Geography is a special subject because it uses something you can touch (the physical world) to explain so much about human behavior. Think about it. Where you live and spend your time – – your country, your state, your city, your town, your street – – can tell us a lot about the language you speak, your politics, your religion, your socio-economic status, your job, maybe even your race!
I did not learn geography as a subject as a kid. In fact, I did not learn to read a map until I was in my 20s. Embarrassing. I’d like the kids to start early seeing the link between scientific factors (like the passability of the Bering Strait) to culture, historical events and human behavior. That’s a tall order if you don’t know your Athens from your Athens. So, first, they’ll need to learn the basics.
Here a some of the resources we use for Geography in no particular order:
1. BrainPOP jr. You may remember I listed BrainPOP jr. as a resource under my Stack of Storytelling Resources post. We use BrainPOP Jr. for almost every subject. There is a new video every week on a different subject and then dozens of others divided by a subject, including geography. We use the app on our iPads, which is free, although it does have two levels of paid subscriptions as well. You can also access it via computer.
2. Beginning Geography, Grades K-2 by Evan-Moor. This is one of the first workbooks I ever bought and I have used it with both of our older kids as well as with a homeschooling group with kids up to 10. It is straighforward and, as it starts with the basics of geography, will work with any new geography student.
3. Stack the States App for the IPad. This is one of our very favorite geography games and both my 5 and 6 year olds know more about American geography than me because of it. The object of the game is simple. As you answer questions about the 50 states (including capitals, state shapes, abbreviations, bordering states, location on the map and even nicknames) correctly, you get to move it, rotate it and place it wherever you want. The goal is to carefully create a stack of states that reaches the checkered line. Also available in formats other than iPad.
4. Stack the Countries App for the IPad. Similar to Stack the States, the game focuses on basic country information such as capitals, landmarks, major cities, continents, border countries, languages, flags and more. Also available in formats other than IPad.
6. Scrambled States of America Talent Show by Laurie Keller. A follow-up book to Scrambled States of America.
8. Globe. We found a globe in the house that we are renting and I leave it on the floor. All three kids play with it all the time. We use it to daydream, to answer questions about places we read about, and to reference when we do geography in workbooks. I would not have thought to buy it but there is something to be said for having something physical to play with as we talk about it.
9. U.S. Map Floor Puzzle. This puzzle is especially fun because the pieces are in the shapes of the states. We usually use it to talk about where we have been, who we know from each state, and where we would like to go.
10. Where the Hell is Matt. You may remember Matt from the early 2000s, when he travelled the world recording himself dancing in front of landmarks and with people and then posted them on his blog at first for his family and friends to see and then for the world. His dances were joyful and fun and so millions of people started to follow his travels. He has recorded himself all over the world and mapped it. It is a really inspiring way to talk about Geography!
Do you have any resources to share? How do you learn about and teach your children about their place in the world?