Geography anyone? Some school systems cover geography twice, once in elementary school and once in high school. As a homeschooler, I covered geography in 5th grade, and then again, in 9th grade, using geography curriculum. Once a skill is acquired, practice retains that skill. However, geography is not something that is practiced on a regular basis.
Oftentimes, students and adults forget states and capitals very easily. Therefore, games are an excellent retention resource. There are several quality games that have been created to provide excellent learning opportunities and at the same time, these games are fun, entertaining, and competitive.
Sequence: States & Capitals
Sequence: States & Capitals is the game with a geography theme. The board contains the states and the cards are the capitals. The game play is the same to regular Sequence. Cards are dealt according to how many players are participating. Each player or team plays a capital card and places a chip on the corresponding state space on the board. The goal for each player or team is to acquire 5 in a row, either horizontally, diagonally, or vertically.
The states match their corresponding capital card by color and shape so if players do not know their states and capitals, game play is possible and easy. This game is one of the best geography resources that I own. The game in the pictures was found at a thrift store but the game is worth a full price buy. Learning happens while players compete to be the first to gain 5 in a row, or 2 rows of 5, depending on how many players are participating.
10 Days in the USA
10 Days in the USA is a completely different strategy from the Sequence game mentioned above. The goal in this game is to connect the states either by foot travel, car, or plane. Players arrange an imaginary travel agenda. Each player is dealt 10 tiles. During the game play, the players draw and discard to arrange the states in order (this game reminds me of Rack-O, where cards are drawn and discarded with the goal of arranging the numbers in order).
If states are adjacent, those states can be placed side by side, “foot travel.” If the states are joined by a third state, a car is placed in between. If the states are the same color, a plane that is the same color can be placed in between. Hawaii and Alaska are wild cards and the rules are very easy to follow. Competition is the name of this game, providing players with an exciting adventure in geography. Logic skills are needed for this one but younger children may enjoy playing with the help of an older child or adult. The game in the pictures was found used but once again, buying this game brand new is worth the cost. Learning happens during an electric game play.
Destination USA is another excellent choice for the geography category in game play. The strategy in this game is to collect chips and/or destination tickets. Each player is dealt state cards and each player has a starting state. During a player’s turn, the player moves to adjacent states using the cards drawn. The rules are easy to follow and makes this creative game competitive and fun.
The destination tickets are special states where players earn extra points for arriving first. As players move from state to state, chips are collected as points. No knowledge is needed before playing this game. Younger and older kids, and adults (!), can play together very easily. The game in the pictures was found thrifting but this game is worth the buy. Geography is learned in a fun, competitive environment.
Public schools, private schools, and homeschoolers all cover geography. The goal is for each child to walk into their adult lives with a knowledge of geography. Curriculum will cover this topic well but retaining the skill becomes a challenge if it is not used every day. Games provide an excellent resource for covering geography more consistently over the days, weeks, and years of childhood. Playing games will also aid in retention more so than just memorizing information for a test.
The goal in any academic setting should be a happy, competent, confident child with no tears, no fear, and low frustration. Games are an awesome way to create happy memories and to reinforce academic skills. Create children who run into the future with excitement and anticipation, ready to become lifelong learners.
Becky Hill lives in Green River, Wyoming, with her husband of 29 years. She has 3 grown children and 2 grand dogs. Becky earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Ouachita Baptist University, in Arkadelphia, Arkansas, in 1990. She earned a Biblical Studies Certificate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, in Deerfield, Illinois, in 1993. Becky began homeschooling two of her children unexpectedly 13 years ago. Despite many challenges along the way, Becky creatively enabled both of her children to succeed. While her homeschooling adventures are over, she loves tutoring children and helping them to conquer subjects with no fear. Her specialty is mathematics. One of her favorite hobbies is creatively incorporating games into tutoring. The goal, she believes, is no tears, no fear, and a competent, confident, and happy child. She has a Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter page called “The Happy Math Nerd.”