Yesterday, I received an email from a parent asking for advice on teaching geography to kids. She wrote, “I have three kids, and we are working on geography while they are home. I wanted to see if you had any suggestions on how to teach them about the United States map. More particularly, how to learn states and capitals.”
How to Learn States and Capitals
If you are looking for easy ways to memorize the 50 States and Capitals, today’s post is for you.
While I have another giant list with over 300 free educational websites for kids, this list is all about geography.
Did you have to memorize all 50 states when you were in elementary school?
I can remember my brother practicing a song about the states, but little did I know that he was actually memorizing states & capitals while he was singing. I, on the other hand, didn’t have the same teacher in 5th grade, so I didn’t have to learn them.
Fast forward many years- it wasn’t until much later that I finally made myself learn the geography of the United States, and of the world.
With our own four children, I was determined that they would learn the US states, the location & the capitals of each state before they reached middle school.
How do you teach the 50 states and capitals?
Time hasn’t changed too much, as it is still the teacher that seems to decide on how well the students will learn geography. Our oldest son was taught the states in elementary school.
His teacher gave him a quiz every week. She passed out a blank map, and he had to write the 50 states.
The following month, she gave out a blank map, and the students had to fill in the capitals. If they missed even one, they had to try the following week again.
When they got them all correct, they could stop taking the weekly test. If not, they kept trying, week after week, until they had memorized the states and capitals.
By the time that our other children were in that grade, that teacher had retired and our younger children were never taught the location of the states, let alone the capitals of each state.
It’s up to me to teach them and I plan to do it in the most fun, but effective way possible.
What is the fastest way to learn the states and capitals?
Since every child and person learns differently, it’s hard to say that one way works over another.
Once you find out HOW you learn, you can easily find the best way to learn the states and capitals. It might be through a song, repetition, memorization, or tricks like knowing that the state of Montana looks like a man’s face who happens to be smelling the potatoes in the state of Idaho…
How to Memorize the 50 States and Capitals?
I have our kids spend about ten minutes a day on each new skill, including learning the map.
For our younger kids, who have not learned their states or capitals yet, ten minutes a day is all that it takes to learn their 50 states & capitals fast. It’s surprising how quickly they catch on.
List of Educational Websites that Teach the US States and Capitals:
- ABCya Step Right Up Kids match states with their capital cities (and vice versa) by playing an all-time favorite carnival game. Find ten matches and take home a prize!
- Arcademics: Capital Penguin geography game. The student (a penguin) must jump to the matching state, in the form of an iceberg, that floats toward the penguin.
- Ben’s Guide: Pull the states into a blank map of the United States (like an interactive puzzle helping students to learn the location on the map)
- Easy Note Cards: Printable flashcards (Front=States. Back=Capitals)
- Enchanted Learning: Printable maps to label & more.
- Fun Brain: Online States & Capitals game with five levels.
- Geography-Map-Games: Games for countries, states, and cities.
- I like 2 learn: Learn the US Capitals with the Map Quiz Game.
- Maps of World: This site has an online map of the United States, as well as a table that includes the states, capitals & nicknames.
- Quia: Matching Game, word searches & flashcards.
- Sheppard Software: So many free online games to teach the location of the states, as well as the capitals & landscapes.
- Your Child Learns: Interactive map of the United States of America (& other countries), along with quizzes.
- Vector Kids: Fun interactive & educational games for kids
- Worksheet Works: Create printable worksheets for learning states and capitals.
- If your child already knows the names of the states and capitals but gets confused about which capital goes with which state, this drawing-trick is a great idea.
Songs and YouTube Videos that Teach the US States and Capitals
This first one (below) is my favorite because I am amazed by the talented artist! The song is so catchy, too! It’s a great one to help the kids become interested in geography.
This next one is a classic song that was popular when I was in elementary school. It’s easy to learn & the kids like to see how fast they can sing it!
The video below is from the Classical Conversations curriculum. It is a great song for teaching the states & capitals because it teaches them by location.
They start with Maine and go in order of location. It works well to let your kids follow along on their own map.