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Puzzle Maps & Geography Game

I try not to let the 'comparison bug' bite me, but every once and a while it does.  I am human!  It's just that lately I've noticed pins on Pinterest for "How to Get Your Child to Learn All 50 States" or something of that sort-- well, here's my failing; Big Brother is 5 and doesn't know all 50, yet!  I've had intentions to do some sort of Geography study last Fall and over the summer, but the idea of doing a coloring page and finding it on the map isn't appealing-- to T, or myself!  So what am I to do?!? 

We've read The Little Man in the Map, put together our Geography puzzle, colored coloring pages, played Scrambled States, added food incentives.... and I finally have said, "So be it!" We'll just keep on keepin' on, and he'll eventually learn.  At this age, it's all about exposure... right?!  At least that is what I tell myself ; ) 

While he's still in the process of learning all 50 States, we recently picked up a book called: Puzzle Maps: U.S.A. by Nancy Clouse.  It's an older book and was on an end shelf at our library.  It caught my eye so I picked it up and I am glad I did.  It is a really neat book!  It addresses that maps may be all different sizes and colors, but the shapes of the states never change.  The author then uses the shapes to make different pictures!  It is a very creative approach to Geography! 

Here is what we created: 
Can you guess what State this is?  
These 5 States make a Rooster!  Do you "see" it?!
Do you know what 11 States make up this dog?!  
Neat, huh?! 
For another Geography activity, I came across the idea of putting treats on the different States and as T names them, he can keep the treat-- which I thought was a great incentive, but it also resulted in a sugar high!  So, I had to re-think the concept a little bit and used it with our Scrambled States and Melissa and Doug Money Set-- no sugar high and he's learning to count money in the process! 

Here's what we did: 

We set up our puzzle and laid pennies, nickels, dimes, and a quarter (on our home state) on the 50 States.  We used more pennies than nickels or dimes to practice making change.   We played Scrambled States per the directions, except if we both had State cards in our pile that answered the question, we both get to take the cards.  If you don't have the game, this may sound a bit confusing!  As we make a pile of our State cards, we also take the coin off that State. 

For example, if we drew a card and it said "States that start with A" and T has Alabama and Arizona, he takes the coins off those States.  If I also have a State that starts with "A,"  I do the same.  Adding the monetary element excites T a bit more.  After all the State cards are gone, we both count our money to see who has more.  I have told T that after we play with pretend coins a couple more times, we'll play for real money!  That is another reason we play with more pennies than any other coin!  : )

Check out my Social Studies: Geography/ History  Pinterest board for more ideas!
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