Geography is one of my favorite subjects to explore. It is quite simply the study of people, places, and environments on Earth, and is truly fascinating to learn about.
As parents and educators, I feel we have an obligation to help our children better understand the values and traditions of families near and far. This helps kids develop empathy, realize that not everyone lives the way they do, and allows children to see that we can all learn from each other, embracing our similarities and differences, while celebrating our uniqueness.
I’ve always been consumed by wanderlust, and consider myself a wannabe traveler. If I’m ever in the financial position to do so, I would like nothing more than to travel the world with my family, learning about different cultures.
For now, I focus on expanding my family’s knowledge of the world from our hometown, and encourage my kids to gather as much information about geography as possible, using simple activities such as these.
Cooking – Researching traditional meals from a specific country, shopping for the ingredients, and cooking together as a family, provides a fantastic opportunity to learn more about how other people live and eat.
Board games – Board games are a fun exploration tool when learning about the world. Amazon has tons of geography board games to choose from.
Books – Children’s books about local and world geography give kids an in-depth look into what life is like in various parts of the world, whether that means a neighboring state, or another continent.
Puzzles – From a young age, kids can explore their own country, as well as others, using geography puzzles to learn important landmarks and more.
Maps – Children adore maps. I’ve always used them for decoration in my home, and my kids have several of their own, that they use often for pretend play as well as homeschool activities. Encouraging kids to find specific locations on a map, such as where a family member lives, or a place they would like to visit, is great for practicing those important map skills.
Geocaching – It doesn’t get much more hands-on than this. Learn exactly what geocaching entails, and how your family can participate in this fun, interactive, worldwide treasure hunt here.
Videos – Netflix and Amazon Prime offer a plethora of geography documentaries and shows that my family enjoys. We also rent DVDs from our local library that help us to learn even more. Some of our favorites include Dual Survival, Planet Earth, How The States Got Their Shapes, Cosmos, Modern Marvels, and pretty much anything from National Geographic.
Travel – Of course, the best way to learn about the world, is to get out there and experience it for yourself. If your income is conducive, and your family has the desire to travel, go for it. There is certainly no better way to get kids (and adults) excited about geography, than to explore it firsthand.
How do you teach your kids about geography in an engaging way? Feel free to share your ideas in the comments below.