Memorizing the names of the 50 states is easy, but learning where they all fit on the map can prove to be a bit trickier. Puzzlin’ Pieces: USA helps kids learn to place all 50 states on the map, including some of the trickier ones such as Delaware and New Hampshire or box states like Wyoming and Colorado. This is accomplished through a simple game where kids drag and drop the states onto a blank US map. At first, they see outlines and receive hints, but as the game increases in difficulty, the hints decrease, making it harder to complete.
- Three levels of difficulty
- Hot and cold hints
- Timed games
- High score tracking
The mysterious background music and simple graphics take away a little from the U.S. geography game. Kids can’t turn off the music in the settings, but thankfully it plays at a much lower volume during the game itself. Unfortunately, the names of the states and the hot/cold hints also play at a lower volume, so kids will need to turn up the sound a little to make sure they hear the state names. They’ll also have to pay close attention to the shape of the states rather than their sizes, as smaller states like Rhode Island and Delaware look like much larger states until they’re actually moved onto the map.
When it comes to learning state names and locations, kids will really appreciate the help this app provides. The app offers three different levels of difficulty. At the first level, kids see the outlines of the states on the map, hear the state names as they select individual pieces, and receive hints to let them know if they’re hot or cold when it comes to placing the states. The medium level takes away the outline, but keeps the rest of the hints. At the hard level, kids lose all of the hints and outlines and must simply place the states on the map. Unfortunately, the hard level also takes away the state names, losing another chance to connect the names of the states to their shapes and location on the map and instead turning the final level into a game of fit the random pieces on the puzzle.
A timer runs at the top of the screen as kids complete each level and the game encourages them to continue to improve their record at each level. Kids will enjoy trying to beat their previous times and will appreciate the hot/cold tips as they place particularly difficult states. However, they may become frustrated at the hard level because many states have similar shapes and it can take a lot longer to complete the map.
While the app lacks a variety of games and has simple graphics, it still provides a good way to help kids learn basic U.S. geography. Perhaps a slightly lower price would be justified, but parents will still get a good value for what they pay.
The simple design of the game makes it easy for kids to pick it up and start playing right away. As they play, they’ll find supports to help them successfully complete the easier levels. Outside of the game, kids can access the settings screen, but all of the options within the settings screen are protected by a parental lock, keeping kids from roaming outside of the app and encouraging them to get back to the game.