Learning the 50 states of the United States and their capitals is not only a required task for many school children but also a great asset to have when they get older. There are easy ways to learn the list that are better than simply looking at a basic map. These strategies include using online tools, mnemonic tricks and old-fashioned study techniques.
Because most kids like to go online anyway, a good strategy is to provide them with the resources on the Internet where they can teach themselves. There are many sites that have interactive learning games, worksheets that can be printed out and technologically advanced maps to study. These sites include 50states.com, Quia.com, YourChildLearns.com, SheppardSoftware.com and NationalGeographic.com.
Teach by region. It is easier to remember a large list of items when you break it down into categories, and most kids like to see where they live on a map in comparison to the rest of the country. The U.S. can be broken down into its general regions and then the capitals can be learned from there.
Make it visual. Like learning anything, a visual aid makes things easier to remember. Try using postcards from each capital, having kids draw pictures for their own image of the state, using puzzles and finding iconic pictures from the history of each state's capital.
Use chunking. This is the simple technique of putting something into chunks rather than trying to learn it as a whole. You might want to try having kids learn the states according to the first letter, assigning a state and capital to the numbers 1 through 10 or breaking up the learning to a state per day.
When you have finished trying all the tricks and cool maps to get kids to learn the states, one of the best motivators is to schedule frequent tests. Make sure to give kids basic study techniques that they can do anywhere. These include using flashcards with the state name on one side and the capital on the other. When a child successfully learns each one, put it aside and focus on the forgotten ones. Another easy tool is taking a list of all the states and writing in the capitals. A final technique is using a blank map and writing in all the names.
For additional tips and tricks, you might want to check out the teacher forums on ProTeacher.net, a major resource for professional teachers. There are also a wealth of interactive books on the subject available at book sellers online and locally.
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