Whenever I’m back home in the US, I’m always grabbing books about the nation to help the kids learn more about their American side. One of my favorite books is Laurie Keller’s The Scrambled States of America, which I just read to them again today.
In it, Kansas decides he’d like to meet some other states, so all the states have a party to meet each other. That leads to the idea of swapping places. It’s a great, great read, with all the states deciding they want to go back home in the end. My kids are entranced by it and love parts like Nevada and Mississippi falling in love, plus some of the trivia the book has.
Even I learned things, such as Michigan having a thumb region. That got me to thinking about the various ways I learned to remember some of the states, which I’ve been passing on to the kids.
California is easy, in that they know it’s Daddy’s state. But I did initially remind them that if you look at it, it sort of forms the shape of a C for California. Similarly, Texas always looked like a lower case T to me, while Louisiana looks like an L.
Then there are parts of states that have names based on what they look like, such as the Oklahoma panhandle and the aforementioned Michigan thumb. I’d love to know what some other areas of states are referred to by those who live there. It’s one of those things you don’t know if you’re from out of state. If I eventually enable comments on the blog, please post some you know of below.
At the end of the book, all the states are listed alphabetically. I made the mistake of singing these for the kids to the tune of Fifty Nifty United States, or what I can remember of it from learning it in elementary school. I always lose the tune near the middle.
Turns out, the song was written by Ray Charles. You can get the sheet music or CDs here, see the lyrics (you’ll know most of them) here. Want to hear it? Through Yahoo’s audio search engine, I found a short clip here.