In your car a lot during the summer? I know I am! So, our family started playing the License Plate game in our own hometown! It's fun, there's some learning involved and we have a great time 'competing' to see who can find the most plates!
For those of you who aren't familiar with the License Plate game, it's simple:
Beginning on the first day of summer, everyone who is playing the game keeps their eyes open for license plates from all the states in the U.S. When you see a plate for the first time, the person who identifies the state is rewarded by 'claiming' the plate on a printed map.
You can claim a plate by either coloring in the state or writing your initials on the state. We choose to play in our hometown for the challenge (sometimes it's easier to find plates when your on a road trip). It's also pretty cool to see who's visiting your city!
What do you need to play:
- Crayons or colored markers (assign one color to each person playing the game)
- A map of the United States – if you have younger kids, print a map with the names of the states; if your kids are older, print a blank map or a map with state abbreviations
What Can Kids Learn?
Young children can be assigned to color in the states that are found. This helps with fine motor skills and also identifying colors.
Kids between 6 - 9 should begin to identify the names of the states on the map – you might use words as ‘in the northeast’ or ‘near the state Grandma lives in’ to help them orient the location on the map.
Kids older than 9 would benefit most from having a blank map; they can write in the name of each state as it’s found, and then color with the assigned color. You can use a ‘word bank’ (which would be a list of all the states), or help them to sound-out and spell the state’s name.
If you have teens, ask them to list the state abbreviation for the states that are found or even CORRECTLY spell the name of the state.
You may want to weave in some math – estimate how long it will take to find all 50 license plates, which states do they think will be the most difficult to find (that may be based on how far you are from various states, or the population of various states).
Choose some type of reward for the family member who identifies the most states (in our family, whoever wins that honor gets to choose where we have ice cream on the weekend before school begins!).
Fun Add-ons to the Game
One fun way to extend the game is to tie it with a book! Here are a few suggestions:
"Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America" by Lynne Cheney is a beautifully illustrated book that highlights the culture, people and attractions of each of our 50 states.
What happens when Virginia and Idaho decide to switch places on the map?! Chaos begins and all the states get involved in the scramble. Laurie Keller's "The Scrambled States of America" is an all-time favorite for kids!
For more summer fun + learning ideas, visit We Teach's for their FREE Summertime Learning eBook!