Disclaimer: Nerdalicious Homeschooling Post ahead.  Feel free to skip if you don’t give a flip.

After Ali learned all of her states (and a lot of countries) a couple of years ago, she lost interest in geography (or maybe I did…or both), and so she forgot many of them. However, thanks to some of her favorite iPad apps, she has had a renewed obsession, and knows them better than ever.

“Hey Mom, look!! This chip looks just like South Carolina!!”

“I bet I can eat my piece of cheese into the shape of Brazil!!”

And, since my guiding philosophy for preschool homeschooling is to focus on what they’re interested in at that moment, we’ve been making states and countries a part of everything we’ve been doing.

…And I’ve been using it as a secret weapon to get her interested in other things.

Ali has been hesitant to draw at all lately – she has quite a complex that she “can’t” draw.  So I thought that perhaps tracing something she was consumed with would help her regain her confidence in drawing.

So we got out a black and white outline of the United States and a big piece of paper, and set to work tracing together.


At first, she was all like, “I can’t trace that” and “Can you help me with the wiggly lines?”  But I finally convinced her that she could indeed do it, and pure dweebish excitement soon followed.


I traced the eastern side and she did the western and midwestern sections, highly focused and quite perfectionistically.


And she was quite proud of our finished product.  Actually drawing the states further solidified in her mind where and what they all were.

(And she might have helped me out with which was Vermont and which was New Hampshire.)


Once she had her map, she wanted to know which states I had been to…then her, then Noah, then Chris.  You get the point.

So, because I constantly sometimes tire of answering the same questions over and over, I decided that marking down this information was a perfect use of our map, and she was thrilled for the project.


There is nothing that fulfills Ali’s soul more than to have a legend, so over the next week, she spent her playtime calling various friends and family members and painstakingly quizzing them, state by state.


Every time she would get a dot in a previously un-visited state, she would do a delighted squeal, jump, and fist pump.

“Have you been to Montana?”

(sigh) “Mommy – Kitty hasn’t been to Montana.”

“Have you been to North Dakota?”

(squeal) “Mommy – Kitty’s been to NORTH DAKOTA!!!!”

Her map has become her prized possession – her passion in life.


So far, we don’t know anyone who has been to Maine, Vermont, New Hampshire, or Rhode Island.  And Ali is not happy about their lack of color.


…but I have a feeling that she won’t give up until she’s checked every box and colored every lonely state.

Because living a life with unchecked boxes is not really living at all.
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42 thoughts on “Geography Geektasticness.

  1. If she makes one of those dots stand for “random readers of Mommy’s blog”, she can add me! I got stuck in a snow bank at the side of a road in Vermont, on my way to Lincoln, New Hampshire. :)
    Never made it as far as Maine though.

  2. Wow, that looks fun! I need to get K more interested in geography. She doesn’t know all of her states yet. This looks like a fun way to get her excited about it.

    1. It’s great, because every time Ali quizzed someone, she was repeating all of the states. By the time she got done, she was a little expert! I highly recommend it.

  3. Vermont makes a V! That’s how I always remembered to tell it apart from NH. I absolutely love that Ali loves legends. You guys might be interested in the book Maphead by Ken Jennings (the guy who won all of those Jeopardy games). It’s all about people who love maps and I think it has a lot of geopgraphy trivia. I follow him on Twitter; he’s surprisingly funny.

  4. This is amazingly cool! Will you do this for countries then, perhaps continent by continent? I’m filing this idea away for future use when Eli is a bit older. Thanks!.

    1. I’d like to, but I’m afraid she’d be sorely disappointed at the small amount of countries she’d get to mark. But we’ll definitely be tracing them!

  5. Haha. Love it. I’ll have to do this w/ Abigail because she loves her states puzzle. And I don’t know if this helps since Ali doesn’t know my husband Jonathan, but he’s been to Maine for business.

  6. For random readers of Mommy’s Blog category…I have Rhode Island for ya! :)
    When we go on long road trips, we take a blank map of the United States and the kids fill it out on our way to our destination. The requirements for filling out the map depends on the age of the child. The 3-year-old gets a sticker that matches the state to put on the map after we exit the state. Just turned 5-year-old has to write the intials of the state, then color the state. 7-year-old has to write the full name of the state, the capital, and one thing she liked about the state. It helps with the never ending question of “are we there yet”…look at your map and answer the question. :)

    1. That sounds great! I love the idea. I’ve also wanted to get her one of those license plate bingo games for our next long car trip. It would keep her busy for a while!

  7. I’ve been to Maine and New Hampshire! I want on the map :)
    I’ll happily relay my other states if she wants me to. Just let me know! What a great project. I might do this with my boys. I have a huge stack of tracing paper just waiting to get used. So glad I’ll have you to guide my schooling journey next year.

    1. That IS exciting! I want to do the countries, but was afraid she’d be disappointed to only get to mark four dots for me. My Dad has quite the collection, though…

  8. I am awed… also, the only thing I can think of that my child can do impressively is sometimes not require me to wipe her poopy bottom after going potty. Perhaps I’ll just let you foster her for a short while??

    1. Ali will be thrilled to hear that! She talks about you a lot for some reason. You really make an impression on four year old girls, apparently.

  9. My husband’s 4s is on the way. He still has a 3G so he is very excited. I’m jealous! I have a 4, but I want Siri too. My line isn’t up for upgrade until June, though. So sad :(

    I think this falls under that hash tag #firstworldproblems ;)

  10. dude. you’re a homeschool rockstar! well, you and Ali as a pair, I guess!
    remind me not to visit your blog on days where I’m feeling bummed about our homeschool progress…because you guys be rockin’ it homeschool style!!

  11. That is awesome, she did a great job tracing and I love the colorful legend. I’m glad Ali’s ahead of Luke in school, so I can “steal” lots of great ideas from you :)

    1. Ali wanted to call you so badly, but I would never let her. I kept explaining to her that you had three kids to keep up with – you weren’t probably wanting to talk to someone else’s on the phone at the same time!! However, she would love to interview you. Maybe on Sunday!

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