How to create a state study for little guys

To start I first got them familiar with the concept of different sizes of locations, to do that we read the book Me on the Map (hyperlink goes to the activities we did), which I love.

Then we started with our home state of Texas.  I firmly believe that kids are incredibly self-involved and they will remember more if you stick as much as possible to what they know.  I thought about what I think would be important for a little kid to know about Texas.  I decided I wanted them to know about our state flower, some of the local animals, and the state symbols.  If I had been able to find an age appropriate book about the Alamo I would have included that, but I couldn’t find it.

As we progressed on to different states I look at each state based on how I can get a hook in for my kids.  So, next we studied Wisconsin, because their Dad grew up there.  After that we studied California, where I grew up.  And slowly we moved to different states for different reasons (other family members, we traveled there).

Now, we’re getting to the point where we have no real tie-ins to the state we’re studying.  At this point I’m letting them look at the United States map and choose a state.  Currently we’re studying Florida.

Now, here’s a step by step of places I go, and what I want them to know about each state.

1.  I go to the state’s website and look up their state symbols and see if they have any useful printables about their state.  Here is a complete list of official state websites for kids.  While I’m there I look for interesting history bits or facts that my kids might enjoy.

2.  I check my evernote page for blog posts I’ve read about that state.  Some blogs I read that regularly have geography post about the 50 states: Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn; Just Playing Around; Superheroes and Princesses; Layers of Learning; and Great American Postcard Swap.  Often those blogs will have studied it before I have and it might give me some ideas to play around with.

3.  I look up ideas at my local library.  Anything that is related to the state.  For instance looking up Washington does not get me much about the state of Washington at my local library.  But, if I look up Mount Saint Helens I get some great books about the eruption and the volcano.   A lot of times my further activities come from those books.

74.  Then I start making any printables I want to use for that state that I haven’t found so far.  I always make a printable about the state’s symbols and one about one of the local animals.

5.  After that I see where their interests lead us.  So, when we studied California, the kids had a lot of fun with the idea of finding gold, so we did a treasure hunt with “gold.”

For those who are curious, here’s the states I’ve completed so far:

Missouri (will go back to, this is mostly from our traveling there)
New Mexico
North Carolina

Their memory of each state isn’t perfect, but they’re enjoying what we’ve learned and are having fun with it.

12 thoughts on “How to create a state study for little guys

  1. Great post. We have a very similar approach.

    I was sad that I couldn't find an age appropriate book about the alamo too. I tried to introduce it a little.

    We started with our home state but I was so anxious to continue that we rushed through it. I'm thinking of revisiting it soon.

    I am amazed at what my kids remember from our state studies.

    Oh, thanks for the link too. Very sweet of you!

  2. Thanks, this is really helpful! I'm thinking of starting geography studies, probably in January, and so any guidelines are helpful. I need to decide whether to start with states or countries; both have their benefits. Family is spread both across the US and overseas…

  3. Great post. I keep things as simple and easy as I can for Selena. A quick little visit to the State, with a small amount of information. Except Washington where we live and can get live it.

  4. Hey, I wasn't sure if you had found this yet but this is a really cool Florida coloring book about animals found in Florida. I am coloring it in for my daughter and going to laminate it for her to have a Florida book (I am also going to print one out for her to color when she is a little bit older…3 or so).

    Here is the link:

    Thanks for all of the links…I am going to check them all out right now!

  5. This is a great post. I am going to have to start introducing geography to Cole more. I have to admit that I have been very bad and we really don't do anything. We talk a lot about cultures and customs and languages, but not the actual geography.

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