As a 4th grade teacher, teaching the 50 states is part of my standards. I know most of you are doing this too. So how do we get students to learn their states and capitals? We all know that each student learns differently, so I approach this by using learning styles.
For visual learners I make sure I have state and capital items they can see. We use these big flashcards so they can see them all the time. You can post them on your wall or use them in a center ,they even come with a smaller version so students can have their own set. Have your visual learners practice these at home. Let them color them anyway they want. Remember the visual esthetic is really important for visual learners. What they color on their cards is what they will see in their minds as they recall the states and capitals.
When I am teaching auditory learners their states and capitals, I make sure I give them plenty of chances to hear me say the states and capitals. A great way of doing this is to go over them every day. An even better way is to listen to songs about them. Music has a unique way of helping students memorize almost anything, especially auditory learners. We love this song right now. My student’s were skeptical at first but once the rap started they were like” Aye”…hahaha. Find songs or better yet make up a song with your students that will help them remember their states and capitals.
These are the kiddos that need some movement. This works great along with music, you can just add some dance moves to your song.But one way I help my Kinesthetic student with their states and capitals is by acting out the states. It might be a word that rhymes with the state or maybe something that the state is known for. For example for Sacramento, California we pretend to be surfing, for Honolulu, Hawaii we do the hang ten sign.
This covers every learning style. Lapbooks allow students to research and read. That is great for visual learners. Students can also research by watching videos and listening to information. That is a plus for auditory learners. While creating a lop book kinesthetic learners will cut,glue, fold and go through the entire process of creating a lapbook. Lapbooks have so many benefits for students of any learning style.
I love love love lapbooks especially ones that get students to create, and research their topic. I love when my students tell me little random facts that they’ve found. That makes my teacher heart happy when students and this is why I love using them.
Chunking the states by region works really well. Make it simple by focusing on memorizing one region at a time. The goal is to learn one region a week. For regions that have a large number of states, I just add a few more days, so a week and 2 days or something like that. This gives my student time to practice the ones they don’t know.
Now let me give you my exact method. Each day we listen to the songs for all the states and do the activities, games and flashcards for all the states. Think of this like the morning meetings you have in kindergarten. This is when you sing all the songs, say the alphabet stuff like that. This is when you practice the skill they need to memorize, this is the same thing I do when I teach my students their states and capitals. This allows my students to interact with all the states everyday ensuring that they will memorize a few even if they are not the ones we are focusing on that week.
Let the students practice with flashcards. If you have floor puzzles or any type of interactive activity students can do, add that too. You can play Duck Duck Goose in this game you say a state and the goose has to say the capital. It sounds soo kindergarten but my 4th graders love it!! The point is to give them many different opportunities to learn their states and capitals. Find digital game students can play anytime like this one and this one that can be played as a review once they learn all their states and capitals or for students who need a challenge.
When teaching students the states and capitals I use several methods.One of the best things we can do for students is give them as many opportunities to learn something as we possibly can. That may include using various methods. I love to intertwine learning styles in every concept I teach, even something as simple as states and capitals.