Playful US Geography for First Grade

I added a few more resources in another post on US Geography. Be sure to check it out.

I am joining up with Susan from Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and about 30 of her friends for the 2012 Virtual Curriculum Fair. I loved this idea when I first read about it on Susan’s blog — an honest look at curriculum and what works and doesn’t in your homeschool. There will be a new topic each Monday in January. Today is Exploring Our World: Social Studies and more Science. Read on to see how we do US Geography here and then enjoy the links at the bottom from around the fair.

Oh, I had high hopes for history and science this year. I bought open and go, already-planned-out curriculum for both subjects, and it was going to make my life so easy. And I guess it did. It also made us so bored. The activities were the same week after week or just not interesting at all. We trudged through for about 10 weeks and then just let it go altogether.

One of the components of our history study was US geography. Each week we were to read about a new state and then make a notebooking page for that state using the pre-planned notebooking sheet. *yawn* Yet despite the monotony of the assignment, somewhere in there Olivia developed an interest in the states and US geography. Fortunately I have some other resources that we have been using  to continue our studies with a little more flair.

iPad Apps
Stack the Statesicon— This iPad app is a current favorite in our home. You answer various questions about the states, their locations, landmarks and capitals. Each correct answer earns you a state to stack (all the states have cute eyeballs and are proportionally sized which is cool). Be careful stacking — it can be really tricky. Once you have stacked past the finish line, you pass the level and earn another state to put on your state map. The kids really love this game. The bad news is the app does not read to you, so younger students have to rely on a parent for help. In addition I would say that Olivia can’t answer about half of the questions (the ones on cities and landmarks) on her own, so needs help with those as well. The good news is she is learning those answers, she is learning to use a map to help answer other questions, and she is learning to read better so she doesn’t need so much help to play the app. There are some other games in the app. The only one we have unlocked so far is a game where you choose the correct state based on its shape. She’s getting really good with that one.

Wood Puzzle USAicon– It is exactly what it sounds like — a wooden puzzle of the US states. It has three different modes. The first has outlines of the states on the game board. As you drag the state to its correct location the app tells you the name of the state and its capital and there are no pieces to lose! There are also more advanced levels which quiz your knowledge. This one is not as popular as Stack the States, but it gets chosen for play about once a week.

Games
Scrambled States – The kids love this game. Olivia asks to play it at least once a week and recently John played with us for the very first time. You don’t have to have tons of knowledge about the states to play, but it does increase your familiarity with them. We play the version for young players, but the game will grow with the kids and become more fun and competitive as they get older. This is going to be a hit for a long time.


Books
The Scrambled States of America (Books for Young Readers) and The Scrambled States of America Talent ShowThese are favorite book around here. Kansas and Nebraska were two of the first states learned, not to mention Nevada and Mississippi (because they are in love in the books). Both big hits!

United Tweets of America: 50 State Birds Their Stories, Their Glories – We’ve read this one a couple of times but not in a while. Since we are gearing up our bird study, I am going to bring it back out again. It was well-received.

Smart About the Fifty States (Smart About History) This was the original book from our curriculum. I think it would be better received as a flip-through-and-read-about-what-looks-interesting or as a reference kind of book.

The United States Cookbook: Fabulous Foods and Fascinating Facts From All 50 States – We used this a number of times in the beginning of our geography study. We need to pull it out and use it again. I think the approach to take with it would be to look through it for something that looks yummy, make it, and then discuss the state it represents.

The plan for now is to continue with our hodge-podge study as we finish up our US History for this year. I am considering a fun project like having Olivia make a book of favorite states — something small. My main goal is to familiarize her with US geography and keep her from looking like an idiot if she is ever stopped by Jay Leno. So far she is doing pretty well for her age.

Check out the other entries in the Virtual Curriculum Fair this week:
Science and Worldview by Beth @ Ozark Ramblings
Nature Study as Science by Christine @ Crunchy Country Catholic
Virtual Curriculum Fair Week 3- Social Studies and more Science by Leah Courtney @ The Courtney Six Homeschool Family
Curriculum Fair–Exploring Our World by Angie @ Petra School
Paths of Exploration by Jen @ Forever, For Always
Learning Geography at Our House by Jessica @ Modest Mama
Mapping Out Our Social Studies by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
The Fascinating World Around Us by Cindy Horton @ Fenced in Family
More Heart of Dakota Praises by Nicole @ Schooling in the Sun
Our History by Melissa @ Grace Christian Homeschool
Heart of Dakota-The Fine Details-Part 3 History by Lynn @ Ladybug Chronicles
Exploring Our World Through History & Science by Brenda Emmett @ Garden of Learning
Two History Must-haves by Letha @ justpitchingmytent
Learning About The World Around Us by Laura O from AK
Social Studies and Science – What do we do? by Joelle @ Homechooling for His Glory

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  • Susan says:

    I hear you on the monotony that can come when something is all planned out with pre-designed pages to fill out…much as it would make my whole life a lot easier, I’ve never been able to get that method to work for us, either. ;0)

    This is a great list of resources, thank you for sharing it with the Virtual Curriculum Fair.

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