Geography is fun and fascinating – and relevant.
Teaching Geography doesn’t have to be just in the classroom (or at the kitchen table). Here are ten suggested activities to engage your children in while at home, on the road or while on vacation.
1. On a spinning globe, have your child (eyes closed!) gently place their pointer finger on the surface. When the orb stops, look at the location under their finger. Find where you live and estimate the distance between the two places. How would you travel to get there? By boat, train, bus, car, airplane, donkey? What could you do when you got there? What kind of food would you eat? Don’t know? Look it up in an encyclopedia or in the CIA’s World Fact Book!
2. Choose an obscure geographical feature or location that’s in the news or one which relates to a missions project your family – or your church – is involved in. Ask the question: Where do you think _______ is? Let your family guess at the dinner table. Ask for votes when all guesses are in. Reveal the answer and explain the local situation. (For example, Where do you think the Nuba Mountains are? Answer: They lie on the borderlands of Sudan and the newly formed South Sudan. Samaritan’s Purse has more information about the region and current challenges.)
3. What’s a (name a geographical feature, ie. a lagoon)? Have your child guess what it is and where it might be found on the globe. Have them draw pictures of their guesses, then look it up in a dictionary/atlas.
4. Make a mountain out of a sinkhole. Create a sinkhole out of Playdough, a bowl and a paper plate, then turn it over and make a mountain. Discuss the properties of both.
5. Point and drive. Pull out a map of your local area – or if you have a vacation day or week, a map of your county or state. The youngest child closes their eyes and points while another child – or adult – moves the map in a swirly motion. Drive to wherever the finger points. Take pictures on journey We have found some of the most unusual and memorable places this way!
6. Attend a missionary banquet with your children. Show them a map before you go and role play proper mealtime manners. Discuss how those manners may differ in the country the missionaries are representing. For example, eating with fingers, double-dipping, sitting on the floor.
7. Track the next storm – thunder, tropical, blizzard, or dust – online and on a local map.
8. Play tic-tac-toe on a map with longitudinal and latitudinal lines. Players must name a geographical feature on the map in their chosen square before placing their marker. Use dice or game pieces from another game, such as Risk, for the X’s and O’s.
10. Make your own geographical board game. Using a large piece of poster board, make a grid of latitudinal and longitudinal lines. (Discuss map projections, such as Mercator vs. Cylindrical, etc.) Create land forms and areas of water, either real – using a globe or atlas as your guide – or imaginary. Then create a route for your pieces to follow, along with pitfalls (sinkholes, waterfalls, vast deserts) and speed-ups (rivers going the right direction if you have a canoe, etc). Then create cards with instructions or use dice to move your pieces. The first one “home” wins!