I love teaching my kids. Luckily for my kids, they have public school, they get a break from me! I LOVE learning with them. Apparently, out of all the subjects that we dive into, incorporating geography into our daily lives is by far the easiest!
Geography is connected with any subject you pick: learning about composers? We spend half an hour (or more!) travelling our geography maps for his country of birth, or his lifetime voyages, for things that we know about that country and that fascinate us about it… Learning about planets and cosmos? Well, Mr. Einstein, we can dig into your origins and travels, we can find out about the cultures that you encountered! Putting electric circuits together? Mr. Thomas Edison, be our guide not only in the world of atoms, electrons, and conductors, but also the state where you worked and what we know about it! Are we talking about the presidents? Are we getting weekly allowance? Are we reading a fun book? Trust me, there s some geography hiding somewhere along its lines!
Now, with Olympic Games coming to an end, we were learning about Russia. Little informative videos about it were really helpful too. Other things we’ve tried:
The map on the wall is terrific, but it means we have to walk to it, and stay there. We still do: the 3D maps give a unique perspective of place. Atlas “walks” with us wherever we go. My 5 year old gets to find the continent, my 8 year old – the country. We look at its capital, whatever pictures of animals, landmarks we can see. The last time my kids were fascinated with resources and were eager to see what valuables could be found in there… whatever works! Their interest is my best reward.
As much as we love our maps, I was surprised to see that finding the country on a globe is a lot more difficult! Yet, apparently, it is a lot more fun too: obviously, if the kids will stop fighting for a second over who gets to find it first… Our favorite is the GeoSafari Electronic Talking Globe, that comes with another attention grabber: buttons! The globe offers something other maps don’t: visual perspective and… buttons! “Music” button seems the most popular in our home. I love it too, and my toddler starts clapping as soon as the globe comes out.
We find the country. With our fingers, we pretend to travel from our home-country to the one we study: by plane, by water, by land? We discuss time difference: the flashlight becomes the sun, and as it is “shining” on our own country, we see how dark/light is the other one. My kids find it absolutely bizarre, that while the sun is shining through our window, somewhere out there is the middle of the night. Flashlight-sun really helps grasp this.
We collect little objects associated with different countries/continents. We have different boxes, full of little toy-animals, little characters from fairy tales, printouts, postcards, flashcards, our own crafts. Every time we learn about a particular country, my kids rush towards those boxes: nothing beats the excitement of fishing another little something out of the box, reciting how and where we’ve got it: family vacation? friend’s trip? dollar store? Ebay? When it really did come from something as impersonal as Ebay, usually some “magical friend” dumps it over for my kids: a fairy hides it under their pillow, a gnome leaves a souvenir on a bathmat… but that’s a whole other story. Meanwhile, rampaging through those little treasures is like opening birthday presents all over again.
Did I mention that we LOVE playing games? We schedule family game time in our calendars, we count good educational game as our study time… and geography games are the easiest to find: Great States US Map Board Game, Where in the World Geography Game, Flag Frenzy – Learn Countries of the World Flags Card Game are just some of our all time family favorites.
Craft or Independent Work
We finish up with some independent exploration: either a craft that they can do, a puzzle they can put together, a set of cards with landmarks to sort over various continents, they can pick anything they enjoy the most. Besides the obvious good choices like USA Map 24 pc Preschool Floor Puzzle and World Map 60 pc Children Puzzle that we use a lot, we also found such intriguing things like Princesses of the World 48 pc Giant Floor Puzzle, GeoCards USA – Geography Card Game and my kid’s absolute favorite: sand molds that look like famous landmarks – Opera House Mold Sand Building Toy, Parthenon Mold Sand Building Toy for the younger ones and Nanoblock Building Set – Taj Mahal and Leaning Tower of Pisa 216 pc 3D Puzzle for my older one.
I honestly not sure how much of it they’ll remember into the later years… but it is not the facts that matter in the end, but the joy of learning about it, the sparkle of curiosity that can eventually fire up something really big and exciting.