How to teach geography when your kids don’t like it
Teaching geography. It causes either excitement or dread, and rarely anything between. It is either a subject your children find fun and delightful or one they see as dry and monotonous (you probably fall into one side or the other as well). So how do you teach geography if your child would rather eat pencil shavings than look at a map? Here are a few ideas to help.
Utilize Your Child’s Interests
When there is a subject my oldest dislikes, I have to approach it like a unit study and figure out how I can make it “fit” into a theme he enjoys. For example, if your child loves fantasy, rather than using a real map to teach map reading skills try employing a map from a book like (affiliate link) Lord of the Rings, Narnia, or even The Once Upon a Time Map Book to incorporate a sneaky but fun skill lesson. Have your child follow the characters’ journey, point out where certain events happen, and locate places using direction.
If your child loves:
- the outdoors, let them create their own map to favorite locations. Mapping creek beds, nature trails, bird nest locations, the best spot to catch a lizard, etc. will help them to develop skills while having fun.
- history, use maps of battles, maps of civilizations, maps overlaying other maps showing who controlled the same area over time.
- cooking, map out where the ingredients for a recipe come from. A great introduction to this type of geography lesson is (affiliate link) How to Make an Apple Pie and See the World.
- mathematics, begin with lessons about how maps are made, how the land is surveyed and measured, how explorers used math to map their courses. Then evolve into the maps, where mathematical theories were discovered, what civilizations used math to the most advantage, etc.
Try New Methods
Try something different. We have lots of fun with Geography Teas. Others use maps for many projects, for making puzzles, for tracing, for notebooking, etc. If your geography class is running a bit flat and your child is not enjoying it, then there is no harm in trying a new approach.
Turn Geography into a Game
You can make it a bit competitive, which inspires many a sibling to try and beat the others. Have a game of seeing who can trace out Marco Polo’s route the fastest, who can point to Paul’s missionary journey destinations the fastest, who can trace a map from memory with the most accuracy and detail, etc. Make it fun, make it fast, and make it a bit of a competition to inspire some interest.
Eat the Frog
If nothing else works, take Mark Twain’s advice and eat the frog first. Make geography your first morning task. Try to keep it light and fun, and just get it finished. Then move on to the next thing.