Yes - you can make learning Geography FUN!
Do your children know where India is? Or what the capital of Wisconsin is? Do they know where they could see Ayers Rock and what language is spoken in Egypt? As computers and the internet and air travel turn our world into a global village, it is more and more important that we teach kids Geography.
Whether your children are homeschooled or attend public or private schools, the chances are you wish they knew more than they do about countries and people and cultures. And they can. Here are a number of easy ways to teach Geography and make Geography fun .
Note: this lens is aimed at helping parents teach kids Geography or kids teaching themselves, but the Geography Computer Activities could be used in classrooms with computers and the Communicate! section would be a great activity to do with a class. For ideas on activities which can be used by teachers, visit Creative Ways to Teach Continents.
And if you are looking specifically to teach your kids US Geography visit States and Capitals Games.
1. Use the news!
An earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unrest in Egypt or even uncle Joe going on vacation to Barbados - all these events give you the opportunity to teach Geography. Grab a globe or an atlas and get your children to look for the places in the news. Children love a challenge, and each time they do it, they will get a little faster.
Of course, this does mean you need a good atlas or globe in your home! Or even a wall map. These items are easy to find at places like Target and Office Depot and don't need to cost a lot.
2. Play Your Way Around the World
Fun Geography Board and Card Games
Most kids love games. And there are many great games available that are geography based. Your children will be having so much fun playing that they won't even realize they are learning at the same time. For games focused on US geography visit States and Capitals Games. Here are some favorite games to teach world geography:
3. Get Gaming!
Fun Geography CD Rom games
Some of my kids favorite computer games are Geography-related - not because they are about geography, but just because they are so much fun. All the ones I am listing were / are played over and over again by my own children.
These are all really fun - your kids won't think about them as 'educational' - yet they are. My favorite is Round the World Challenge and I must admit there was a time when I played it for days on end.
Paddington World Mystery Tour is a great geography game for younger kids and Carmen Sandiego CD Rom games are perfect for older elementary and even middle school.
4. Put it Together!
Geography Jigsaw Puzzles
If your family likes jigsaw puzzles, they are a fun way to learn about different states, countries, continents and the world. And working on jigsaw puzzles are also great bonding times as a family. If you have competitive kids, you can also visit the dollar store and buy identical 100 piece map puzzles (I found a USA map puzzle) and make it a race to see who finishes first.
5. Watch a movie! - Movies which teach Geography
Movies are a great way to experience Geography - you get to 'see' the places and people. There are great documentaries that are very entertaining to watch, or you could watch a movie set in a foreign country. We have a Netflix subscription which gives us access at a very low monthly rate to thousands of excellent DVDs - and of course, some of our favorites, are those related to Geography:
A two year old who knows her world geography!!
This is really cute. The dad gives her the name of a country - and she points to it on the map! Show your kids to encourage them that they can learn to do it too!
6. Online fun - Free Online Geography Games
Try out these fun and free geography activities online
- Kids Geo: Geography Games
This site has games that teach kids the position of continents, countries and capital cities. See which family member can 'place' them in the quickest time. And make sure to also try out the very last game listed which teaches longitude and latitude
- Name the country
This one is SO challenging! See how many countries you can name in a set time period. Great for competition between siblings - and parents!
- Geography Map Games
Scroll down the page and find the links under the heading 'Geography Map Games'. Choose which game you want to play and then see how close you can get to finding the place on the map. If you are close enough - you move to the next level. Otherwise yo
- Where in the World is Mrs Waffenschmidt?
This is not an online game as such but a clue to where Mrs Waffenschmidt is - and a link to the correct answer. This would work well for a parent / teacher to print out and use as a game
- Map Games
There are lots of games on this site that cover every part of the world. Games include crosswords, jigsaw puzzles and even a GeoTournament.
Learn Geography on the go!
There is no better way to learn geography than to see it for yourself. My oldest son will always remember that the Mekong river flows through Laos - because he fell into it! And my youngest knows that the Smoky Mountain National Park is in her home state - because she has visited it.
Explore your town, your state, the neighboring states.
For tips on planning a road trip visit the US Road Trip lens
And consider a trip abroad. It is often far less expensive than you would think. One summer we spent a week at a beautiful Caribbean beach in Honduras. The photo here was taken by my teenage son - yes, it really looked like that!
The week's stay only cost us $1000 for a 3-bedroom apartment and as we cooked for ourselves, food costs were hardly more than at home. If you buy air tickets well enough in advance, they can be surprisingly cheap, often cheaper than internal travel in the USA.
8. Watch the Amazing Race show - Geography on TV
This is my family's favorite TV show. If you aren't familiar with it, teams race around the world, following clues and performing challenges. This is the next best thing to visiting the places yourself. Watch the current series on TV, catch past episodes of the current season or purchase previous seasons. If you are already fans, buy the Amazing Race DVD game. It is great fun to play. And there is also a board game out.
A great way to learn about other countries is to communicate with the people living there. You could look for pen pals for your children. This will give them an in depth knowledge about a specific country. Or you could sign up with Postcrossing and receive postcards from all over the world.
All you do is sign up - and yes, it is free - and you will receive an address in another country. Send them a postcard with your special code on it and when they receive it, they enter your code into the system - and someone sends you a postcard.
Buy a wall map and let your kids use map tacks to mark the spot each postcard comes from. If you have younger children it may be wise to pay a bit more for your map and get a laminated one.And buy a memory box to keep all the postcards in.
10. Read all about it! - Books that teach Geography
There are some excellent children and teen books that are set in foreign countries. If your children enjoy reading, or if you read-aloud to them try some of these suggestions. You will probably find them in your local public library. These are picture books and suitable for ages 4-10.
11. Sing Geography Songs
Some of my kids enjoyed learning through songs - some didn't so let your children listen to the songs first to see if they will actually learn from them. But if they do enjoy them, it is a very effective way for them to learn.
So, what do you think? Any other ideas of ways to make Geography fun?
Meryl van der Merwe (author) from USA on March 08, 2014:
cleansweeping on February 10, 2014:
You have a lot of neat things on this lens!
ParentingAdviceGuru on February 05, 2014:
The toddler named Lilly is so smart! How did she learn on how to read and master geography? I assume it's about the colors and countries' names.
prasannasakthi on July 30, 2013:
My very educated mother just showed us nine planets. sad there are only nine now.The starting letter of each word in the first sentence indicates a planet
Meryl van der Merwe (author) from USA on June 30, 2013:
@anonymous: School was so boring! Which is why I try hard not to make learning boring for my kids and students.
anonymous on June 30, 2013:
If only my teachers had thought of a fun way yo teach me geography. Sharing this to my Pinterest EDUCATION board.
TanoCalvenoa on March 24, 2013:
This is a great lens. I'm a geographer and as a kid, the way I learned about geography was our 1980 encyclopedia set (huge heavy books) and a globe. I would've liked some of the stuff featured on this lens!
KayeSI on February 01, 2013:
I just added a link to this to my new lens about Geography Fun with Grandkids - thanks for the fun and educational ideas - especially the board games. Always my faves! :)
Meryl van der Merwe (author) from USA on November 02, 2012:
@anonymous: Definitely!! Geography is such a fascinating subject, but it can be made dry and boring.
anonymous on November 02, 2012:
Get rid of making kids try to understand the "5 themes of geography"...in grade school and let them learn about places, people, how they use the land, etc. around the world.
OUTFOXprevention1 on September 05, 2012:
Great ideas! I loved geography.
Tamara14 on September 04, 2012:
I remember enjoying geography during my school days. This was such a nice travel trough your lens :)
rawwwwwws lm on July 06, 2012:
I love geography!! WOW another lens I like! I guess my teachers in elementary and middle school loved geography and it grew on me!
Meryl van der Merwe (author) from USA on July 04, 2012:
@aesta1: Agreed. We just returned yesterday from 3 week trip to England, Turkey and Greece. My twelve year old learned a lot of geography without even trying.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on July 04, 2012:
Travel is the best way for me.
LynetteBell from Christchurch, New Zealand on June 15, 2012:
You have some great ideas. Great lens
anonymous on February 07, 2012:
I recently bought a plush toy with the shape of Mexico to my daughter and she loves it. I like to point out to her the place where we are going to enjoy our holidays next month. Lately she always sleeps with the plush.
In case you are interested, yoy can get them at www.plushkies.com
waldenthreenet on January 20, 2012:
Geography, important subject as celebrating ethnic voices ! Congrads on reaching Squidoo level 56. Going for next level. Will visit again soon. what is geography ? Thanks.
Mary Crowther from Havre de Grace on November 30, 2011:
Great ideas and great lens!! Your hard work is appreciated!
Don Wilson from Yakima, WA on November 10, 2011:
As a child, i was a stamp collector. When I would acquire a stamp from another place, I always made it a point to find out where that place was. For me, I learned more about the world from collecting stamps than from any other activity.
anonymous on November 07, 2011:
I love all the ideas!
It might also be fun to have kids trace their own interests around the world. Sport fans can look up national soccer teams around the world (almost every country has one) while dance students might want to try learning a new traditional dance from each region of the world.
Love the postcard idea as well. There is actually another organization that teams up with teachers to send postcards to kids and classrooms back in the states. It's a great way to do a postcard exchange but also a way to support local schools and tie it all back to learning about world cultures - the site is http://www.BigEarthExplorers.com
anonymous on July 22, 2011:
Awesome resource for kids learning the history of geography! :)
Strawberryangel on July 18, 2011:
LOVE the postcards and songs idea. I homeschool my children too and we learn a lot of history through music. One thing I have done is lacquer a united states map onto one of the tables in the school room. That way whenever they sit down to do a project (which is a lot) they see the map.
moonlitta on July 05, 2011:
Interesting, useful, abundant information-Squid Angel blessed!
lasertek lm on May 11, 2011:
Very informative and great looking lens. great links for geography games. Awesome job!
If you have time maybe you can visit our lens: Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.
LisaDH on February 20, 2011:
Wow, what a great list! Will have to try some of these with my kids.
anonymous on January 14, 2011:
This is a great resource lens for those that want or need to teach geography to kids. SquidAngel Blessed!
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on December 13, 2010:
I was here before, just came back to sprinkle some angel dust. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**
HubLens Admin on November 21, 2010:
What a great, resourceful lens to help educators and parents like me to get fun ideas and books to teach our children about geography. Thumbs up and thanks for sharing.
jp1978 on October 07, 2010:
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego... brings back memories. We played this on our first computer, simple 16-color graphics, but we loved the game!
eclecticeducati1 on September 22, 2010:
Great ideas! Blessed by a Squid Angel and lensrolled to my Homeschool Geography lens.
caketech on September 21, 2010:
My kids loved the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" game! This is great lens and full of great resources!
amkatee on September 18, 2010:
We plan on a trip to the zoo soon. I will make a copy of the continents for my 5 year old and let her put stickers on them when we find an animal from that continent!
Anthony Godinho from Ontario, Canada on September 14, 2010:
Great ideas to teach kids geography and nicely incorporated Amazon modules to promote relevant products...well done!
anonymous on September 10, 2010:
Get more 8 comments in this lens and unlock the "Chatterbox" award.
I can't even spell Geography.....great lens.
anonymous on April 24, 2010:
Geography was one of my fav subjects at school and I was lucky - I had a good, fun teacher. There's some great tips and ideas on this lens for a great topic.
Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on March 27, 2010:
I wish I had all the resources when I was learning geography. We only had an old map. Now the names of many countries have changed, it is hard to cope up. These ideas can engage the kids to keep learning.
Mihaela Vrban from Croatia on November 26, 2009:
Wonderful ideas! :) Kids should learn geography in no time!
JoyfulPamela2 from Pennsylvania, USA on November 22, 2009:
What great ideas your have for teaching! I'm going to try a few with my kids. Thanks!
pkmcr from Cheshire UK on November 02, 2009:
Some really great ideas here and I look forward to seeing more great lenses from you. You have been blessed by a Squid Angel :-)
anonymous on October 20, 2009:
Loved your post! I agree! Games are a great way to teach geography. Also, we are addicted to Google Earth. It absolutely amazes me what you are able to do with that techie tool. Last week, we retraced the maiden voyage of Columbus. Such fun! Anyway, great job!
Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on September 13, 2009:
Thank you for joining the Unit Studies Group. Your lens is now featured under Map Skills, as sub-group of Social Studies.
Evelyn Saenz from Royalton on September 12, 2009:
What a great lens! Well organized with lots of helpful resources.
Please consider joining the Unit Studies: Fun, Creative Hands-On Leaning Group.
Lensrolled to: Map Skills.
Jimmie Quick from Memphis, TN, USA on September 10, 2009:
We love Scrambled States for US geography. Thanks for linking to my salt dough maps lens. Messy learning is best! :-)
anonymous on August 29, 2009:
I enjoyed your lens, a great idea. I will try this on my grandkids.
tandemonimom lm on August 22, 2009:
I have a couple of these games and puzzles - I agree, a wonderful way to teach geography!