Geography is one area where we hit the ground running. When I taught 5th grade, NO ONE in my class knew that Canada was the country that bordered North of the United States and Mexico bordered south of the United States. Not a single student. Furthermore, when we went to study current events several of my students identified the “middle east” as places like Ohio–you know, kind of in the middle, but eastern part of the United States.
A good knowledge of geography is essential to understanding politics, government and current events. With that said, here is a list of my favorite things to teach geography:
While this is not really a homeschooling magazine and it’s not strictly geography; this has to be one of my daughter’s favorites. Each “kit” is about $16 per month. The introductory package comes with a cute little passport, stickers and a world map. Each kit comes with a puzzle book that your child has to solve to get the clues, as well as a book about the country that you are “visiting”. In order to solve several of the puzzles it’s necessary to look up information in the booklet about the given country. My daughter has learned facts about countries, their locations, and is able to identify major landmarks of the countries she’s done. And all this learning happens effortlessly!
Make It Work!
These are books that explain various geographical concepts and then have a hands-on activity to go with them. This is a whole series that covers everything from the themes of geography to map reading skills.
I know these products are expensive but I still like them. One thing that I’ve done with Geosafari and items like these, is to ask for them for Christmas. My kids think that they’re fun enough to “qualify” as Christmas presents and I’m happy because they are educational. I especially like the talking globes!
My First Amazing World Explorer CD
This is software that you can use to help teach your kids geography. It will not make them good at recognizing countries on a blank map. However, they get to “visit” different countries, play games, and learn all sorts of interesting facts and information about the culture, history and landmarks of other countries.
Where In the World?
This is a board game with 4 different levels. I have to admit that we have a version released in the 80’s that I picked up at a garage sale. This is one of the most effective tools I’ve run across for getting your kids to just memorize facts about countries. Kids start by learning country location and then they go on to learn basic facts about countries such as populations, capitals, monitary units etc. In my opinion, it is the tamer version of studying for the National Geographic Bee. . .
National Geographic Bee puts out both a study guide, a Geo Challenge game and other various studying materials, including a daily quiz online. The bee is actually for 4th – 8th graders so if your children are young–the materials may be a little hard. On the other hand, if the $5,000 prize entices you and your child really loves studying geography, you just might want to sign up!
The absolute essential thing to teach geography though is outline maps. We have a large one of the world that is laminated so we can write on it with wipe-on markers. However, the best resource I have ever seen providing outline maps to homeschoolers is Geography Matters. They cater specifically to homeschoolers, have accurate maps and even unusual outline maps that you can’t get anywhere else.
What are your favorite things to teach geography?