States in Mind: Regional Rummy & State Line

by Alexandra G. Haag

Alexi is currently working as a free-lance instructional designer. She also works at keeping up with her husband and two children.

Instructional Objective The learner(s) shall be able to recognize the various regions within the United States and group states accordingly.

Learners/Context Two or more players, ages 6 and older.

Children, as well as adults, can benefit from learning the regions that make up the United States, both for personal reasons and for schoolwork. Since shape recognition and ability to group are the most necessary skills, a child as young as 5 could play Regional Rummy. In order to fulfill the instructional objectives of the game, however, children and adults who read are the most likely players.

States in Mind: Regional Rummy and State Line are grouping exercises that are easy to learn. The first is based on traditional rummy card games and the second is also a type of matching game. Children who can recognize shapes can play and older players can learn regions and, as they read the cards during play, can learn other facts about the states.

Rationale The grouping of state regions is a natural for rummy. There are seven regions within the United States:

Pacific Coast, with 5 states;

Rocky Mountain, with 6 states;

Southwest, with 4 states;

Midwest, with 12 states;

Southern, with 14 states;

New England, with 6 states

Middle Atlantic, with 3 states.

For easier play, the largest regions were divided, creating Southern (Atlantic), Southern (west), Midwest (east) and Midwest (west). Thus there are 9 regions within this card game.

By playing the game, participants would become familiar with the regions of the United States. Additional information on the cards is "nice to know" and is also material for other, more detailed games for adults.


REGIONAL RUMMY There are 50 cards and the game is played in the following manner:

1. Players are dealt 7 cards each. Remainder of stack is placed face-down (stock pile).

2. Player to left of dealers asks any one participant for a card from a particular region. If the participant has a card from that region, that card is given to player. If not, player draws a card from the stock pile. If card drawn from stock pile is of the region requested, player may continue to call on individual participants for a specific region until players or pile do not respond with region requested.

3. Play continues to left. When player has a complete region, that region is placed in a stack on the table.

4. If the card drawn for the stock pile completes a region, but was not of the region requested, player must wait until his or her next turn in order to place regional stack on table.

5. Game is won by player with no cards remaining in hand.

STATE LINE There are 50 cards and the game is played in the following manner:

1. All cards are dealt to all players.

2. Player to left of dealer lays down one card face-up. All other players try to be the first to place a card of a state that borders the face-up card on top of that card. Play continues, with players placing bordering cards on top of each other.

3. If player places a card for which no one has a bordering state, that player may play another card, starting a new stack of bordering states.

4. Play continues until one player has no cards left. That player is the winner.

Card Design

Each card representing one of the fifty states is designed similarly, containing the information pertinent to that state.

The map in the left hand corner is of the region of which the state is a part. The number below signifies the number of states in that region. This information is important during play when holding a large number of cards and so was put on the card where it would be most visible during play.

The map at the bottom of the page shows the state and its region in relation to the rest of the United States. This is particularly helpful during State Line , as the positioning of the map on the card causes a slowing of play for players less knowledgeable of U.S. geography. Learning the geography thus leads to more game-playing proficiency.

Additional information about the states was added to the cards for two reasons:

1. As player becomes familiar with game and cards, added information may prove of interest to the player, thus strengthening the instructional value; and

2. Additional information adds play value to the deck. Conceivably, this deck can be used in a Trivial Pursuit-type of environment. It could also be used in an adult game where players try to guess the information about the states, being rewarded with cards for correct answers penalized for wrong answers by taking cards away. The object of the game would be to hold the most number of cards at the end of play.

Deck Design The number of cards matches the number of states in the United States. The states are divided along regional lines, according to information provided by the World Book Encyclopedia. Some of the regions contained as many as fourteen states. The larger regions were divided to increase the chances of getting rid of cards faster, thus maintaining player interest and increasing satisfaction.

Design Process The cards were designed first with a rummy game in mind. A 7 year old participated in the formative evaluation of a version of rummy where cards were silently discarded and accumulated. After this game, it was deemed that the regions were still too large and were broken down accordingly. This, however, eroded the instructional integrity of the game. The present rules were used on the original deck containing 9 regional categories and proved to be successful.

Interestingly, the evaluation player began calling out for particular states, which could be another form of the game, much like "Authors." Further evaluation would be necessary to see if this other version would be viable. Certainly, it would increase instructional value.

Analysis of the deck yielded the game of State Line. Another card game called Borderline is nationally distributed, but does not have the same cards nor, I presume, the same rules.

The idea behind the cards is flexibility. Several rules could apply to the deck eliciting very different learning experiences. For adults, this deck could yield a challenging game where the players try to identify a state by its capital, motto or nickname, or even through a combination of facts such as flower, bird, and region.