Teaching Geography with Children’s Literature: The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show


Have you ever been playing with your friends and all of the sudden someone shouts out, “Lets put on a talent show!!!” as loud as they can?  Well, that is exactly what happens in,  The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show, by Laurie Keller.  The rest of what follows in the colorful pages is the chaos that always emerges with the production of a talent show, only the performers are the various states of the United States of America.

Each state has their specialty or they team up with other states to come up with a killers act.  For example, New Jersey, New Mexico, New Hampshire, and New York form the band The New States on the Block and got the whole audience of states on their feet.

On every page there are so many fun and interesting things to read because Laurie Keller doesn’t include just one state on each page, instead in the background there are things going on with other states or states commenting on what other states are doing.  These little side note quips make the book so much fun to read.

Also, on the inside of both the front and back cover all of the states abbreviations are listed as well as when that state was adopted into the union officially.  There is a map at the beginning and the end of this book that shows the students exactly where the states are in the US Also, the fact that each state remains in its true state shape while they are performing in the talent show will help the students remember what the state look like and where it fits in with the rest of the states.

Curriculum Connections

The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show, would be a fun way to help reinforce some of the basic skills of geography learned in SOL 1.4 c & d.  The reader can point out Virginia and make sure students focus on its shape and placement in relation to the other states and as well as the overall shape of the United States.

Additional Resources

  • The prequel to this book is The Scrambled States of America, and would be a good book to pair with The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show.
  • Here is a link to a unit lesson on geography that sends “Travel Pals (beanie babies)” all across the country to visit as many states as possible before they return home at the end of the year.  It sounds challenging to implement but also like the rewards would be awesome.
  • A card/board game is available based on the original book The Scrambled States of America, but it would still be fun every for kids who had only read the Talent Show version.
  • This site has a variety of different geography games based on the USA, including recognition/knowledge of states, capitals, rivers, and more.

Book: The Scrambled States of America, Talent Show
Author: Laurie Keller
Illustrator: Laurie Keller
Publisher: Henry Holt & Co.
Publication Date: August 2008
Pages: 40
Grade Range: 2-5
ISBN: 978-0805079975

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