In today’s U.S. elementary schools, children are taught a curriculum of reading, math, and science. While some mentions of geography and social studies are included, it is generally not a focus for teachers. This is where some at-home activities can help your kids learn about the world all around them, including its physical properties as well as its human culture. We’ve put together a list of some fun ways to teach geography to your younger kids, preschool to elementary school aged.
Puzzles are such a fun activity for many as they force you to sit and be in the moment. If you choose a puzzle for your child that is a map (world or country) or one that is of a real landscape, it is a wonderful way to learn about places without even trying. Choose a peg puzzle for your preschooler or a 500 piece puzzle with your elementary aged kid. Puzzles allow children to study a picture of the world and is a great opportunity to have a conversation about places and people. Putting a puzzle together, makes children truly study a map, and ultimately memorize its details.
We all love music. Songs are fun and catchy and most children enjoy music. Play a variety of fun songs to your kids which teach about continents, countries, states, cities and more. Because songs tend to stick in your head, kids memorize the information more quickly.
One well-known song for kids is “Fifty, Nifty United States”.
You can search for more examples of fun songs about geography.
Maps and Globes
Maps and globes are great tools to use to play games with your kids. You can take turns spinning the globe and placing your finger on it. When the globe, stops, try to identify where your finger lands. Talk about the continent, country, ocean, or fact about that region, etc. Printable maps are also fun to color, use as placemats, or use in games as well.
Another entertaining way to incorporate mapping in a fun way is to have your child draw their own maps. Whether it’s a map of their home, neighborhood or school, or even an imaginary place, it’s fun to do. Make sure to instruct on including all sorts of things in their maps, buildings, and landscape, and also include a legend to identify the parts of the map.
A child-friendly atlas can be a great way to incorporate teaching about our world. The Lift-the-flap Picture Atlas a great one for preschoolers and even older kids like it. They can lift flaps to make discoveries about places all over the world.
Books can teach a lot about the world. Choose books from different cultures to learn about different places. Also, if a book mentions a place, try to take the opportunity to point out the place on a map. When your child is ready, have them identify on a map.
Additionally, there are all kinds of fun kids books available such as flag sticker books, state son, and capital books and more. Cook books from various regions is also a fun way to incorporate culture in your daily meals.
While not a book, we’d thought we would mention mobile apps as they can be a great tactical tool to read and learn about geography. Explore apps including the Kids Map App and Google Maps.
Travel and Exploration
Try to take your kid on a trip or use ordinary life experiences to teach about the world. Whether it’s a drive around town, a visit to a museum, or a planned vacation, all of these can broaden your child’s geographical knowledge. As much as you can, talk to your child about the town you live in. Get to know and share history, landmarks, roads, and places. Make sure if you are around your own town or traveling somewhere you talk to your child about what you see and what they see and observe.