20 July 2007

Geography lessons no one can resist

In: 6+ Years

Michelle (author of the wonderful blog Scribbit) came up with a brilliant way to teach her kids about geography. This would be a wonderful way to build excitement for summer travel.

To help teach my kids about the world around them I implemented a trick for teaching basic geography.

I scrounged around for the maps occasionally included as inserts in National Geographic Magazine and put them up, one at a time, in a conspicuous place in the kitchen. I wrote questions on index cards and taped them up around the map for the children to solve.

For example, this month we've got a map of the Balkans up so I have "Where is Budapest?" and "Where is Montenegro?" stuck around it.

When a child can answer all the questions they show me their answers and are eligible for a treat from The Bag. Sometimes it's a few M&Ms, sometimes it's a fancy pencil, whatever I happen to have on hand.

A good place to find maps is in the discard piles at your local library. They're always getting rid of old magazines, just make sure they're current.

For some other fun links to maps try these:
Middle Earth, an interactive map of Tolkien's world with zooms similar to Google Earth
Trove Maps, a site where you can make your own treasure maps
PediaX, a map that allows you to find the twenty top Wikipedia entries for each location
Bible Map, a site that allows you to see a map of each geographical location in the Bible indexed by the verse where it is referenced
Mapsack, which maps beaches, temples, ruins, castles and other cultural sites
Napoleon Dynamite's Sweet Map of Preston, Idaho, where you can seen scenes of the movie and where they were filmed. Sweet!

And don't forget Google Maps Mania which has the latest news on maps and Mapshark, which is a custom search engine for the best online maps.

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If you want a nice big National Geographic world map that won't rip, you can buy a laminated one here for $25, or a wall-sized map (110" x 76") for $99:
http://www.ngmapstore.com/shopping/product/detailmain.jsp?itemID=162&itemType=PRODUCT&iMainCat=6&iSubCat=46&iProductID=162

Thanks again Asha for the link and mention.

Please just remember that geography is not merely a list of places, just as history is not merely a list of dates. I love your idea of posting maps in a conspicuous place so the kids get familiar with reading maps. An excellent skill to learn. But if you can start working in "why" along with the "where" they will be REALLY learning geography. As one of my geography profs said "Geography is the study of why what is where, and so what, especially why and so what."

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