Spanish Version

Take the Challenge

Social Studies Activity

Students identify states and learn important information about each one by creating their own map game of the United States.


  • Blank map of the United States (one per student and additional ones for each group)
  • Almanacs and other reference materials


  1. Review with students the information about states available in an almanac. Some examples would be capital city, state symbols, nicknames, and largest cities. If the almanac contains a map of the United States, have students locate on the map a state you name then find its entry in the text.

  2. Divide the class into groups and distribute a blank copy of the map of the United States to each group. Explain the rules of the game as follows:
    • The game has three levels. Players begin at the Level 1 Challenge and go as far as they wish.
    • To do the Level 1 Challenge, each group must use the almanac (or other reference material) to enter the name of each state on the blank map, which then becomes the master map for the group.
    • Students study the completed map until they think they can identify all the states. Students who think they are ready to do so should get another blank map and fill in all the states. Students who do so successfully have met the Level 1 Challenge.
    • For the Level 2 Challenge, each group uses the almanac to add the state capital to the master map. Students who wish to try for this challenge study the map and add the capitals to their own map. Students who do so successfully have met the Level 2 Challenge.
    • For the Level 3 Challenge, each group decides on what additional piece of information to add to the master map. As at earlier levels, students study the map and then add the information to their own copies. Again, students who do so successfully have met the Level 3 Challenge.


  • Any students who get through all three levels are eligible for a championship match in which they test their knowledge of the states against members of other groups. You and the class will need to draw up questions and scoring rules. Students might enjoy presenting the match like a TV quiz show. One possibility is to have the quiz master present the answer and have the contestants give the question. For example, "Answer: Boston." "Question: What is the capital of Massachusetts?"

  • Students can use their maps and knowledge of states to play a game of 20 questions. See if students can figure out a state you have chosen. As students get better at playing the game, you might want them to play without their maps. You can also reduce the number of question allowed to determine the chosen state.

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