Wake up those Brain Cells with Geography Activities
Are you still enjoying a relaxing summer? Or with August just around the corner, are you already in the throes of preparing for the next school year? Whether you are in relaxation mode or actively working on school prep, it doesn’t hurt to take advantage of learning opportunities to start waking up those sleepy brain cells with summer geography!
Here are several easy-to-implement ideas to add geography study into your day from the comfort of your own home, or as you hit the road, board a plane or sail by sea:
- Start with the basic map facts like the title, compass rose and legend/key of a map.
- Have your kids create a local map as you teach mapping basics. You can drive around your neighborhood or town as you teach. Kids can draw the streets and landmarks as you go.
- Younger children can start with drawing a map of your home.
- If traveling, have your students draw a map of your destination. Allow older kids to be the navigators.
- Check out some books from your local library on your state and create a state notebook.
- Spend some time learning the state flag, flower, motto, and capital. Incorporate art into the lesson and allow the kids to draw or paint these items for your notebooks.
- Spend some time researching your state’s history. Have your students dictate or write about what they have learned (and provide illustrations, of course).
- Take a small road trip and visit your capital if you live close enough. Otherwise, find a local historical landmark to visit.
- Simple and engaging for young elementary students, try the iTunes 99 cent app called “Stack the States,” available for iPhones and iPads.
- Allow your kids to familiarize themselves with the shape of each state and learn the capitals. Tracing and drawing states are especially great for young learners who need to work on fine motor skills.
- Another hands on option is using the free online geography (and other) games at sheppardsoftware.com. In fact, you can learn world geography at this site as well!
- Create your own United States puzzle by printing the map on cardstock. The kids can cut out the states, mix them up, and then put them back together again.
- For kids that love the movie Cars 2, take a large world map and lay it across the floor. Talk about the different countries each car is from and have the kids place the cars on the right spot on the map.
- Kids can learn the continents and perhaps several different countries by just discussing your family tree. Do you have branches from England? Scotland? South Africa? China? Label them on a map: “Uncle George Born in Germany”
- For the Lego lovers, build different monuments from around the world such as Stonehenge, Great Wall of China, Leaning Tower of Pisa, Eiffel Tower, or the Great Pyramid of Giza.
- You can also visit restaurants from around the world in your home city then have your children find the country on the map.
Editor’s note: the image at the top of the page is a picture of a Yagua family in Peru. While in college, our daughter participated in a ‘storying’ trip up the Amazon river in Peru. Each team member learned a portion of the Old Testament to tell as a story to various tribes, many of whom had never heard the gospel.
You know this post would not be complete without a list of fantastic finds from the library or Amazon.com to resource your geographic explorations:
- Children Just Like Me, Kindersley. With this book you can read each day about a new child then place a pin or thumb tack on the map where that child lives. This book is a great way to view what other children eat, what their homes look like, what types of toys they enjoy, and a little bit about their surroundings.
- Maps and Globes. One of my favorite map/globe books for young children, this is a must-have. Enchantingly appealing illustrations show where to find the tallest mountain and the deepest ocean, and covers the countries of the world as well as how to find your way around your own neighborhood.
- DK First Atlas. Magnificent pictures entrance elementary readers while chock full of information about continents, countries, oceans, topography and more.
- Geography Songs. This is out of print so check out your public library or grab this used on Amazon if you can. This is a fabulous memory aid to learning states and countries!
- Ultimate Sticker Book: Flags of the World Especially helpful for your hands on learners, this is packed with 300 reusable stickers and has been updated as of 2012.
So are what are you up to at this point in your summer? Do you have everything together for the fall or are you lying on a beach somewhere soaking up the sun? Or somewhere in between the two?