This has been my favorite birthday celebration to date, and I think it would make a perfect summer vacation theme. My son’s state obsession started at age 4 with the book “Scrambled States of America” which I’ve read a gazillion times. Then enter an iPad App called “Stack the States”. I thought it looked fun and, at best, it would help familiarize them with the names of the states. I honestly had zero expectation of my kids learning the location of all the states so young. When my son started pointing out clouds that looked like Idaho, I grew curious. I tested him on a blank state placemat. That little stinker knew 47 if them! The girls knew them too! I love it when kids surprise me. A states party it is!
I picked up a USA map puzzle which he came up with many ways to “play” with…..making the states talk (like the Scrambled States book), stacking them, and sorting them by letter. He loved to ask anyone who came over which states they had been to and he’d remove them from the map and say “This is what you have left to visit!”. It came to no shock he wanted a “States party!” Each library trip he’d pick out some state books. We hung up a $5 US map on his wall by his bed, which complemented the world map that was already up. One day after we had read two of the Chicka Chicka Boom Boom books, he said “Mom, is there a Chicka States book?” I looked. There wasn’t. So we made our own!
I LOVE Mixbook. I have ventured into digital scrapbooking and put my other tools (and mess) away. I’m a huge fan of making books with my kids. And, you don’t have to be all fancy about it. Paper and a stapler will do the trick too! Here is our Chicka Chicka States book that includes some of our early activities. We were able to read this to his PreK class and and also brought in Kansas Krispy Treats. A fun home to school connection!
My mental plan at his PreK class was to read the Chicka States book, then have the students take a bite out of the corner of the krispy treat to make it the shape of Kansas. When I arrived, it was snack time first and the kids were wiggling and drooling. I skipped the Kansas part for them, but my kids and I did it after school that day. The class liked the Chicka Chick States book and we left them the Scrambled States book for their library.
PARTY TIME! My apologies to Canada and Mexico, you didn’t make the cut for the cake, but rest assured the kids know where you are on the map. I cheated on this one, well, on most cakes I make. Dawson wanted all the states on his cake. Work smarter, not harder. I cut up a placemat;) Also, if you haven’t noticed, I love working in a homemade t-shirt to the birthday mix when I can. I used iron-on printer paper to make the map outline, then colored in the states Dawson had been to so far!
We strategically invited the set of grandparents who had just returned from a vacation in Alaska, and asked them to share their pictures.
The kids came up with the idea to play a Pin the Tail on the Donkey game with our magnetic USA, they called “Pin the State”. They found this highly amusing to open their eyes and see a state so out of place.
I dug state bingo out of my teacher stuff, and as a party gift (per our request to the visiting grandparents) Dawson received the fantastic trilogy of Scrambled States DVD, Talent Show Book, and card game, which all became part of our party.
When little cousins came over after their rest time they brought this awesome USA map rug. They all kind of just rolled around on it party day, but we have since used it for some twister/musical chairs type games. I’ve also seen the kids use toy people and cars to travel on the map. It was a great addition to our playroom.
We posted The Pledge of Allegiance on our fridge for the month. We also had many family dinner talks about patriotism, history, their dad/family/friends who have served in the military, our government, US monuments, accents, regional food (found a USA cookbook at the library), states our family members were born in, etc. I also bought the kids this book about the state they were born in. We had been given two others as gifts from states we had lived in. Great series, beautiful pictures and relevant content that you can dig further into.
This theme is an ongoing one at our house. It has built a wonderful foundation to geography and culture for our family. It has made me constantly aware of sharing all things geography with the kids. The kids love to follow along on my GPS, and show them the weather satellite map on my phone during storms. If John or I have gone for a jog or walked the dog, we’ll show the kids how we can map it online to see how far we’ve gone. We point out on Dawson’s state map places we’ve been or want to go, where friends/family live, or when friends/family pass through we find their journey on the map. Click HERE for ways to introduce maps at an early age.
And, I will leave you with this link to the Fifty Nifty States Song.…may it get as stuck in your head as it did ours on party day.
Happy USA Partying,