storefronts:
About the All-Star Blogger
Jessica Lawler is a wife, passionate teacher turned teaching resource creator, mom of a sweet baby boy, blogger (“Joy in the Journey”), reader, baker, and crafting enthusiast.