Friday, July 5, 2013

Ten Resources for Learning Geography

What is the largest freshwater lake in the world?

        What is the capital of Nevada?

                     Is the Tropic of Capricorn north or south of the equator?

                                     What language is spoken in Switzerland?

 I have always enjoyed learning geography - memorizing states and capitals, rivers, bodies of water, countries and continents, etc. Geography study is included in our Tapestry of Grace history curriculum, so we label outline maps and learn about the geography of the places we are reading about in history. This really helps with understanding how people and places are connected through time, and how factors like climate, topography, language, etc. play into the events of history and the way people live. In addition to outline maps, we utilized websites as well as games that I accumulated to build our geography skills.

 Another way I encouraged geography knowledge in my kids was to host a monthly Geography Club for middle schoolers/ high schoolers , where we played quiz games, geography board games, puzzles, sampled food from different countries, let the kids do presentations. and had a lot of fun! 

Here are some of our favorite geography resources that you might enjoy using to increase your and your children's geography literacy!

1. Geo Puzzles  -
These puzzles are enjoyed by young children as well as teens and adults, and will help you learn the countries and continents in a hurry!  There is a puzzle for each continent, and puzzle pieces are the shapes of countries or groups of countries. The pieces are sturdy and thick, easy for small fingers to handle, and they fit together cleanly.  Good quality.

2.  Ten Days in the Americas  ( Asia, Europe, USA, Africa )
  This board game seems complicated at first, but is surprisingly easy to learn, even for elementary age children, so the whole family can play and learn together!  Using country cards and transportation cards, you must be the first to put together a sequence of 10 cards that constitutes a  "journey" from country to country.

 3.  Professor Noggins card games
Players take turns rolling the dice and asking each other questions from the cards, choosing from the Easy or Hard section depending on the age of the player.  If you answer correctly, you get to keep the card; incorrectly and the card goes to the bottom of the pile.  The player with the most cards at the end wins!  Simple and fun way to learn or review basic facts and trivia. 


4. MegaMaps
These have been a lot of fun and a favorite in my TOG Co-op class!  With your regular printer at home, you can print outline maps of continents and countries in a variety of sizes, ranging from a single sheet of paper to an 8 page x 8 page monstrosity that is over 6 feet across!  My favorite size is 4 pages by 4 pages,  which as great size for laying on the kitchen table or taping up on wall or door.  Once printed, it takes a bit of work to tape the pages together.  I then color ( or have the kids color ) bodies of water, countries, etc with crayon, and use Sharpie markers to add whatever features I desire, like mountain ranges, stars for capital cities, etc. An atlas book or a detailed map printed off the internet is a great help with this part.  Then I cover the entire thing with clear contact paper, add self-stick Velcro dots, and print off labels on card stock, also covered with clear contact paper and stuck with a Velcro dot ( I buy them in the craft section of WalMart ).  Now I have a great, reusable teaching tool!   Put all the labels on the map and study it together, then remove the labels and use a digital kitchen timer to make a contest out of seeing who can put the labels back on correctly in the fastest time!

5.  Enchanted Learning
This has been one of my very favorite websites for printing off school enrichment activities, not just for geography, for my kids from K-8th grade!  Maps, phonics helps, graphic organizers for writing, holiday projects,  foreign language words,  fun worksheets on science topics... all kinds of neat things can be found here and are definitely worth the annual $20 fee.


This is another fun and educational card game.  Younger children will need help at first, and you may allow them to look at the enclosed map for "help", while older players have to use their memories. This game is similar to UNO, with players putting down cards on top of each other in a pile. Instead of matching a number or color, however, the card must show a geographic entity ( country, ocean, etc.) that shares a border with the previous card.  Passing is not allowed, but bluffing is.   Great fun, and you'll learn some obscure seas and bays that you never knew existed!

This is a free website with tons of learning games and quizzes for all ages  - geography, science, health, animals, history, math...    The geography games include a Tutorial level for learning, and then Beginner, Intermediate, Expert, Explorer, and even harder levels for some games, making this a site to test the knowledge of mom and dad as well as the kids.  

8. GeoSafari:   Electronic Game and Talking Globe

There was a GeoSafari electronic game under the Christmas tree our very first year of homeschooling, and it has gotten use pretty much every year since!  The styling is different now - there was no such thing as a "laptop" 19 years ago - but the fun of trying to beat the timer, or the time of your brother or sister, is still the same.  Card packs are available for just about every subject area - geography, phonics, science, art, math, history.   We've gotten a lot of mileage out of our game.  The Talking Globe is a new product that we never used, but it looks like it would be a great learning tool as well -  and every household should have a globe!

9.  National Geographic for Kids

National Geographic is the iconic source for photos and articles highlighting the variety of earth's people and places, and NG Kids has fun learning games, photos, and videos.  Teens and adults can click over to the main National Geographic site for more in-depth information.   *The magazine subscriptions are a good investment for those who like print media in their hands to encourage reading  and want a good source for photos to cut out for craft projects, etc. 

10. Mapping the World by Heart
This unique geography curriculum teaches students to draw from memory a detailed world map. 

Answers to the questions at the top of the page:
1. Lake Superior (by surface area )
2. Carson City
3. south
4.There are 4 official languages spoken in Switzerland - German, French, Italian, and Romansh


whiteboard videos said...

Thanks for sharing this post.It is excellent.I found a lot of informative stuff in your post keep it up thank you.

Anna Guzman said...

Thank you Beth, we have since acquired a few of the games you've mentioned as per your suggestion in the class. I hope to continue to share the love of learning geography with my children. Although the littles session was brief my children really looked forward to it. Thank you for providing us with the opportunity. - The Guzman family