Monday, June 18, 2012

Fifty State Studies

Western States
After diligently working all year in our Social Studies book, I like to end the school year with our State Study Unit.  During this time, students learn the location of all 50 states, their abbreviation and capital (including proper spelling).  This is also when I find many of my past students (we are a PreK-8 school) walking extremely slowly by my classroom.  Not because they are trying to get out of whatever is going on in their own classroom but because they hear a familiar tune.  Many will even stop outside my door to sing the song with my class......what song?  The Animaniacs Capital Song!!!!  I kick the unit off every year by giving my students a copy of the lyrics to this extremely catchy song to help aid my kids in memorizing the capitals.  If you have not heard this one yet, you need to listen to it!!!!  My kids absolutely LOVE this song and many times during their tests on the capitals I can hear them humming the tune.  It works!

I break the total unit into five weeks, with the aid of maps from  This website has divided the country into four regions: Northeastern, Midwest, Southern and Western.  I print out a copy of each map for my students and together we properly label the map for them to use as a study guide.  Each week we work on a new region.  Here is my breakdown:
Week 1:  Northeastern States
Week 2: Quiz on NE States and begin Southern States
Week 3: Quiz on the Southern States and begin the Midwest States
Week 4: Quiz on the Midwest States and begin the Western States
Week 5: Quiz on the Western States and final tests on the capitals, abbreviations and location of all 50 states
Final state location test
I created weekly quizzes for the students to complete for each region.  One quiz is for the abbreviations, another for capitals and yet another for location.  While it seems like a lot, my students have actually said they like it because they usually are successful on one or another (if not all three!)  During this time, I also print out some review sheets from Edhelper to create a packet that the students need to have completed by the end of the unit. also has great packets and sheets.  
NE Quiz
I also assign the State Project which is broken into two parts.  One part is a report that the students complete using Google Presentation, where they research an assigned state.  In addition to the report, students create a state float (think of a parade) which represents symbols and other things that state is known for.  These are SO MUCH fun to see and listen to the students present.  They get really creative.  
See an example report here:  Georgia

This is one unit the students really enjoy!  We play State Capital Bingo, a flashcard game and so much more.  Even my students who typically struggle in Social Studies, typically find success with this unit and enjoy all the hands on activities and games we play.

In addition, I have my students use my QR Code Task Cards to practice identifying the states based on outlines and the state capitals.  See them here in my TpT store.

What do you do for your State Study Unit?


  1. I remember this was my most favorite thing about my elementary days. I did my project on the state of Oklahoma. We actually did a whole shoe box treasure chest idea, but I LOVE the idea of a float. That one is definitely being recorded in case I am ever in the upper grades or for when I teach my own littles someday :) Thanks for sharing and bringing back some good memories :)

    My (Not So) Elementary Life

    1. Hi Heidi - thanks for stopping by. I actually did my state project on OKLAHOMA too!!! haha

  2. How fun! I think your teaching sequence is logical and will be effective. Students love to be creative so this will be the talk of the town I'm sure! Thanks for sharing :)

    1. Thank you Gretchen! The unit tends to be a favorite when it's all over and done with. In the beginning I think it sounds a bit overwhelming but they do it.

  3. For another fun way to memorize the states and capitals check out the fun, picture-code flash cards at...


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