My hat, my face, my stylish shirt.
Two states that prop my hat.
A whispering state, a pack of books.
Say "Cheese!" A honking pat.
A puppy and a mitten,
With a cozy sleeve below.
My drinking cup's the final state.
You probably have no idea what this verse is all about, but hidden in it are the clues that not only help elementary school children learn the names of all the states in the Midwestern region of the United States, but also exactly where they are positioned in relation to each other on a map. No mean feat for seven lines of verse.
Learning the names and locations of all fifty states is no easy task, even for older students, but is one of the main building blocks of elementary geography education. Most children recognize a few states - perhaps the states they live in and the ones around it and one or two others - but memorizing all fifty of them and where exactly they are on the map is quite something else. The Northeastern states are all a jumble as are the ones to the west of Illinois and south of Virginia.
Enter Andrew Martonyi's The Little Man in the Map, the winner of the silver Moonbeam Children's Book Award in the Non-fiction picture book category. It is a gem of a resource for parents and teachers on a quest to make US geography engrossing and captivating for young children.
With the help of an imaginary "Man Inside the Map" (the shape formed by five states down the middle of the United States - Minnesota, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas and Louisiana), Martonyi employs mnemonics, simple verse and a healthy dose of creativity to help spark enthusiasm and excitement for an arguably dry subject.