The world wide web is ripe with fun geography tips for little learners. Salt dough maps, play dough earth models, LEGO brick landmarks. . . you name it. Where do we go to make geography fun for our high schoolers when they no longer want edible maps and coloring pages? How can we add interest and enjoyment to their lessons when they are working on their lessons independently?
For our older, critically thinking, technology-savvy, geography adventurers, we need more than hands-on crafts to capture their attention. Though they may still enjoy a good tactile project or fun activity, these kids who are about to be set loose in the world need help cultivating a love for studying and learning about this great big world we live in. Here are four ways we can make geography more fun and engaging for them.
1. Plan a Geocaching Day Trip
Put your kids in charge of planning a geocaching day trip. You can set a specified amount of travel time away from home and a budget for the day and then let them plan the rest. Use geocaching.com to find hidden treasures in your travel area, and use roadtrippers.com to find other places of interest nearby as well.
Use this opportunity to travel to areas or towns you’ve never been. When you go, put your teen in charge of navigation, both with the GPS app and an old fashioned, print map or atlas. Geocache treasures are hidden all over the place. You could explore nature, historical districts, cultural restaurants, and more.
2. Subscribe to a Geography-Relevant Magazine
At first glance, subscribing to a magazine might seem incredibly old school. However, there are a large number of mail magazines and online magazines that will open your eyes to the world at large. National Geographic is probably the most famous, but it isn’t the only magazine for geography, travel, current affairs, or global awareness.
A good magazine can help broaden your awareness of other cultures, economies, and events going on in the world. Magazine articles can be used as starting points for essays or research papers as well. If a subscription is too costly, check your library for inexpensive back issues, discarded and donated by patrons.
3. Expand Your Geography Horizons Through Reading
My favorite thing about a good book is the feeling that I am right in the middle of a story. Biographies, true accounts, and historical fiction are a bookworm’s favorite way to learn about people and places. As your student studies a certain region of the world, a good book or two can offer a peek into the culture and traditions of the people that live there, past or present.
4. Check out Google Earth
This is so much more than the Google Maps you’re probably familiar with. Google Earth is a fairly advanced program that allows you to visit places all over the world, see street views, 3-D models, tour famous landmarks, and so much more. With Google Earth, you can see historical maps for many places, add overlays, and view other geographic data.
You might also subscribe to the Google Earth blog to learn about interesting things around the world, such as this floating-rotating island in Argentina. If you like, you can browse Google Earth based lesson plans for further exploration. A quick google search for things to do with google earth will help you find more fun ways to use this hip, modern geography tool.
Let Your Child Choose the Geography
The most important thing for keeping the study of geography fun and engaging for a high school student is letting him or her take the lead in choosing how to supplement their textbook studies. Your child might not love looking at the earth on a computer as much as they enjoy getting out in it. Or perhaps they prefer the tactile experience of holding a magazine in their hand, looking at the vibrant pictures, and reading about the people who live there. The key is to let your teen take ownership.