When you say “Bismarck” does your child know to parrot back “North Dakota” (like little Noah in the Simpson’s episode “Father Knows Worst“) or does he greet you with the same blank stare he usually reserves as a response when he is asked to clean his room? Even if your child hasn’t yet had to memorize the Fifty Nifty United States and their capitals, many parents want their children to possess a basic knowledge of their home country, as well as the world.
Recently we covered top world geography apps, but there are a number that focus specifically on the United States. Whether your child prefers to explore US geography by playing games, completing puzzles, or taking quizzes, there is sure to be an app to please him.
Stack the States is the de facto gold standard for US geography apps, not because it the most efficient way to geography facts, but because it strikes the perfect balance between learning and entertainment. Kids will choose to play it because it’s fun, and if they happen to learn something, so much the better. If Stack the States proves frustrating, particularly for kids younger than age 6, children may enjoy 50 States With Flat Stanley, which uses the popular series Flat Stanley as an inspiration, and emphasizes a state’s location and spelling.
In the US, where the family road trip is a cultural institution, geography has long been associated with car travel. A number of apps use this conceit as a conceptual springboard. State Bingo and Geography Drive (PadGadget = 5 stars) use similar methods, turning learning US geography into a digital journey from coast to coast. Both of these apps offer clean, colorful UIs that will engage children from early elementary school through middle school. Plate Found is a brand new addition to the app store that reinvents license plate bingo for the digital age. Plus it’s universal, so kids can also play on an iPhone or iPod touch.
Parents who want a more straightforward, didactic approach to US geography have several age-appropriate options. Younger children will enjoy United States Puzzle Map, which offers a digital version of the old school jigsaw puzzle — you know the one — where the puzzle pieces are shaped like the states. Boxed version of this puzzle are increasingly difficult to find, so it’s encouraging to see that kids who may not have access to the original puzzle can still have the same experience, albeit digitally. Children aged 5 to 8 will likely enjoy Montessorium’s Intro to Geography, which covers all of North America. Older children, particularly those who are apprehensive about taking geography in school, will benefit from Discovery Education’s comprehensive approach to US Geography.
At PadGadget we do our app shopping via US iTunes accounts, but it is likely that there are good resources in other countries as well, some of which may not be available to US account holders. Are you a reader who lives outside the US? Please share your favorite geography edu-apps that cover your home country with us in the comments.
Photo courtesy of Flickr user Mike Licht.