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Fifty States

Compiled By: Editor

A collection of ideas for teaching about the 50 United States and capitals

States and Capitals......
Posted by: States and Capitals......

In reply to just realizing that few of your students know their states and capitals, it's no surprise. A few years ago, children played with toys that taught these, but now the "playstations" etc. leave no room for that extra "touch" of education. So keep in mind that in 4th grade they only learn about the state they live in (according to you State Standards). Therefore what I do, is teach the states first at the beginning of the year. This might be something you can consider doing next year...then do the capitals in January. Make the States a required test as according to CA standard it is, and they can not understand US History without knowing where the states are located.
I do this game with the class.
1. Pull down the your large US Map
2. Make two teams
3. Have one student from each team go to the map...have them put their hands behind their back
4. Call out the name of a state and the first one to touch it wins.
5. Remind them hands must stay behind their back, as they will have a tendency to run their fingers around the map and mix up the other student.
6 If they are really stuck give them a hint by saying what color the state is...
7. If any team mate talks that team loses that point.
This game really gets the students to want to start studying so they will do better than their opponents.
Good luck and hope it works for I have been teaching this for eight years and find it's a wonderful incentive.

Also I use the site for generating tons of maps and work sheets so you might take a look at that site to see if there are other resources you might want as it's a site with umlimited amount of generated worksheets.
Julia ; )

States and Capitals
Posted by: RM

To teach states and capitals, I break it down into the 5 regions. Each week we have a region study. They do different activities that research the climate, landforms, population, culutural groups, and interesting places from that region. They are also responsible for learning the states and capitals from that region. After the first region, they become pretty independent on the activities and work on it while I work with guided reading groups, guided writing groups, or focus groups.
Each week we have a quiz on the states and capitals from that region, and then I introduce the new region.

We do that for 5 weeks, then we look at how the regions work together and talk about the interdependence of the states/regions. We do alot of Venn Diagrams, Compare and Contrast charts, etc. of the regions.

At the end of that week, they have a states and capitals final test. If they get all 50 states and capitals labeled correctly they get an extra recess. We only have recess for about 7-10 minutes a day, so this is a BIG deal for them.

Hope this helps!

Posted by: Rebecca

I posted earlier and I am already committed to this project with another group but here are some ideas. My students make a booklet. They have research questions (age appropriate ofcourse) to answer. I have a book that I make copies for the students for each state. As a postcard arrives, we focus on that state. I have a huge fabric map of the US and as a postcard arrives we tag it on the map and place the postcard to the side. As far as the research they have to find the state flag, bird, population, weather, capital, close to ocean,just to name a few. I have several websites for this project as well. Then at the end of the year, they have a booklet about all fifty states. You could have students practice on writing skills by taking turns writing postcards to send to the other participants. If I think of anything else that I have left out, I'll return to the board to let you know. Good luck and Have FUN!!

Posted by: jabnphillips

Are these the lyrics you were looking for?

Fifty Nifty United States
By Ray Charles

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies;
Fifty nifty stars in the flag that billows so beautifully in the breeze.
Each individual state contributes a quality that is great.
Each individual state deserves a bow,
let’s salute them now.

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Shout 'em, tout 'em. Tell all about 'em,
One by one till we've given a day to every state in the USA ,
in the USA., in the USA .

Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas,
California, Colorado, Connecticut;
Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii,
Idaho, Illinois, Indiana;
Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana,
Maine, Maryland,
Massachusetts, Michigan;
Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana,
Nebraska, Nevada;
New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York,
North Carolina, North Dakota, O-hi-o;
Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania,
Rhode Island, South Carolina,
South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas;
Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington,
West Virginia, Wisconsin, Wy-o ming.

North, south, east, west, oooh…
In our cool, considerate, objective, un-prejudiced opinion,
(name of home state) is the best--of the

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
Fifty nifty stars in the flag that billows so beautifully in the breeze.
Each individual state contributes a quality that is great.
Each individual state deserves a bow, let’s salute them now.

Fifty nifty United States from thirteen original colonies,
add up to U-S-A!

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Teaching U.S. States and Capitals
Posted by: Stacy

I taught the U.S. states and capitals in centers. What I did was divide the country into 4 basic regions (Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, and Westcoast). I then took the map and made an overhead of it. I then blew up each region on my overhead and traced poster sized copies of each region. With these copies I made puzzles to help the kids learn. These were the basis of my centers. The centers went like this:

Center 1: Kids were given a blank copy of the region map and were asked to fill in the state name and its capital.

Center 2: Kids were given a poster size copy of the region map and cards with the states name and capital (for a challenge I also had cards with the state names and capitals seperated. Their job was to put the names on the correct spot on the map.

Center 3: Kids were given the states of the region puzzle (this was a region poster board cut up) and were asked to put them in the correct places.

Center 4: Kids were given a cloze activity worksheet of the states and capitals and resource books. They were then asked to find out which states belonged to which capitals.....

I was amazed at how well my kids learned their states and capitals because of this tactile method. I gave this unit to another teacher and she used it this year and was amazed by her students progress as well. I hope this helps....Stacy

states and capitals
Posted by: Randi

I love using centers in my classroom of 4th grade as well. I always include the USA states and capitals in my centers.

I made concentration cards by writing the names of every capital and state on index cards. The cards can be broken up into the different regions. Many different groups can be playing at the same time. I just let them play for about 10 minutes at each station.

The cards can also be used in a "Go Fish" Game or as flash cards. Many uses for them!

I also made a large map of the United States on felt backed table cloth. I drew the map using an opeg projector. The kids use the map and a coin. They toss the coin on a state, and have to name both the state and capital. I give them a list of the states so that they can intial the states that they correctly name. The one with the most wins!

50 States Valentine Exchange
Posted by: Krista

I am organizing a 50 states Valentine Exchange. It
works similar to a postcard exchange, except we exchange
valentines! You would be responsible for having your class
make and send a valentine to each participating state. In
return your class would receive a valentine from each
state. Last year was so successful! Some people did this
with just their class, some did their whole grade level,
and some involved their entire school! Grade levels
varied from kindergarten to 6th grade. We colored in a
state on our map each time we received a card. Last year
we had 46 out of 50 states participating!! The feedback
from last year was overwhelming! Many said it was their
favorite exchange ever and that their kids were SO excited
about receiving the cards in the mail! It was one of the
highlights of our school year!

We still need the following states: Alaska, Delaware, Hawaii, Kentucky, Nebraska, New Hampshire, New Mexico, North Dakota, Utah, and Vermont. If you are from one of these states, please join our exchange! Email me off list with your school mailing address:

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50 states/capitals
Posted by: Julie Schlesener

I was having trouble getting kids to memorize states/capitals last year, so I incorporated their bodies and their voices and had GREAT success. We created a song in which we said the name of the state and its capital accopmanied with hand motions. I let the kids decide on the motions that would help them remember the capital. Example, "Alaska, Juneau" (kids pretend to shiver)
"Hawaii, Honolulu" (kids hula dance)
etc. We created the song in five different sessions; as we started a new region, after learning a few basics about the states in that region, we added to our states/capitals song. We went in order within the region, and on final map quiz day, I saw lots of students singing their song as they filled out the map.

states and capitals
Posted by: Cheryl

My kids loved learning states and capitals last year. I started with a poster set I found at a school supply store - one poster for each student. They had to label the states and capitals and we would discuss different things about them - current events, history,etc. Then I had a card game to match the states and capitals and we did it as a whole class with the kids in teams. Rule was you could only name one until every person in your group had a chance. THey started playing it in their free time. I might give a capital and they had to come up with the state or I would give the state and they come up with the capital. Easy stuff, but they loved it!

learning the states
Posted by: Hilary

Last year I taught my students the states by giving them a blank map everyday for about 3 weeks. They had 5 minutes to fill in as many states as they could and by the end of the 3 weeks, I had about 80% getting all of the states right! They loved it and I posted all the papers that had all 50 states correctly written on the board. I had parents tell me how excited the kids were to study states.

Scrambled States
Posted by: Lodi, CA 3rd

Get yourself a copy of the book Scrambled States of America. It's in paperback- green cover by Scholastic. Have 20 states- since you have 20 people- cut out (enlarge them if your map is desktop size). REad the story aloud and then have them act out parts of the story. Follow with a discussion of how these events would effect the geography of the continent if it were possible, personification of states, attributes of each state that make this impossible. I'm sure once you read this little book ideas will explode in your mind.

50 states lessons
Posted by: Linda

I am currently putting together a state in a can report project for my class. I'm using coffee cans and they must include the basic information about flower, tree, flag, etc. However, in the past I have compiled a list of 20 questions that they can look up either on the internet or in reference books - origin of name and nickname, state government officials, capital, population, area, products exported, foods famous from the state, famous people from the state, etc. You can pick and choose whatever you wish. A good website for them to use is I have also had them write to the state of their choice and ask for information and pictures and then made a large map of the US (used overhead to trace on large paper) and then cut the individual states out and each student had to make a picture mural of their state and then we placed them back together to make the entire country and posted it in the multi-purpose room for the school to enjoy. There are also commerically prepared posters for them to fill out. If I can help any more, please e-mail or post a reply.

Posted by: Linda

My second graders really eat up the states. There is a book called Kate on the Coast that we start out unit out with.. There are also several other books about regions by same author. Check out the library..they should have a copy.
Also in discount stores there are state flashcards. A Book Store flip cards of the Nifty 50 States.
Our favorite is a game called Five State Rummy. I have enough decks that we can play in groups of 4. These cards are really a big hit. If you are working in center groups this game would be perfect.

50 States Project
Posted by: Kimberly

I had each child (2nd Grade) choose a different state. I gave them specifics on what was required and they did a book report for the class. They had to tell the capital, state song, bird, tree, and flower. They had to make a visual aid...a poster, pamphlet, etc. They had to tell us why we should visit that state as well. They had to turn in a HAND WRITTEN report. I didn't want the parent to type out the report for the child and have them read it. We had a great time and the students got to display their work in the library for all to see. The ones who didn't do it, I gave an encyclopedia to and they wrote it at recess.

We also put a US puzzle together after we read the book The Scrambled States of America.

Good luck!

"states & capitals"
Posted by: Tabitha

I used states and capitals BINGO and blank USA maps to help mine remember. They love playing BINGO. The first time we played I pulled down my large US map and gave them 20 seconds to answer. After a while we didn't need to use the map and they remembered the states and the capitals. The blank maps they filled in both the states and the capitals. I broke the US into the different regions and it helped them to remember each state and its capital. Mine really loved playing BINGO!

"parade of States"
Posted by: Leslie

Parade of Staces is a wonderful project that I have my classes participate in every year. The students get excited about getting to make an art project that will be judged and they learn tons about their states. I tell them to use a shoebox as their float. I also make the requirement that the float must have wheels. The wheels don't have to move but must be there. I let them get creative, but I give them suggestions. I suggest they use state colors to decorate the float, display the state bird and flower of their state, and don't just run pictures off from the internet. I then grade them on creativity, neatness, how much they've learned, and several other points

Posted by: rebecca

try calling the welcome centers of the states you are studying. I did this late in the fall and each state sent me a map and a booklet of itneresting facts about the state. Most of the states have an 800 number and they were more than happy to send me free literature

Wakko America's 50 US States and Capitals
Posted by: Mel

Here's the song. You can copy and paste it into a word document to print better. The only way I know how to describe the tune is that it goes to the tune of the ice cream man song. If you don't know that tune, ask around. Someone will probably know it, as I can't sing it for you over the Internet. This song is great and you'll be amazed at how quickly your students learn the state capitals.

Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Indianapolis, Indiana, and Columbus is the capital of Ohio; there's Montgomery, Alabama, south of Helena, Montana; then there's Denver, Colorado, under Boise, Idaho

Texas has Austin, then we go north, to Massachusetts, Boston, and Albany, New York; Tallahassee, Florida, and Washington, D.C., Santa Fe, New Mexico, and Nashville, Tennessee.

Elvis used to hang out there a lot, ya know

Trenton's in New Jersey north of Jefferson, Missouri, you got Richmond in Virginia, South Dakota has Pierre; Harrisburg's in Pennsylvania and Augusta's up in Maine, and here is Providence, Rhode Island, next to Dover, Delaware

Concord, New Hampshire, just a quick jaunt, to Montpelier, which is up in Vermont; Hartford's in Connecticut, so pretty in the fall, and Kansas has Topeka, Minnesota has St. Paul

Juneau's in Alaska and there's Lincoln in Nebraska, and it's Raleigh out in North Carolina, and then there's Madison, Wisconsin, and Olympia in Washington, Phoenix, Arizona, and Lansing, Michigan

Here's Honolulu, Hawaii's a joy, Jackson, Mississippi, and Springfield, Illinois; South Carolina with Columbia down the way, and Annapolis in Maryland on Chesapeake Bay

They have wonderful clam chowder

Cheyenne is in Wyomin' and perhaps you make your home in, Salt Lake City out in Utah, where the Buffalo roam; Atlanta's down in Georgia, and there's Bismarck, North Dakota, and you can live in Frankfort in your old Kentucky home

Salem in Oregon, from there we join, Little Rock in Arkansas, Iowa's got Des Moines; Sacramento, California, Oklahoma, and its city, Charleston, West Virginia, and Nevada, Carson City

That's all the capitals there are!

States and Capitals
Posted by: Donna

I use many of the ideas already presented, but I have also found the book "Yo! Sacramento" to work very well. It uses mneumonic devise, riddle and illustrations to help students remember the states and capitals. They love to guess what the illustration will look like and begin to come up with some of their own. Scholastic book order is where I find it and there is a companion one called "Yo! Millard Filmore" for presidents. Good Luck!

Regions of the United States
Posted by: Reda

When teaching the five regions I make a step book for each region. I label the book-Geography (political, physical), climate, resources, the people,economy, the changing region (changing Northeast), and celebrations(try dress-up and food tasting or parties). I try to add as much hands on as I can, and I am still looking for good ideas. This type of organization for each region helps students put together the big picture of the USA and helps the students understand how the states and regions are interdependent.

Postcard Exchange
Posted by: MsPropel

Last year was the first year I did a postcard exchange. It was great and my kids loved it! For most exchanges, you will send out 49 postcards. One to a classroom in each state. I sent mine out all at the same time last year. It was easier for me that way. After receiving a few postcards, we began to make a list of some of things we'd like to put on our postcards. Once we narrowed it down, we put it in letter form together. I typed up the letter we made and printed it onto labels. I also typed the addresses onto lables.

We got some postcards that the kids had written themselves, some were more informative than others.

Ours had A LOT (probably too much) of information. I had to make the font super small. Most people tell a little about their state or the town they live in, like the state bird, tree, flower, the city they are near, or any other information they'd like to put. Here is what our postcards said:

Dear Friends,
We live in Pennsylvania. Our state capital is Harrisburg. Our state bird is the Ruffed Grouse. Other animals that live in our state are skunks, snakes, groundhogs, turtles, deer, squirrels, frogs, chipmunks, freshwater fish, and lots of different birds.
We live in the city of Pittsburgh, home of the Superbowl Champion STEELERS! We also cheer for Penguin Hockey, Pirate Baseball, and the University of Pittsburgh Panthers. In Pittsburgh there is a place called The Point. This is where the Allegheny, the Ohio, and the Monongahela Rivers meet. We live near an amusement park called Kennywood and a waterpark called Sandcastle. We have our school picnics there.
We go to a Pre-K to 8th grade school. Our classroom has 20 students. Our principal is going to eat a fried worm omelet if every student in our school reads 4,500 minutes by March.
We love getting postcards from all over the country. Each time we get one, we sing a song called “Fifty, Nifty, United States”. We hope to get your postcard soon!

I told you it was long! :o Hope this helped!!

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Posted by: Jana

It's a little late in the year, but what about considering a 'Flat Stanley' writing unit, or a postcard exchange unit. If you haven't heard of 'FS', it's based on the book. You send off 'flat stanleys' to schools or addresses around the US. They stay for a visit and return with a journal explaining the events of the stay-- the neat part is, these host states can include information, brochures, pictures, etc. applicable to their area. When letters return we plot the destinations on a large US map on our bulletin board. We also discuss direction and compare the climate to our own.

This is a great ongoing project, you can send the Stanleys off on as many trips as you'd like. It's a very meaninful way to focus on the states-- you could do a world wide project as well.

At the beginning of the year my 1st graders didn't even have the concept that we lived in a city within a state within a larger group of states called the US. Now they can discuss directions as well as remembering places that our Stanleys have visited, things they did, etc. It's very exciting! You can also do this same sort of thing with postcards-- try to get a postcard from every state and plot the results as you go.