(Last Updated on January 31, 2024)
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In this series of Games for Kids posts, I’ve been sharing some of the best educational games for the elementary and junior high age group.
(If you missed the US History Board Games for Kids post, you can check that out here.)
Our homeschool has benefited so much from using board games to supplement our other school work. We use games to teach new things, to review what we’ve learned, and just to make things more fun.
It’s easier to find quality games in some subjects more than others. But US geography is one area where there is no shortage of great options! The suggestions below are included on this list because they are appropriate for the 1st through 8th grade age range in content, gameplay, and difficulty.
I’ve arranged these loosely by player age, youngest to oldest, but many of these can be enjoyed by all ages or easily modified to work with older or younger students.
US Geography Board Games for Kids
Top Trumps: The United States (and others)
This trivia card game is awesome because you don’t have to already know the information. Anyone who can read can pick it up and play, so even my youngest kids have all loved it.
Each card has a list of stats about its featured item (depending on the theme this might be a location, famous person, character, etc.). The game is played like War and players simply compare stats to see who wins the cards.
Any of the following decks would be a perfect supplement for US geography:
- The United States
- National Parks
- Some US states are available: California, Florida, and Texas
- Some US cities are available: I know of Chicago and New York City
So much trivia is accidentally picked up in this game! We’ve got several versions and my 7, 12, and 14 year olds all love playing together. Top Trumps is perfect to throw in a purse or backpack or to play on long drives.
In Scrambled States of America, players are hurrying to be the first to find a state that matches the upturned requirement “Scramble” card (for example, by finding a state whose capital starts with an ‘A’ or a state that is red on the map).
Each player gets a US map of their own to reference which is great since no one has to look at the map upside down.
The deluxe version of the game comes with a short storybook, The Scrambled States of America, and the game design itself is very cute and cartoony to appeal to the youngest elementary students.
This game is very engaging for the younger age range – I’d say anyone reading fluently through age 12 (though many older kids and adults would still enjoy this silly game for fun and extra practice). If you do play with mixed ages/abilities, you may need to modify the gameplay so the youngest kids aren’t frustrated.
I really appreciate that the illustrations and story are lighthearted and the “serious” questions about capitals, for example, are mixed in with easy ones (like just finding a state of a certain color). If you’ve got any anxious kids, the silly factor in Scrambled States of America will go a long way in helping them relax and enjoy learning US geography.
Great States is a 2-6 player game for ages 7+, but you can easily use this with more players and younger players. I’d say as soon as a child can read, they could enjoy playing this game.
Players take turns spinning a spinner and choosing a question card from one of four categories: figure, find, fact, or fun. They then use the game board, which is a US map with various facts and pictures on it, to find the answer. All the answers are on the board if you know where to look, so it’s more like I Spy than a traditional trivia game.
There is a timer, but you could easily omit it for the youngest kids or for a more relaxed game. My kids have found Great States to be a fun and easy way to learn and review state capitals, abbreviations, and miscellaneous facts about the US states.
The Game of the States: Can You Sell the Most from Coast to Coast is a remake of a much older, unique game. The primary goal of each player is to move across the US map game board buying and selling goods as they go.
Kids get practice with math skills and very basic economics as they buy and sell their items. As they move back and forth across the map, they can’t help but practice their state geography. And the cards used to determine where to move contain state facts (capital, date of entry into the union, products, state flower, state bird) plus a featured fact to read aloud.
The gameplay itself is random since players pick cards to know where to move, and they spin a spinner to determine the values of their purchases/sales. This might make it a little frustrating for serious strategy game-lovers, but it’s great for young kids since they have a chance at winning Game of the States, even against older kids or adults.
As a homeschooling mom of three game-loving kids, I really appreciate when board games include options for multiple levels of difficulty. Race Across the USA has one set of questions geared for 3rd and 4th graders and another level for 5th grade and up. And I think interested 1st and 2nd grade students could play this as well, especially if they’re allowed clues or work in teams.
In this 2-4 player game, players travel across the country trying to earn the six state cards needed to win. To collect state cards, they need to answer trivia questions which are a mix of history and geography topics.
The game board is a US map with enough pictures to be interesting but not too busy, which is nice for students who feel easily overwhelmed. State names, capitals, and state nicknames are listed on the state cards. Overall, Race Across the USA is an uncomplicated, easy-to-learn game for US geography review.
There can never be too many versions of this classic game, right?
The America-opoly edition gives a great overview of American landmarks for kids ages 8+ (although my younger kids have always loved jumping into any version of Monopoly with their older siblings).
It’s perfect for use in a homeschool co-op or classroom setting since many kids are already familiar with the gameplay of Monopoly. It’s easy to jump right into playing without much explanation needed.
Monopoly: National Parks or one of the many, many editions featuring US states and cities would be other fun options for supplementing a US geography course or a unit on a particular US state.
When I first saw the game board for The 50 States Game, I wasn’t sure what to think of it. There aren’t any pictures on the states. In fact, there aren’t even state and capital names, so at first glance it looked a little plain. But, as it turns out, they just didn’t want to give away all the answers!
Throughout the game, players compare facts on their state cards (kind of like in Top Trumps), answer trivia questions, recognize state flags, and locate states on the map. Their overall goal is to collect all five cards that match their game sheet.
The added elements of a custom playing die and game sheets bring this game up a notch from other trivia-based games. I also love the included reference booklet, with color images of the state flags and a state and region map.
The 50 States Game has a sophisticated, clean design to it that helps it appeal to a wide age range (it’s rated for 7+). Its uncluttered look makes it less overwhelming for younger kids and, at the same time, it doesn’t seem babyish or cartoony to older kids and adults.
This quirky game for 2-5 players (ages 8+) is unlike any other on this list. The premise is that the players are the richest people in the country and are trying to buy up unique roadside attractions across the US.
Zillionaires Road Trip USA is not truly very educational (unless you’re doing a study on bidding/auctions or very bizarre landmarks), but it would make a great themed game for an end-of-unit celebration or as an amusing break from your usual US geography lessons.
It’s similar to the game Sequence, where you need to get four spaces in a row on the game board grid. As Property Cards are turned over, players bid on them to buy the bizarre roadside attractions (like the World’s Largest Fork in Missouri or the National Mustard Museum in Wisconsin). There are a few specialty cards to make it a little more interesting, but Zillionaires Road Trip USA is a quick-to-learn, straightforward game.
Side note: My favorite card is “Big Things, Small Town” in Casey, IL because my family took a very entertaining vacation there a few years ago. If you’re ever in the area, it’s worth stopping by for half a day to check out their unique small town with a collection of the “biggest things” around! I took the picture below of their Largest Mailbox… just one of many ginormous things there.
But I digress. Now back to the games…
Trekking the National Parks is part of Underdog Games Trekking Collection (along with Trekking Through History and Trekking the World). It’s a beautiful game and a wonderful, casual way to learn about (or review) the many natural wonders found throughout America.
Players gain points by visiting the National Parks on the game board (which is a US map). They can set up camp at major parks, claim park cards by arriving at a park first, and collect stones as they travel around the country.
The game is listed for ages 10+, but many younger kids could play this with minimal help once the rules are explained to them (there’s also a link in the game box to a helpful instruction video to get you up and running quickly). For a more detailed review of this game, check out this post by gaming dad and educator, Lakeside Gamer.
If your family or class is studying the national parks, Trekking the National Parks Trivia is another game (by the same company as the board game) that focuses on America’s national parks. This game, however, is a trivia game with a unique twist.
All the answers are numbers (years, dates, distances, etc.) and players make their best guesses to win. This is helpful for people like me who often get frustrated with trivia games since I can’t remember exact answers, but I might be able to make an educated guess!
My family loves this game! Ticket to Ride is what I’d call an “entry level” strategy game for 2-5 players, ages 8+. It’s more complicated than roll-and-move games, but not too strategy-heavy for my 6 and 7 years olds to begin to learn.
In this game, players are racing against each other to build their train routes to connect major US cities before other players block their way. The game board is a US map and there are a little over 3-dozen cities represented on the map.
Even though the names of these cities are about the extent of the “educational” content of this game, I still listed it here since we’ve enjoyed it so much. In fact, because my kids don’t think of it as one of our “school games”, I’d say it’s a huge success at subtly engraining those city names without them even realizing it.
Depending on the players and their comfort level with strategy games, this game has the potential to run a little long (45-60 min at times). If you plan to use Ticket to Ride in a classroom setting, consider going over the rules one day and then allowing a whole class period for actual gameplay. Or, consider using the junior version of this game – Ticket to Ride: First Journey – for even younger kids or a shorter game.
This is the most complicated game on this list and it has a steeper learning curve. Great American Mail Race is for 2-4 players, ages 10+. Younger kids who like strategy games might enjoy it, too (especially due to the silly city names I’ll talk about in a moment), but it will need more explanation to get up and running.
The premise is that the players work for the USPS and are trying to deliver as much mail (parcels, postcards, and letters) as possible to cities across the US. The paths drawn from city to city around the US map are reminiscent of Ticket to Ride. To make deliveries, players select from various transportation options like sea plane, hot air balloon, and mule, to name a few.
The cities themselves are not the usual capitals and major cities – instead they’re obscure, funny (but real!) places like Skiddy, Kansas or Bean Station, Tennessee.
Another unique aspect of this game is the USPS stamp and delivery slips used to keep track of players’ progress in the game.
Great American Mail Race is a fun and different game that kids and adults alike would enjoy. It’s definitely not the most educational game on this list, but its premise, USPS stamp, and silly city names make it unique and memorable. It would make an entertaining, loosely-geography-themed break from your usual US geography studies.
Hopefully some of these US geography games will help give you some ideas for your homeschool, co-op, classroom, or family!
For more great game ideas, check out the other posts in the Games for Kids series:
- US History Board Games for Kids
- World History Board Games for Kids
- World Geography Board Games for Kids
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