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Featured GraphicMystery State Game Tests Students' Knowledge of 50 States

Which state is the "Badger State"? Which states were independent nations before becoming states? Where would you find the most crayfish? The Mystery State quiz will help your students learn about the 50 states as it improves their research skills. Give them one set of clues a week, or one clue a day, and see who is first to figure out the Mystery State! Included: This complete teaching resource includes clues for all 50 states and Washington, D.C.

This week, Education World offers a game to last the whole school year! Each week, introduce a new set of five clues about one of the 50 states and see how long it takes students to identify the Mystery State.

And the Mystery State Is...

The Mystery State game makes a perfect daily classroom activity! Offer a clue a day. The first clue is the most difficult, but they get easier. Friday's clue is a dead giveaway! When students think they can correctly identify the Mystery State, they submit their guesses on a special answer slip. Just print our answer-slip sheet (see below) and cut it up. Keep a ready supply of answer slips on hand! Collect students' responses in a hat or special Mystery State box. Review submissions each day during morning-meeting time to see whether anyone figured out the correct state!
Mystery State answer slip 1
Mystery State answer slip 2 (higher print quality; Adobe Acrobat required)
 
Guessing About Canada

And the mystery province is Don't miss the Canadian version of our Mystery States game. See the Mystery Province/Territory Game!

The Mystery State game is designed to keep students guessing from September to June! While they are guessing, students are learning about history, exercising their geography skills, and developing their research abilities. The game can be used in many ways. You might give students all five clues on Monday or extend the fun by revealing a new clue each day.

 

Each set of state clues is arranged in order of difficulty. The first clue tells something relatively obscure about the Mystery State, so only your best researchers will be able to figure out the state's identity from that clue. Subsequent clues offer additional facts that are easier to track down through a variety of library or online sources. See the sidebar below for a list of online resources students might use to discover the Mystery State.

The Mystery State clues are all here -- just choose a state and start the fun!

MYSTERY STATE CLUES

Which state is it?

  • According to the latest census data, this state's population of about 4.4 million ranks it the 23rd largest state in the United States.
  • Workers in this state built the rocket that carried the first people to walk on the moon.
  • The square dance is this state's official American folk dance.
  • This state was the home state of Helen Keller.
  • The state of Georgia forms most of this state's eastern border.

(Alabama)

Which state is it?

  • The flag of this state was designed by a 13-year-old boy.
  • This state has 6,640 miles of coastline, more than all other states combined.
  • William A. Egan was this state's first governor.
  • This state does not border any other state.
  • The United States purchased this state from Russia.

(Alaska)

Which state is it?

  • This state became a state on Valentine's Day.
  • This state is the top producer of copper in the United States.
  • Telephone numbers that begin with the area code 623 can be found in this state.
  • The palo verde, which is Spanish for "green stick," is this state's official state tree.
  • This state is home to Grand Canyon National Park.

(Arizona)

Which state is it?

  • The only active diamond mine in the United States can be found in this state.
  • The state was named after a Native American tribe whose name means "south wind."
  • The fiddle (violin) is this state's state instrument.
  • "The Natural State" is one of this state's nicknames.
  • This state is the home state of former President Bill Clinton.

(Arkansas)

 

Which State Is It?

Do your students have Internet access? If so, the following Web sites make excellent resources to help students track down the name of the Mystery State. Appropriate grade levels for each resource are noted in parentheses

50States.com (Grades 5-12)

Fun State Facts (from the U.S. Census Bureau) (All grades)

Internet Public Library Kidspace: Stately Knowledge (All grades)

Geobop's North America (All grades)

Geobop's Symbols (All grades)

Explore the States (Grades 4-12)

ClassBrain's State Reports (Grades 4-12)

Phil's Place -- Tourism Page(Grades 6-12)

United States -- Facts and Statistics (All grades)

 

State and Local Government on the Net

 

Which state is it?

  • The world's largest land-locked harbor is in this state.
  • This state has more than two dozen telephone area codes.
  • A gold rush began in this state in 1848.
  • This state's population, 33.8 million, is the largest of all U.S. states.
  • The state is the home of Death Valley. Death Valley is the lowest point in the Western Hemisphere.

(California)

Which state is it?

  • The world's largest silver nugget was found in this state in 1894.
  • The highest suspension bridge in the world is in this state.
  • Members of the Utes, a Native American tribe, have lived in this state continuously since the 1500s.
  • On average, this state has the highest altitude in the United States.
  • U.S. Air Force Academy cadets attend school in this state.

(Colorado)

Which state is it?

  • The oldest public library in the United States can be found in this state.
  • The oldest U.S. newspaper still being published was founded in this state in 1764.
  • The USS Nautilus -- the world's first nuclear-powered submarine -- was built in this state in 1954.
  • This state is the birthplace of American Revolutionary War patriot Nathan Hale, who is quoted as saying, "I only regret that I have but one life to lose for my country."
  • The "Constitution State" is this state's nickname.

(Connecticut)

Which state is it?

  • Swedish immigrants to this state built the first log cabins in North America in 1683.
  • This state was named after an early Virginia governor.
  • The state bug of this state is the ladybug.
  • This state was the first of the original 13 states to ratify the U.S. Constitution.
  • It is the second-smallest state in the United States.

(Delaware)

Which state is it?

  • This state has 663 miles of beaches.
  • With a population of about 16 million people, this state has the fourth-largest population in the United States.
  • Spanish explorer Juan Ponce de Leon came to this state looking for a "fountain of youth."
  • The space shuttles launch from this state.
  • Walt Disney World and Epcot Center are in this state.

(Florida)

Which state is it?

  • The second-oldest city in the nation is located in this state.
  • This state is named after a British king.
  • Five other states share a border with this state.
  • The Girl Scouts were founded in this state in 1912.
  • Former President Jimmy Carter is a native of this state.

(Georgia)

Which state is it?

  • This state used to be an independent nation.
  • The state's name comes from a native word that means "homeland."
  • Two active volcanoes can be found in this state.
  • It was the last state to join the United States.
  • This state is made up of eight islands.

(Hawaii)

Which state is it?

  • A city in this state has the longest main street in the United States, 33 miles.
  • You can find this state at 45 degrees north latitude.
  • The Snake River flows through this state.
  • The logging industry is important to this state. As a matter of fact, some people note that the state is shaped like a logger's boot!
  • The largest city in this state is Boise.

(Idaho)

Which state is it?

  • The highest point in this state is 1,235 feet above sea level.
  • This state's name comes from a native Algonquin word.
  • This state has two major league baseball teams, both based in the same city.
  • Abraham Lincoln lived in this state when he was elected president in 1860.
  • The tallest building in the United States can be found in this state.

(Illinois)

Which state is it?

  • This state is the easternmost prairie state.
  • The Wabash & Erie Canal, which operated from 1833 to 1874, increased the population and commerce in this state.
  • This state hosts a famous car race.
  • Forty-one miles of this state's border are along Lake Michigan.
  • This state's name means "Land of the Indians."

(Indiana)

Which state is it?

  • This state has one town on an island.
  • This state's smallest city park is located in the middle of a road.
  • This is the only state whose eastern and western borders are formed by water.
  • This was the home state of actor John Wayne.
  • Iowa City was the former capital of the state. Today, Des Moines is the capital city.

(Iowa)

Which state is it?

  • This state elects four people to the U.S. House of Representatives.
  • Helium was discovered at a university in this state in 1905.
  • This state leads the United States in cattle and wheat production.
  • This state's state song is "Home on the Range."
  • Female aviator Amelia Earhart was born in this state.

(Kansas)

Which state is it?

  • This state has 120 counties.
  • Originally, this state was part of Virginia.
  • This state is bounded on the west, north, and east by three rivers: the Mississippi, the Ohio, and the Big Sandy.
  • The Mammoth-Flint Cave system, which at 300 miles long is the largest underground cave in the world, is in this state.
  • Both President Abraham Lincoln and Jefferson Davis, president of the Confederate States of America, were born in this state.

(Kentucky)

Which state is it?

  • This state has the tallest state capital in the United States.
  • At different points in its history, this state was owned by France and Spain.
  • This state's counties are called "parishes."
  • Ninety-eight percent of the world's crayfish are in this state.
  • This state hosts a huge Mardi Gras celebration every year.

(Louisiana)

Which state is it?

  • The first chartered town in the United States -- York, chartered in 1641-- is in this state.
  • More than 90 percent of the blueberries in North America are grown in this state.
  • The most easterly point in the United States -- West Quoddy Head -- is in this state.
  • Nearly 90 percent of the nation's lobster supply is caught off the coast of this state.
  • This state is almost as big as the other five New England states combined.

(Maine)

Which state is it?

  • This state was named after a queen of England.
  • The first umbrella factory in the United States opened in this state in 1928.
  • Francis Scott Key wrote "The Star Spangled Banner" in this state while watching an attack on Fort McHenry during the War of 1812.
  • This state's capital, Annapolis, is the fourth-oldest state capital in the United States.
  • The United States Naval Academy is located in this state.

(Maryland)

Which state is it?

  • The first public school in the United States was established in this state in 1635.
  • The first World Series was played in this state.
  • Cod is this state's official state fish.
  • This state was the home state of four U.S. presidents: John Adams, John Quincy Adams, Calvin Coolidge, and John F. Kennedy.
  • In 1620, the Mayflower landed in this state.

(Massachusetts)

Which state is it?

  • This state is made up of two peninsulas.
  • You will find three mottos on this state's flag.
  • More cereal is produced in this state than in any other.
  • Four of the five Great Lakes make up parts of this state's borders.
  • The state is known as the world's "Motor Capital."

(Michigan)

Which state is it?

  • The oldest rock in the world, dated at 3.8 billion years old, was found in this state.
  • The blueberry muffin is the official state muffin of this state.
  • This state's motto is L'Etoile du Nord, which is French for "Star of the North."
  • Charles M. Schultz, who drew the "Peanuts" cartoons, was born in this state.
  • This state has 12,000 lakes.

(Minnesota)

Which state is it?

  • Three countries -- France, England, and Spain -- flew their flags over this state at separate times.
  • Nearly 60 percent of this state is covered by forest.
  • Coca-Cola was first bottled in this state in 1894.
  • Cotton is the most important crop in this state.
  • This state's name is also the name of the largest (by volume) river in the United States.

(Mississippi)

Which state is it?

  • The first successful parachute jump from a moving plane occurred in this state.
  • The longest river in the United States flows through this state.
  • The ice-cream cone was invented at the 1904 World's Fair in this state.
  • This state's motto is the "Show Me State."
  • Mark Twain, the author of Tom Sawyer, was born in this state.

(Missouri)

Which state is it?

  • According to the Guinness Book of World Records, the world's shortest river is in this state.
  • The highest temperature recorded in this state was 117 degrees and the lowest was 70 degrees below zero.
  • This state is the fourth-largest in the United States but is the sixth-least populated.
  • Grasshopper Glacier, named for the grasshoppers frozen in ice, is found in this state.
  • The Missouri River starts in the Rocky Mountains in this state.

(Montana)

Which state is it?

  • The world's largest elephant fossil is in this state.
  • This state's legislature has only one house.
  • Corn and beef are two of this state's top products.
  • Former president Gerald R. Ford was born in this state.
  • This state is nicknamed the "Cornhusker State."

(Nebraska)

Which state is it?

  • Although this state is the driest state, its lakes are home to many rare fish.
  • Gold and silver discoveries drew miners to this state in the 1860s.
  • This state entered the Union during the Civil War.
  • This state gets its name from a Spanish word that means "snowcapped."
  • Hoover Dam is in this state.

(Nevada)

Which state is it?

  • Artificial rain was first used in this state in 1947.
  • The highest ground level wind speed in the United States was recorded in this state.
  • The first free public library in the United States was established in this state.
  • Dartmouth College, founded in 1769, is in this state.
  • This state's motto is "Live Free or Die."

(New Hampshire)

Which state is it?

  • Motion pictures (movies) were invented in this state.
  • The first nearly complete dinosaur skeleton was found in this state in 1858.
  • This state was the first to ratify the U.S. Bill of Rights, in 1790.
  • This state is the most densely populated state in the United States.
  • Inventor Thomas A. Edison had his lab in this state.

(New Jersey)

Which state is it?

  • This state has the lowest water-to-land ratio of all 50 states.
  • The leaves of this state flower can be used to make sandals, rope, and baskets.
  • Smokey the Bear, an orphaned bear cub, was found in this state.
  • Carlsbad Caverns, one of the largest cave systems in the world, is located in this state.
  • The roadrunner is this state's state bird.

(New Mexico)

Which state is it?

  • This state was named after an English duke.
  • The first railroad in the United States was constructed in this state.
  • This state was home to our nation's capital before it was moved to Washington, D.C.
  • Five states -- Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania -- border this state.
  • You can find the Statue of Liberty in this state.

(New York)

Which state is it?

  • The first "sit-in" to protest racial segregation occurred in this state.
  • Hurricane Floyd damaged this state's coast in 1999.
  • The first English child born in the United States, Virginia Dare, was born in this state in 1587.
  • Blackbeard the pirate was killed off the coast of this state.
  • The Wright brothers flew the first aircraft in this state in 1903.

(North Carolina)

Which state is it?

  • The geographic center of North America can be found in this state.
  • The most rural of the U.S. states, farms cover 90 percent of its land.
  • Explorers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark wintered in this state in 1804-1805.
  • Among all U.S. states, this state has the third-smallest population.
  • Fargo is this state's most populated city.

(North Dakota)

Which state is it?

  • The first coeducational, interracial college was founded in this state.
  • The first professional baseball team was established in this state.
  • Seven U.S. presidents were born in this state.
  • This state's flag is the only state flag shaped like a pennant.
  • The Professional Football Hall of Fame and the Rock'n'Roll Hall of Fame are in this state.

(Ohio)

Which state is it?

  • The world's first parking meter was installed in this state in 1935.
  • More human-made lakes can be found in this state than in any other state.
  • Only two states have capital cities that include the state name; this state is one of them.
  • This state is home to the largest Native American population in the nation.
  • The National Cowboy Hall of Fame can be found in this state.

(Oklahoma)

Which state is it?

  • This state has more "ghost towns" than any other state.
  • The state flag of this state has designs on both sides.
  • The hazelnut is this state's official state nut.
  • Portland, a city in this state, is called the "City of Roses."
  • Crater Lake, the deepest lake in the United States, is in this state.

(Oregon)

Which state is it?

  • The first baseball stadium was built in this state in 1909.
  • This state is the only one of the 13 original colonies not bordered by the Atlantic Ocean.
  • Punxsutawney Phil, a famous groundhog who checks for his shadow every Groundhog Day, lives in this state.
  • A town in this state is considered the Chocolate Capital of the United States.
  • The Declaration of Independence was signed in Philadelphia in this state in 1776.

(Pennsylvania)

Which state is it?

  • Polo was played for the first time in the United States in this state.
  • The state is named after a location in Greece.
  • President John F. Kennedy was married in this state.
  • Roger Williams founded this state after he was banished from Plymouth, Massachusetts.
  • This state is the smallest state in the United States.

(Rhode Island)

Which state is it?

  • This state's largest county is 1,134 square miles.
  • The first tea farm in the United States started in this state in 1890.
  • This state produces and ships the most peaches of any state east of the Mississippi River.
  • A coastal plain covers two-thirds of this state.
  • The first battle of the Civil War took place at Fort Sumter in this state.

(South Carolina)

Which state is it?

  • This state is home to the world's largest petrified wood park.
  • About 1,500 free-roaming bison live in a park in this state.
  • Part of this state is called "the Badlands."
  • The famous Native American Sioux chief, Sitting Bull, was a native of this state.
  • Mount Rushmore, on which the faces of U.S. presidents Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, George Washington, and Theodore Roosevelt are carved, is in this state.

(South Dakota)

Which state is it?

  • In the late 1700s, settlers here formed a "state" known as Franklin.
  • The stars on this state's flag represent the major landforms found there.
  • This state has five state songs, including "Rocky Top."
  • The Grand Ole Opry in this state is the longest continuously running live radio program in the world.
  • This state is the site of Graceland, singer Elvis Presley's home.

(Tennessee)

Which state is it?

  • This state was an independent nation from 1836 to 1845.
  • More wool comes from this state than any other state in the country.
  • This state's official mammal is the armadillo.
  • This state is the second-largest state in the United States.
  • President George W. Bush was governor of this state before he was elected president.

(Texas)

Which state is it?

  • The country's first department store opened in this state in the late 1880s.
  • The world's largest natural-rock span is located in this state.
  • The 2002 Winter Olympic Games were held in this state.
  • Mormons were among the first settlers in this state and still make up a high percentage of the population.
  • This state is home to the Great Salt Lake, which covers 2,100 square miles.

(Utah)

Which state is it?

  • A sculpture of two whale tails sticking up out of the ground can be seen in this state, which shares no borders with an ocean.
  • Before joining the union, this state was an independent republic from 1777 to 1791.
  • This state is the top producer of maple syrup in the United States.
  • The Green Mountains dominate the landscape in this state.
  • The capital of this state, Montpelier, has the smallest population of any state capital.

(Vermont)

Which state is it?

  • The world's largest office building is in this state.
  • The first Thanksgiving in North America was held in this state in 1619.
  • This state's capital also was the capital of the Confederate States during the Civil War.
  • The country's second-oldest college is located in this state.
  • Eight U.S. presidents were born in this state, the most of any state: George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, William Harrison, John Tyler, Zachary Taylor, and Woodrow Wilson.

(Virginia)

Which state is it?

  • The first-ever revolving restaurant opened in this state in 1961.
  • This state has the world's longest floating bridge.
  • This state is the top producer of apples in the United States.
  • This state is the home of Mount St. Helen's, a semi-active volcano that erupted in 1980.
  • This state is the only state named after a U.S. president.

(Washington)

Which state is it?

  • The first brick street in the world was laid in this state in 1870.
  • This was the first state to enact a sales tax.
  • Nearly 80 percent of this state is covered with forest.
  • The first Mother's Day was celebrated in this state in 1908.
  • Pennsylvania and Maryland border this state on the north; Kentucky and Ohio make up its western border.

(West Virginia)

Which state is it?

  • If all this state's rivers and streams were laid end-to-end, they could circle the globe at the equator.
  • At one point in time, this state was part of the territories of Indiana, Illinois, and Michigan.
  • This state is a leading producer of milk and cheese.
  • The large number of lead miners in this state who spent most of their time digging underground earned this state the nickname the "Badger State."
  • This state borders two of the Great Lakes: Michigan and Superior.

(Wisconsin)

Which state is it?

  • The term dude originated in this state.
  • This state was the first state to grant women the right to vote.
  • This state's license plate features a man on a bucking bronco.
  • The JC Penney stores were founded in this state.
  • This state has the smallest population of all the 50 states.

(Wyoming)

Which state is it?

  • This place was named after Christopher Columbus.
  • This place is divided into four quadrants: northwest, southwest, northeast, and southeast.
  • Its local government functions as a state, county, and city government.
  • British troops burned parts of this place in 1814.
  • It became the nation's capital in 1800.

(District of Columbia: Washington, D.C.)


Article by Ellen R. Delisio
Education World® Editor in Chief
Copyright © 2005 Education World

Originally published 09/23/2004
Links last updated 08/02/2005
 

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