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Great States! Game Review by Tammy Walker

International Playthings
75D Lackawanna Avenue
Parsippany, NJ 07054
(973) 316-2500

Great States! is truly an easy and fun way to incorporate United States geography into your schoolroom.  I played this game with my five and six year olds, who did wonderfully, and had a good time. 
The Great States! game board is a colorful and sturdy map of the United States replete with colorful pictures of state symbols, monuments, parks, and capitals.  Players spin a spinner pointing to find, fact, fun, or figure.  They then choose the corresponding card from the four piles, answering the question and/or finding the correct state, symbol, etc. before the timer goes off (timer included in set).  If they answer the question correctly or correctly identify the state from which the symbol, monument, or capital originates, they may keep that card.  The player with the most cards at the end of the game is the winner. 
Under the find card pile, a player is asked questions such as “which state is known as the ‘land of 10,000 lakes’.”  The card displays a picture of the lakes she will need to locate on the game board.  When the player searches the game board and comes across the matching picture, she will say, “Minnesota” (or she will have remembered this from having played it before and will not need to search).  Either way, she is learning.  Under the fact card pile, a player must ask questions relating to capitals, largest cities, and abbreviations for states.  The figure card pile asks players to do a variety of tasks such as naming bordering states, naming states you will cross if you go from one to another, or naming the smallest or largest states.  The fun card pile is just that, zany fun with geography and geographical names.  Your young students will have to spell California backwards; they will close their eyes and guess which state is larger, Colorado or Iowa; they will name 3 states that have capital names with fewer letters than their state name.  This game is truly fun and yet very educational.

The instructions state it is intended for children 7 and older, but beginning readers could also really get much out of this game, especially if they have a natural interest in maps and geography like my children do.  The game is well constructed and should withstand a bit of abuse from more “energetic” children, though the spinner, itself, is not made to spin well and often gets stuck.  I highly recommend this product to anyone who would like to introduce United States geography to her children in a sneaky, fun way.  Your children will actually remember where things are!

Product review by Tammy Walker, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, September 2008