Draw the USA

Published on Thursday, March 08, 2012 in , , , , ,

Kyle Brooks' photo of USA license plate mapMnemonics are a great way to learn things like USA states, but they're not the only way.

Confucius once said, "I hear and I forget. I see and I remember. I do and I understand." In this post, we'll take that principle to heart and learn to memorize the states by doing, as opposed to just visualizing.

In this particular case, doing refers to drawing. Don't worry, you don't have to have any special drawing skills, or even any experience. All you need is pencil, paper, the desire to practice, and the practice itself.

Ken O'Brien of Mahalo.com will teach you how to draw the USA. The lessons start with this easy introduction on how to draw the 48 contiguous states:

The approach of breaking up the project into smaller, easier-to-manage parts is a great way to learn just about anything, not just drawing. When practicing this myself, I've found the recommended path is the best way to go:

Entire USA

You might be wondering why I'm bringing up drawing in a blog that usually focuses on memory and math feats. The real aim of this blog is to improve your mind, and have fun while doing it! Plus, focus and practice are essential to memory, anyway. When mastering the map, you might surprise yourself at how well you learn the states.

If you watch a documentary on the history of the states while practicing, it can help lock in each state. Not surprisingly, I found that watching How The States Got Their Shapes to be particularly helpful, since you get a better sense of the history and the reasons the shapes have those particular shapes.

Believe it or not, drawing a map of the USA can serve as a surprisingly entertaining memory feat, or even a bar bet. There are already some videos up of people impressing an audience by drawing the USA, and some of them taking longer than the 2 minutes that you should take to draw your map.

If you decide to present it as a feat, the facts you can learn from How The States Got Their Shapes can help add plenty of entertainment value. For example, are you familiar with the fact that the Tennessee/Georgia border is under dispute to this day?

Want another challenge after this? Take this feat to the next level by drawing the entire world. Just as with the USA, you can learn to do it from memory, or cheat a little and fold the paper to give you landmarks.

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1 Response to Draw the USA

8:22 PM

This is a great memory stunt and also surprisingly practical. Some directions you can take it; Learn to draw it starting from any state so a spectator can name the starting state, Have spectators name friends or family in different states, which you memorize and then repeat back when someone gives you the name or the state. There's a million directions you can take it