The Scrambled States of America Game

For the summer, we loosely focused on reading, games, and geography (while also working through leftover math pages from Math U See Beta). That lead me to searching for geography related books and games and ultimately to The Scrambled States of America by Laurie Keller. Then I learned there’s a game that came of it! (There are lots of other good books, games, and puzzles out there, but I should probably stick to writing about this one for this post.)

Here’s a link to the GoodReads for the book and a YouTube reading of it. I also found this review of the game by a homeschooling family that focuses heavily on learning by playing games. We checked the book out of the library and I put the game on my Amazon wish list for Wallace. Last week I was searching Ebay for another game I want to get and remembered The Scrambled States. I managed to get a new one for a decent price and it arrived today!

Wallace got it from the mailbox and we immediately opened it and started checking it out. They like to delve into learning the cards and different parts of a game before we play, which makes sense to me, especially for games like this with lots of reading. After we checked out all the cards and they laid them out in alphabetical order on the floor, we read the instructions and started playing.

The Scrambled States of America card game set up on our kitchen table.

The game isn’t too complicated but the suggested way to play is a speed version where you get the point if you find the card first, slapping it and saying the name. That’s not really fair when a grown-up is playing against a burgeoning reader with only a little geography knowledge. So we played the simpler version where each player who has a card that fits gets the point, whether they were first or not.

I think Wallace’s favorite part was the silly state shapes with eyes and various accessories and expressions. That definitely lightens the mood of the game and keeps it from being too seriously academic. We learn best through play, right?! We played two rounds and it was fun for both of us.

Some of the questions are more educational. Such as which states touch a certain ocean or questions that make you inspect the names and capitols and might lead to learning how to read, say, and spell them, while memorizing the capitols/states and getting an idea of where they are located on the map. Some of the questions are simpler or sillier and based more on the illustrations, such as what color they are or if they have teeth/one eye/or a hat.

I’m now in search of ways to add onto the game or use the cards in different ways. We have a giant laminated US map that I got from a thrift store a couple years ago, so I’m thinking we will spread it out and match the cards to the more realistic map. I’m also interested in learning the meanings and histories behind the state nicknames that are on the cards. Some are complete mysteries that I’m pretty sure I’ve never heard before!

I’m open to ideas on other ways to use the cards if anyone has suggestions. Or other ways to play with the concept of the scrambled states. Another fun skill is just remembered is that we were putting our state cards in alphabetical order as we played. I think I take it for granted that I alphabetized books and class lists at a very young age while helping my parents.

(I intend to update this post if we do anything else with the game.)

9/12/21 – I woke up this morning to find the game set up on the table ready to play. I was not expecting that! We played one round after I ate a quick breakfast. We are getting a little quicker with the game, but I plan on keeping it not a race for a while. Then we sorted the cards into types of clues (state name, direction, touches something, etc). Then Wallace got the big map out and matched up all the state cards with their locations. They noted that all the states on the east side of the country are small and they get bigger as you go west and south, which I tried to briefly explain the reasons behind. I found this site that explains the origins of the state nicknames so I plan to keep it open on my phone when we play and read about a couple each time.

Our giant US map on the floor with the Scrambled States cards matched on top. I just realized that Connecticut and Indiana are in the Gulf of Mexico…

About JennP

Single mom by choice, lesbian, natural living, parenting, car free, Chicago.Thank you for reading and feel free to leave a comment!
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