It can be a project to learn the states and capitals of the United States.
For years, my stubborn brain tried to convince me that Los Angeles was the California’s capital. Albany tripped me up repeatedly. (They don’t have big musical numbers about Albany, do they?)
When most of us were assigned to learn the states and capitals, it was pretty straightforward. You got a map, you studied it, you took the test, and you forgot it. Maybe you took that extra step of creating your own flashcards.
Today’s kids, though, have options to learn the states and capitals. Options that help them remember so that they don’t fumble the Albanys, Sacramentos, and Tallahassees like we did.
Flashcards to learn the states and capitals
Flashcards aren’t what they used to be. You can get them online, as hard copies, and as apps.
This free set from Quizlet lets kids flip the cards by clicking on the card itself. It also gives the pronunciation for each state and capital, which is a bonus! This set (also free) from Study Stack lets students choose whether a card goes into the Know or Don’t Know pile. (Plus they look like index cards if you like the retro vibe.)
You can also learn the states and capitals with physical flashcards. I didn’t find any that satisfied me, so I made my own. They’re differentiated, which is handy for last minute tweaks.
Or if you value simplicity try these.
The differentiated flashcard sets have a three pocket system that allows students to keep track of the facts they know, those they kind of know, and those they don’t know yet. Read more about this system here. It makes flashcard study more faster and better!
Games to learn the states and capitals
United States Bump is the best way to learn the states and capitals. It’s easy. Zero Prep. And kids LOVE it.
These United States Bump games work like nothing else. In fact, I stopped using the flashcards because the game worked so much better.
The following free sites will reinforce what your kids learn. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Sheppard Software has a wide array of games to suit the skills you want your kids to master. I particularly love the jigsaw games, like this one, to introduce the states.
- Abcya State Bingo (it’s a little noisy, so headphones or mute might help)
- Purpose Games (this one is much simpler, but kids can have fun trying to beat your time.)
- Quizlet has several games, plus it will let your kids practice the spelling of the states and capitals. This may be my favorite.
- Kahoot is incredible. You can set this up as a full-class game or have it as a center. Our kids go gaga for Kahoot days.
Display Eye-Catching United States Maps
This beauty below is actually designed to go on RVs. But how much cooler would it be on display on your window?
As your class learns each state or region, you can let students add the states to the blank United States map!
Or you could go with this basic and kid-friendly map.
Learn the states with mnemonic devices
Some people are brilliant at creating memory tricks. Selma Dewani is one of those people. I splurged and bought her US Geography: Memorize and Research the 50 US states and capitals download from Teachers pay Teachers and was thrilled with the results. She has a video that you can stream right from the site. The kids favorite part? Chef Mimal.
Time to test them and see all they’ve learned! Since you have a wide range of students, this differentiated set of tests will help all your kids succeed. With this set, you can test them on states, capitals, or abbreviations.
AND… you now have access to REMOTE GOOGLE tests that do all the correcting for you. And they’re differentiated as well. I now use these with my students in Google Classroom and they’ve cut HOURS off my correcting. (Want to learn how to use Google Classroom?)
Learn the states and capitals in unique ways
For students to learn the states and capitals and have those facts etched in their longterm memory, they have to be exposed to the facts often. Here are some additional ways you can incorporate them into your day.
Using reading bookmarks allows your lessons to go beyond the confines of social studies time. With these bookmarks available, your students will learn their state facts much quicker and will cart them along whenever they take a book outside of your classroom. I think of them as mobile lessons.
Cheat Sheet Bracelets
These bracelets are a lot of fun. Just print off a set, cut them into strips, and let the kids pick a bracelet to wear. (Simple scotch tape works great.) In our room, the students can pick one bracelet (state) to wear during a test. It’s like a freebie answer and they think they’re getting away with something. You can use them throughout the day in activities as well. (“All states that border the Atlantic, come to the center of the circle and greet someone!”; “If your capital has more than two syllables, clean up your materials and line up for P.E.” )
April Fools Day
Okay. This one won’t help them at all. But it’s super fun if you like to play April Fools jokes on your students. It includes a states and capitals word search and all the documents are free and downloadable. Put a pin in this one for next April. It’s SO much fun!
Pennants to learn the states and capitals
Pennants not only help your students learn the states and capitals, they make your study of geography a celebration! Imagine how gorgeous these will look on your classroom walls or in your hallway!
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We’d love to hear from you! In the comments below, let us know:
- What methods of teaching the states and capitals have you discovered?
- OR Which states or capitals did you have a tough time remembering?
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