Wow! I have lived my entire life looking at maps of the United
States and have never noticed the "little man in the map." Have
you? Well, in Martonyi's award-winning book, The Little Man
in the Map Teaches the State Capitals, you and your children
will discover who this little man is and how he can help with state/capital
recognition and memorization.
In this book, memory aids will be used to help your children make
connections between states and their capitals. Each state has a
2-page spread. On the first page is the state's name in bold letters
followed by Word Clues, the Full Clue, and a picture of the state
with its capital. For example, Alaska's word clues are "All I ask
ya (Alaska)" and "June snow" (Juneau). The full clue would be "All
I ask ya is for June snow."
On the second page you will see the state's capital in bold letters
and the heading "An easy way to remember," which consists of a
black-and-white cartoon illustration and a short rhyme using the
word clues. For example, Alaska's illustration pictures a man on
his knees begging for snow followed by the rhyme, "All
I ask ya and this I pray--Let June snow come
my way." (Word clues are always in bold letters.)
My children and I have been studying American history for the
past year and a half, but I have not overly stressed the complete
memorization of the states and capitals. I thought this book would
be a perfect fit for my boys, who are 8 and 11. For my 8-year-old,
I set the timer for 30 minutes, and he was able to read over half
of the book--he made it to Rhode Island. I promptly handed him a
worksheet (one that I already had) that listed the 50 states. Blanks
were provided for him to write in the capitals. He was able to
correctly fill in 17 blanks. Some capitals he already knew, but
the book may have helped with others.
My 11-year-old, who is in sixth grade, read the entire book in
one hour, and he took the same quiz I gave to his brother. He only
correctly identified 19 capitals. I was surprised since he has
had a little more practice with states and capitals. When I asked
him about it, he said the rhymes and pictures in the book confused
him and that he preferred learning the states and capitals simply
I have always liked word clues and word pictures, but I guess
I can see how this book could be confusing to learners who just
want the facts and no fluff. I did notice on my third grader's
paper that he wrote the word clues "Lantern" (for Georgia's capital)
and "Mount Gummery" (for Alabama's capital) instead of the actual
capitals, Atlanta and Montgomery. As with any method of study,
though, I think learning takes time. And honestly, I don't think
an hour is ample time to process all of the clues for each state.
With more time devoted to this learning method, I think my boys
would show much improvement, especially with capitals that seem
to stump them every time!
I found Martonyi's concept to be very clever, interesting, and
funny. However, I do think more than an hour is needed to completely
learn all of the states and their capitals. The content layout
is neat, and the text is easy to understand. I recommend this affordable
paperback ($11.95) for visual and creative learners. It is very
deserving of its many awards!
Struggling to learn the state capitals? Are you
frustrated or bored with rote memorization? The Little Man
in the Map just
might be your solution. Using rhymes and humor to teach the capitals,
this paperback book takes a creative approach in teaching kids
of all ages--and maybe even refresh the memory of parents along
This book has a simple and easy-to-follow format. Each state and
its capital are given a two-page spread. The left page gives sprightly
word clues that are created from the first letter of the respective
state and capital. For example, let's look at Austin, Texas. The
word clue for Texas is Tex-Mex; the word clue for Austin is awesome.
Then the two words are put together in a simple sentence referred
to as a full clue: "Tex-Mex [Texas] food is awesome [Austin] to
eat." The adjoining page is used to reinforce the clues; it gives
a two- to four-line rhyme. Using our same example above, the rhyme
would read as follows: "Tex-Mex food is awesome to eat. Everyone
says it can't be beat." Above the story, a whimsical picture is
given to visually help the learner remember the story.
What makes this format of learning unique is the way it triggers
and stimulates the brain to member facts using silly rhymes, stories,
and pictures. It takes the mundane task of memorization and turns
it into an exciting new way to learn the state capitals.
The versatility of this book is an asset as it can be used in
several different ways: independently by a child, in a small group
setting, in a classroom setting, by homeschoolers and non-homeschoolers
alike. It can be used as a stand-alone method for teaching the
capitals or in conjunction with another program. I found, however,
that The Little Man in the Map is the only book we'll
ever need to learn the state capitals with fun and proficiency.