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States and Capitals Games to Play in Class

written by: Kellie Hayden • edited by: Donna Cosmato • updated: 1/20/2012

How many adults can identify and name all 50 states and capitals? This is a huge memorization task that many elementary or middle school students must undertake. Try these ideas to make it a little easier for your students.

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    Game to Memorize the United States and Its Capitals

    Students need to learn their state capitals and states. It is something they can use the rest of their lives. However, it is a huge memorization task. One way for students to learn is to make a game to learn states and capitals. Or, students can use songs and rhymes to memorize states and capitals. There is even a cell phone app to learn the states.

    Capital and State Game Idea

    Materials Needed: United States Map, lamination machine, scissors, permanent marker, manila envelope, markers, colored pencils and crayons

    Teachers will need to copy an outline map of the United States for each student. It is best if the map is blown up to a larger size, such as legal size or 17x20. Then, the teacher needs to laminate the maps so that students can play their games several times and store it in the manila envelope.

    Directions to Create the Map Game

    1. Ask students to color each state a different color or color the states so the states touching each other are not the same color. Then, the teacher will need to laminate all of the maps.
    2. Give back the laminated map to the students and tell them to cut the map into state shapes.
    3. Instruct students to label the states and its capital with permanent markers on the back side of each state.
    4. Tell students that they need to put the map back together for practice.
    5. After the map is complete, students can store it in a manila envelope with the student's name marked clearly.

    Games to Play with the Map

    Students can pair up with another student to play a guessing game. This can be played with more players, but it may take more time. The students should be able to see each other's maps so that they can learn from each other's mistakes.

    1. Each student needs to arrange the map pieces on his or desk correctly.
    2. One student needs to point to a state and name the state and capital correctly. If the student gets it right, the student can go again. Each time a student gets a state and its capital correct, he or she can place that state in the envelope and count it as a point. If the student is incorrect, the other student gets a turn.
    3. Students need to keep playing trying to correctly identify the states and their capitals until one person gets them all correct or until the allotted time is over.
    4. The person with the most points at the end wins.

    Additional Tip: Students can also use the state shapes as flash cards to practice memorizing the states and the capitals.

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    Study Sheet for State Capitals

    Another way to help students to study for state tests is to complete a paper and pencil matching activity. Students will need to match the state capital with its state. The students will need to know their states in order to do this activity.

    State Capital Matching Handout

    Directions: Students need to give the name for each state capital. The state capitals are arranged in groups of ten.

    Group A

    1. Olympia, 2. Salem, 3. Sacramento, 4. Helena, 5. Boise, 6. Carson City, 7. Phoenix, 8. Salt Lake City, 9. Honolulu, 10. Juno

    1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________

    5. _______________ 6. _______________ 7. _______________ 8. _______________

    9. _______________ 10. _______________

    Group B

    1. Cheyenne, 2. Denver, 3. Santa Fe, 4. Austin, 5. Oklahoma City, 6. Topeka, 7. Lincoln, 8. Pierre, 9. Bismarck, 10. St. Paul

    1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________

    5. _______________ 6. _______________ 7. _______________ 8. _______________

    9. _______________ 10. _______________

    Group C

    1. Madison, 2. Des Moines, 3. Springfield, 4. Jefferson City, 5. Little Rock, 6. Baton Rouge, 7. Lansing, 8. Columbus, 9. Frankfort, 10. Nashville

    1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________

    5. _______________ 6. _______________ 7. _______________ 8. _______________

    9. _______________ 10. _______________

    Group D

    1. Jackson, 2. Montgomery, 3. Tallahassee, 4. Atlanta, 5. Columbia, 6. Raleigh, 7. Charleston, 8. Richmond, 9. Annapolis, 10. Dover

    1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________

    5. _______________ 6. _______________ 7. _______________ 8. _______________

    9. _______________ 10. _______________

    Group E

    1. Trenton, 2. Harrisburg, 3. Hartford, 4. Albany, 5. Providence, 6. Boston, 7.Indianapolis, 8. Concord, 9. Augusta, 10. Montpelier

    1. _______________ 2. _______________ 3. _______________ 4. _______________

    5. _______________ 6. _______________ 7. _______________ 8. _______________

    9. _______________ 10. _______________

    Answers:

    Group A: 1. Washington, 2. Oregon, 3. California, 4. Montana, 5. Idaho, 6. Nevada, 7. Arizona, 8. Utah, 9. Hawaii, 10. Alaska

    Group B: 1. Wyoming, 2. Colorado, 3. New Mexico, 4. Texas, 5. Oklahoma, 6. Kansas, 7. Nebraska, 8. South Dakota, 9. North Dakota, 10. Minnesota

    Group C: 1. Wisconsin, 2. Iowa, 3. Illinois, 4. Missouri, 5. Arkansas, 6. Louisiana, 7. Michigan, 8. Ohio, 9. Kentucky, 10. Tennessee

    Group D: 1. Mississippi, 2. Alabama, 3.Florida , 4. Georgia, 5. South Carolina, 6. North Carolina, 7. West Virginia, 8. Virginia, 9. Maryland, 10. Delaware

    Group E. 1. New Jersey, 2. Pennsylvania, 3. Connecticut, 4. New York, 5. Rode Island, 6. Massachusetts, 7.Indiana, 8. New Hampshire, 9. Maine, 10. Vermont

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