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P.E. Central Lesson Plan: USA State Tag / Mississippi River Shuffle
Students should review the names and locations of the states as well as the principal geographic features.
Purpose of Activity:
The purpose of this actvity is to reinforce the geographic location of the states of the U.S.A. (relative to the Mississippi River or to other geographic features you may choose).
Suggested Grade Level:
Materials Needed:
Large map of the U;S;A; showing all the states and the Mississippi River; Foam tag-it mitts; Cut outs of states made from tagboard or construction paper; Physical activity: Chasing; Fleeing and Dodging
Lesson Plan:
Description of Idea

Mark off 3 lines across the width of your activity area or room. It's a big plus if your room is oriented east to west so the lines run north-south. If outdoors, the lines could be marked with cones, jump ropes, or paint.

There should be a center line of one color and two lines on each side 6-10' from the center line of a different color. The center line represents the Mississippi River. The area between the other two lines, including the river, is a neutral zone or no person's land. Students may be tagged if in this zone.

Two to three students are selected to be "it" and they start in the neutral zone, but may move throughout the entire playing area. They may wear the foam Tag-It mitts now available from various physical education equipment companies, but it is not a necessity. They could carry a foam ball or yarn ball as well.

Half of the other students are located on the west side of the Mississippi river and the other half are on the east side. The side of the river the students begin the activity on is referred to as their "home side".

The instructor begins by calling the name of a state. Students that are located on the "wrong" side of the Mississippi river must cross (may be wise to start the activity off by having the students walk, skip, hop, etc. as opposed to running right off the start) the neutral zone to the correct side (e.g. if Nevada was called students on the east side of the Mississippi would have to cross the zone to the west side). Students on the west (correct) side but moved in error to the incorrect side could also be tagged.

Students can be tagged if they are on the incorrect side or if they are in the neutral zone. If tagged they must spell the name of the state they missed using the letters of the alphabet painted on the walls. They perform a locomotor movement to each letter or they dribble a ball to each letter tossing/catching the ball at the letters.

If outdoors, or as an alternative, have them find the picture of the state made from construction paper and placed in a box. Periodically during the activity have students return to their "home side". This helps balance the numbers on each side and promotes independent thinking. Place a map on the wall as an instructional aid for reference (be sure to orient it to the east-west designation of your room).

Teaching Suggestions:

Change taggers frequently.

Stop and discuss states that cause difficulty.

Process the activity by checking for understanding and reinforcing states that were most commonly "missed".


Hold up a drawing or picture of each state.

For older students call out the state's capital.

Assessment Ideas:

A quick activity to assess learning: Have entire class stand on center line, designate east - west of centerline. Call out the name of a state. Students must shuffle step, skip, leap, gallop...3 steps to the correct side and back.
Terry Kramer who teaches at Rockwell Elementary in Fort Atkinson, WI. Posted on PEC: 4/6/2002.
This lesson plan was provided courtesy of P.E. Central (
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