My son is obsessed with all things maps. If you didn’t think someone could actually love geography, well…
He collects maps the way some kids collect coins or stamps. Family, friends, and acquaintances have supplied him with maps galore, and I’ve bought him a National Geographic book of our National Parks—just because the thing is filled with maps. When a friend sent me a homemade apron made from atlas print material, Marcus went bananas over it.
“Hey! It’s got a map, Mom!”
We’re not doing a formal geography curriculum this year. It’s more like a little bit of this and a little bit of that. To me, geography is a subject that would be incredibly boring in a vacuum, divorced from its bigger (and much more interesting) brother, History. So I tacked some of it on to our history lesson: after listening to our lesson, we simply find the place the events took place in on a globe and/or map, and we might look up pictures of the country on the internet.
Then we fill the cracks in with bits and pieces here and there.
My favorite discovery in this department for this year has been the Draw ____ series. Each book focuses on a different country or continent, teaching you to draw and label it in its entirety, step-by-step.
I intend to slowly collect the series over time. This year I bought Draw the World and Draw Europe. Bri was able to follow the simple directions on her own to complete both maps. She’s already drawn Europe a couple of times, and I plan on having her periodically get the books back out and draw through each one multiple times as she gets older to help her memorize the layout in her mind.
While I originally only planned to assign a few steps a day, she ended up enjoying it so much she finished a map in one day of her own accord the first time I gave her the book!
Puzzles are another great way to help kids learn geography painlessly. While we have various geography puzzles, my favorite set would be the Geo Puzzles. What makes these different is the fact that each piece is cut out in the shape of a country, state, or continent.
Finally, there’s media/internet. In my history post I mentioned we watch “Are We There Yet?” videos from the National Geographic Kids channel on YouTube. (Another article I linked to in the history post also lists various other history and geography YouTube channels for kids.)
A couple of websites we use for learning and games include National Geographic Kids, and Ducksters. I also found a closed Facebook group called Learn Around the World which I joined. Members post a potpourri of neat ideas, games, projects, books, etc. related to geography. It’s a fun group to follow, so if you’re looking for ideas in this department join up and check the group out. 🙂
When I was a kid one of my favorite computer games was DK’s World Explorer. Having fond memories of this, I looked it up to see if I could find an updated version for my kids. Sure enough. With few changes, it’s exactly how I remember it. There’s a LOT of geographic information packed into this colorful game. To this day I still remember facts I first learned from it. Good memories!
How about you, Mamas? What are you using this year for geography?