- Games, Toys, and Hobbies
Stack the States!
My kids are collectors. Their first collection was silly bands. That went to the wayside when they went back to school and they were banned. I was not as sad as they were. Nothing really interested them again until Beyblades. They knew all the names and which were better at balance or power. They asked to watch the show, which I yet to understand, but they seemed to follow. They carried the ‘battle course’ and beys to the pool every day. During rest break, the group got together and played. Even the older kids were playing. My kids thought they were cool.
Then they started collecting something educational, state quarters. My husband stakes claim to planting the seed for this idea. I thank him every time I was reminded that no one can find New Jersey!
State Quarter Program
The state quarter program began in 1999. My kids were coming into collecting state quarters at the perfect time because all the state quarters were out! They could actually find all 50 states. Now my kids are interested in finding the quarters from the National Park System.
State Quarter Maps
Check Your Pockets, Please!
My kids even requested family members to check their pockets. They were curious if anyone had any spare quarters sitting around to help them finish their collections.
Our Responsibility Chart
Can We Earn More Quarters?
They requested that I implement behavior charts. You started at green and could work your way up or down during the week based on positive or negative behavior. At the end of the week, if you were on the highest color, you got a quarter from my stash. If you were lower than green, you owed me a quarter.
St. Nick arrived on December 6th this year and was kind enough to give all 5 kids their own state quarter maps. We were no longer carrying around baggies of quarters. Good thinking, St. Nick!
My 2 year old is completely unaware of how far along his collection is.
What Was the First State?
I was amazed at how quickly my 5 and 6 year olds were learning the states. I had purchased one collection off eBay which contained all 50 state quarters. They were displayed in the order they came into the Union. My 5 year old son used to sit and look at this book daily. You could say, “Hey, what was the 12th state?” He knew right away. Not only had he memorized all the states, which was the goal of the activity, he had memorized the order.
Stack the States App
Stack the States
Then, we found the game Stack the States.
This is the best .99 I ever spent. It is an App created by Dan Russell-Pinson. The game gives you a question such as, “Which state’s capital is Harrisburg?” There will be 4 pictures of states. Then, you chose the correct answer. If you answer incorrectly, they will tell you the correct answer. If you answer correctly, you will earn that state. You will then stack your state. The states’ sizes are relative to their sizes in real life. For example, Texas is huge and Hawaii is very small. Alaska is much harder to stack than Colorado due to its irregular shape. Your goal is to balance your states and get over the goal line. By stacking the states over this line, you will then earn a state. The state is added to your map. When you visit ‘My States’, you can click on any state you have earned to see facts such as name, date it entered the union and capital. The questions ranged from learning capitals, what state borders which, landmarks and what the state looks like.
My kids played this game as often as I would let them. Quickly they had learned all their states, capitals and map position. I could say, “I border Canada, Idaho and Oregon…” and my 5 year old would yell out, “Washington!” I was amazed at how this simple game kept their attention how quickly they learned.
Stack the Countries
Then I noticed that the Dan Russell-Pinson had created a new app, Stack the Countries. Genius! My kids were all on board. I knew this was going to be more of a challenge because we went from 50 states to nearly 200 countries. I was surprised because all of the countries were included, some of which were even new to me! I would sit with my kids and watch them play. I had to help read a bit more since the words were bigger and less familiar. But again, they had earned all of the countries, had even learned flags. Someone would be playing and yell across the room, “Where is the Vatican again?” Someone would reply, “Italy!” “The Hague is where?” “You know that one…the Netherlands!” More surprising was when my son told me his chicken nugget looked like Suriname. And, by the way, that is in South America.
Presidents Vs. Aliens
Presidents vs. Aliens
And, then my explorers found the 3rd game. Presidents vs. Aliens. I was glad to see we weren’t stacking Presidents heads! In this game you can set the parameters to include or exclude things such as political party, historical events or facts. By answering the president question correctly, you earn the President’s head. It served as a ball that you then launched at the aliens attempting to knock them down. When you cleared the alien board, you earn a President. Presidents were then added to your master page in the order that they served in office. Quickly, they were recognizing all 44 President’s faces and nearly memorized their order. When you get to a certain level, you can play Executive Order. In this game you are given all the Presidents faces in a random display. Just put them in order. The 3 boys would quickly work together and organize the page. I know they were faster than I would be!
Russell-Pinson additionally has a great math app, Rocket Math. In this game, you chose type (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division) problems and a level of difficulty. The more questions you answer correctly the more money you have. You can then assemble a rocket to launch on a mission. My kids enjoy making crazy rockets. If they want to make another, they need more money so they need to do more math problems. They don’t even realize what they are learning!
- Dragonvale: A Lesson in Patience
My kids are obsessed with Dragonvale. Learn a little about the game and most of all, why I let the play it.
Check Them Out!
Now, my kids are currently obsessed with Dragonvale. We discussed breeding and incubation periods all the time.
I periodically check to see if Russell-Pinson has developed a new game. I am so impressed by their entertaining as well as educational content.
Now that your kids’ have defeated all the levels of Angry Birds and are waiting for the next upgrade, check out Stack the States, my favorite by Russell-Pinson. You might have to brush off a few cobwebs to help them out.
If you can’t remember the capital of Missouri, maybe you can ask my kids!
© 2012 Karen Lackey
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