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Speed State-ing



Educational Technology
Social Studies



Brief Description Tons of fun resources for teaching U.S. states names and locations.


Students will

  • work cooperatively with peers to learn state names and practice locating them on a U.S. map.
  • pinpoint the names and locations of states on a U.S. map.
  • use a variety of tools to practice and reinforce their knowledge of state names/locations.


U.S. states, U.S. map, geography, states, state location, location, geography games, capitals

Materials Needed

  • printable U.S. maps (links provided)
  • Internet access, for playing a variety of online geography games (optional)

Lesson Plan

About the Lesson
Youve probably heard about speed dating" -- a quick and easy way to meet marriage material. But this might be the first youve heard for speed state-ing." In this lesson, students will learn to identify the names and locations of the 50 U.S. states. Over time, they will be able to do this more quickly, and correctly.

Want ideas to help students learn the names of the 50 U.S. state capitals? See our lesson, Capital Ideas (for Teaching State Capitals)

We doubt that few of your students will qualify for the National Geography Bee, but that is no reason to believe they shouldnt know the names and locations of the 50 U.S. states. Getting to know those names and locations is the purpose of this ongoing activity. This might be a daily activity for a period of time. Once mastered, you might continue to reinforce the skill on a weekly basis.

This lesson provides the resources and games you will need to give your students plenty of practice in identifying the names and location of the 50 states. And practice is the key! Like the multiplication tables and many other skills, repetition is the best way to master the ability to identify all 50 states on a U.S. map. Fun repetition is what this ongoing activity is all about.

This activity includes a handful of online games that you can use to give students a variety of fun ways to reinforce their state-naming skills. See the Online Games section below for a list of games that can be used in the computer lab, as independent practice and fun, or as tools for setting up individual or team classroom competitions. If you have a classroom projector, all the better; that projector is a great way to bring these games into the classroom.

The Lesson
Arrange students into pairs. Provide each pair of students with one of these printable U.S. outline maps.

Have students work together in pairs to identify and mark the names of the 50 states on their map. Students might use atlases, wall maps, and any other resources to complete the task.

The next day: Have the pairs of students (the same pairs as yesterday is ideal) repeat the activity without any resources. Give them 15 minutes or so to fill in their maps. How well do they do? Then give them time to use map resources to correct their maps and/or identify the states they could not name.

In the days ahead, continue to repeat the activity. As the days pass, keep track of the number of states student pairs are able to correctly identify without using map resources. Each day, the student pairs should improve their state-naming results.

Eventually, separate students so they work individually to identify all 50 states on a U.S. map.

Online Games
These fun games will challenge students to identify the locations of the 50 states. These games can be easily adapted for use as classroom competitions. Or perhaps you make the games available in your classroom computer center and keep charts on which you record class champs" or best scores" for each of the games. Update the charts as new records are set.

  • Drag Race
    Drag each state name onto the correct spot on the map. How many can you get right? (Note: Alaska and Hawaii do not appear on this map.)
  • Where Is That?
    Select United States" and Level 1" to set up a game that allows students to identify (by choosing from four state names) the name of the state that appears in color on the map.
  • MapTron Select-the-State Game
    On the map, click the state whose name appears in the window. Try to improve your score and the time you take to play the game.
  • Place the State
    Drag each state outline and place it on a blank U.S. map. This game even records the average number of miles that you were off in placing the states. Challenge students to improve their scores each time they play.
  • Mr. Nussbaums Conquer the States
    Use the pointer to identify the location of each state name that appears. How many states can you correctly identify in 60 seconds? What is the highest score you earn?

Once most students have mastered the locations of the states, you might make practice less frequent. Check in each week or two to make sure they are retaining their state-naming skills.

Once students have mastered the names and locations of the 50 U.S. states, you might want to challenge them to learn the names of the 50 state capitals. You can find fun ideas for doing that in our lesson, Capital Ideas (for Teaching State Capitals).


Students will continue to improve their scores as they learn the locations of states and the names of state capitals. Once they master those skills, occasional reinforcement will help you verify that the skills are sticking."

Lesson Plan Source

Submitted By

Gary Hopkins

National Standards

NSS-G.K-12.1 The World in Spatial Terms
NSS-G.K-12.2 Places and Regions

NT.K-12.1 Basic Operations and Concepts
NT.K-12.5 Technology Research Tools
NT.K-12.6 Technology Problem-Solving and Decision-Making Tools

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