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Thursday, April 2, 2009

State Capitols and Restate Capitols

Welcome to all linking to this post from Home School Carnival gardening edition.

When Emma was in 1st or 2nd grade she had a unit on States. She learned all the capitols, the year they became a state and a famous citizen of that state. Charlie followed along and learned much of the information himself. It was an excellent unit, and a great jumping off point for other studies. We learned many interesting facts we had not known before, like the fact that Adolf Hitler had at one point owned large portions of Colorado. This led to studies on the Holocaust. We learned about Rosa Parks and the Montgomery bus boycott. This led to further studies about civil rights. It also sparked an obsession in Charlie about boycotts.

Since that time we have seen Emma's memory of capitols dwindle down to 50% from knowing all of them. We decided to prepare a refresher for her and Charlie during Spring Break. Since Amy now has a Spring Break at her job we give the kids a few days off their studies as well. We did have them review the capitols every day for a week and now Emma is almost back to 100% again. Charlie is kind of boycotting the quizzing and answers Baton Rouge or Salt Lake City to all of them.

The Monday of Spring Break was the regular day for our home school cooperative. I teach a class on grammar and editing for the 7th grade-and-up crowd. I like to open the class in an unusual way, so I began by quizzing them on state capitols. One girl did not know the capitol of Illinois. That's fine if you live in Kansas. But when you live in Illinois, it's kind of an important fact! I went through 20~25 states and no one even got a quarter of 'em. They assured me they had all memorized or at least studied the capitols before. These are bright articulate kids. But just like Emma and Charlie, they need a refresher. Here is a demonstration.

This Monday, the tables were turned. I was assisting at the co-op in Charlie's class. They were reading a story about Martin Luther King and the bus boycott. I could not think of Rosa Parks' name. It was killing me! I asked Charlie, he didn't remember. I sauntered across the hall and asked Emma, she didn't know. I stayed up all night racking my brain and at about 6 a.m, it dawned on me. No, that's just a bad joke. I thought of it on the drive home. But the point had been made. Things get forgotten, and things worth remembering need to be taught over and over.
Another important aspect of state knowledge is being able to place them on a map. No doubt many of you have seen this useful resource. It is very addictive and I have become pretty good at it. I have placed all 50 states without an error 3 times now. It all depends on the order of the states you are given. Today we had a family contest and Emma won placing 47/50 with an average error of only 14 miles. Charlie is not able to read all of the states. He does a pretty good job of recognizing the states by shape.
Next Time: The Same Guys


  1. We are working on states this quarter with my 2nd child (4th grade). The 3 things I found invaluable when I did this last year with my oldest were: the child filling in a US map with the names of the states every day (learning postal codes too), playing mad dash! every day(a fun US geography game I picked up at the thrift store), and then once those are down pat using flash cards every day to match the states and capitals.

  2. We learn everything by song (it's amazing how quickly and how much they can retain) so my 6 year old (and 3 year old!) have learned the capitols using the anamaniacs song (it's on youtube). If we sing it every now and then hopefully they will remember them. We've learned the books of the bible and the Greek alphabet recently as well - with song!


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