I can look at a map for a long time and be entranced by it. How are the roads connected? What is the topography like? Noticing how the river, railroad, and highway all run together until the grade becomes too hard for the train and it follows a new path. Watching the place names change as the settlers who named them changed across a region. Maps are marvelous, but I’ve come to know that my fascination with maps makes me a “nerd.” Most people see a map and want to sigh or hide.
Map skills and geography don’t need to be a chore or something we dread. By using songs, puzzles, rhymes, interesting facts, and more we can bring out the fun in geography and see the world as an enchanting ball of mystery. I have three ways, out of many, that may help you with this task.
Using Puzzles to Practice
Puzzles have been shown to improve memory and increase IQ. They help with spatial reasoning and allow for teamwork and the exchange of ideas. With large or small puzzles, students can discuss, debate, reason, and collaborate on the best placement of pieces. Whether you have a 1000 piece jigsaw puzzle of the United States or these puzzles on the flags, capitals, and countries of each continent, student’s brains will get a workout throughout the process of completing them.
Map Skills Practice with Countries and Capitals
Another way we can practice our map skills and become more familiar with geography is to work with maps and learn our countries, capitals, major bodies of water, and other pieces of terrain. Below is some map practice work in Google Slides™, Google Forms™, and in BOOM Learning with Boom Learning Cards. You’ll see how each venue offers the practice on North America in a slightly different form, even though all the questions are the same.
Slides and Forms do not offer immediate feedback, although Forms does self-grade to free up the teacher for more time spent elsewhere. Boom Cards offers both immediate feedback and self-grading, and both Forms and Boom offer reports. With more and more digital offerings being created, perhaps you can find the region you’ve been wanting your students to learn.
Interesting Facts & Map Work Offer Geography Enrichment Activities
Lastly, have you heard of GeoJunior Or GeoGenius yet? These fun geography enrichment activities allow your students to explore a country in a new and fascinating way. With GeoJunior, students are given a “Guess the Country” clue sheet to figure out the country of study. Then comes a general location sheet to help identify where the country is located in the world. Next, political and physical maps are presented with items to color and label. “Fun Facts” follow with 5 interesting and weird facts about the country to help cement it into memory. Lastly, everything is assembled together into a bookmark that students color where clues, facts, and more are captured to help them recall all they have learned. To top that off, once a quarter, a GeoGenius with even more great activities on a continent is released. This continues for an entire school year so you have something new to teach every other week all year long. Best of all, it is free, just for signing up for the GeoJunior Geography Club.
No, geography doesn’t need to be a dreaded subject any longer. Perhaps one of these methods will help you and your students enjoy geography more. I know I’ll be there with my map in hand, ready to check out what interesting facts I can learn. Do you love geography? Let me know in the comments.
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