Have you been looking for fun and unique ways to incorporate geography for kids into your learning?
(PSSST! You don’t need an expensive curriculum!)
OK, before you’re all like *yawn* memorizing states and capitals is soooooooo boring:
- How dare you, and
- We can make geography super fun!
- (I promise!)
You can make geography more interesting just by offering up some different ways to learn about it.
(Yes, even preschool geography!)
And, it has little to do with just learning about maps and locations in a textbook.
So, toss those textbooks (TOSS THEM, HONEY) and READ ON.
But, before we get to all that, I want to go over a few things that may blow your mind. . .
What Is Geography?
What is the definition of geography for kids?
OK, what is geography in simple words?
Well, geography isn’t just about maps (although, those are LOTS of fun!).
The National Geographic Society defines geography as, “The study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it.”
“The relationships between people…”
I think that’s one that we forget when learning geography, right?
It’s one of the best (and most fun!) things about geography for kids!
But, did you know that there are many aspects of geography beyond just maps?
What Are the Five Themes of Geography?
So, what other aspects of geography are important?
The National Council for Geographic Education defined something called The 5 Themes of Geography.
Because geography can be difficult to present, the themes “were developed by the National Council for Geographic Education to provide an organizing framework for the presentation of geographic materials.”
It sounds like some ::eyeroll:: boring blah-blah-blah, but I assure you it most certainly is not. It actually opened my eyes to OTHER areas of geography that we needed to study!
Check it out . . .
The Five Themes of Geography are:
- Location: Position on the Earth’s Surface (Absolute/Relative).
- Place: Physical and Human Characteristics.
- Human/Environment Interactions: Shaping the Landscape.
- Movement: Humans Interacting on the Earth.
- Regions: How They Form and Change.
Using the themes can help you better organize your learning about geography.
(Because, it’s also about human interaction and not just forms of land! How fun, right? No one ever told me this in school . . . sigh.)
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Let’s get on to how to incorporate geography for kids into your studies, shall we?
(Numbers 2 and 6 are my absolute FAVORITES on this list, so don’t miss those!)
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44 Ideas on How to Teach Geography for Kids in a Fun Way
Geography for Kids #1: Learn Geography With Maps
I’ve yet to meet a kid that can’t have fun with maps during geography (or, an adult that doesn’t have fun with them, for that matter).
One of the first things you need to do in your geography lessons is to grab some maps.
You can use them while listening to the Around the World stories (SEE #2 BELOW) or studying specific countries for kids.
Before you roll your eyes, let me tell you this (just in case you don’t know):
WORLD MAPS NOW DON’T LOOK ANYTHING LIKE WHAT YOU REMEMBER AS A KID!
And, this is a good thing! You’ll freak out over how awesome maps are now.
[KEEP SCROLLING TO SEE!]
First: Get a world map!
This Scratch-Off World Map is SO different from a regular ole world map that it will make your kids SQUEAL.
This ain’t your elementary school teacher’s geographical map, y’all…
This is a step up (maybe even a few steps up) from the old-school style wah-wah-wah boring world maps.
This map is so unique and fun because it’s a “scratch-off” world map.
(Uh-huh. FOR REAL.)
Each time you learn about a new place in the world, you can scratch off that area . . . until you have the whole world revealed and you are full up on geographical knowledge!
SUPER FUN, right?
(PS: This is also a fun map for roadschooling if you’re going to travel and homeschool!)
If scratch off isn’t your thing (OKAAAAAY), this pin board world map is also really cool because you use the push pins to mark where you’ve studied!
If you have younger kids, you may want to start with something like this Kids Interactive Talking World Map.
Kids can push the map and hear over 1000 facts, quizzes, and games, and interesting geography facts about the world.
Also, Get a Globe for Geography Learning!
A globe is also a must for your geography learning (and, just a great learning tool, in general).
This world geography learning globe has a BlueTooth pen that gives audible learning content about continents, cultures, countries, games and more.
(Also, there are games that up to four people can play!)
Globes are another learning tool that spans across all ages and stages.
You’ll find a use for a globe throughout their entire childhood.
Geography Activities (Maps)
If you’re looking for geography activities for maps, check out:
Making and Reading Geographic Maps
Lessons, Activities, and Map-Making Resources (K-12)
Geography for Kids #2: Bring World Stories to Life
One of the best ways kids can learn geography (or anything) is to bring stories to life!
The Around the World Stories provide an awesome way to bring geography to life for kids.
Around the World Stories are 30-minute audio stories about different locations and cultures around the world.
You get a new story each week and also a parent’s guide, discussion topics, recipes, activities, and printables.
This is a fun and unique way to hear about experiences from around the world!
If you have morning tea time or afternoon circle rug time, these are GREAT audio lesson for those times!
And, they’re cool for all ages and stages.
(READ: It’s something the entire family can do and enjoy together!)
Geography for Kids #3: Learn About Human Geography
Human interaction is an important part of geography that shapes landscapes.
(Remember, The Five Themes of Geography from earlier? Yeah, number three on that list.)
It’s one facet that we don’t often consider when talking about geography, but people have great impact on geography and land (and it’s just really interesting to learn more about different cultures!).
To learn more about human geography, start here:
Learn more about human geography on KidsGeo
What is Human Geography? [VIDEO]
Then, move on to watching a video on human geography:
Children’s Books About Human Geography
Lastly, read some books about human geography.
(We have several of the Children Just Like Me books and they’re still some of our favorite go-to books when learning about different cultures and countries!)
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Geography for Kids #4: Play Geography Map Games and Other Geography Games
Again, break out of your geography “looking at maps only” bubble and play some geography map games and geography board games.
There are MANY geography games on the market now that allow kids to learn about states and countries and not even realize they’re learning.
(BONUS. I KNOW.)
Board games are great learning tools!
Check out our THREE PART series for game schooling ideas:
Geography Games for Kids:
This is BY FAR one of my daughter’s favorite games.
You compete against each other to find the state cards in your hand to best match the ask card. (For example, the state capital has X,Y, or Z in the name.)
On the state cards it lists the state, state capital, state nickname, and even the shape of the state, so you naturally start to remember the information the more you play.
The game also comes with a map “cheatsheet” so you can check where the states are before you play your card.
NOTE: WE SWITCHED UP THE RULES A LITTLE AND MADE IT MORE FUN (IN OUR OPINION). IF YOU WANT TO KNOW HOW WE PLAY, LET ME KNOW IN THE COMMENTS AND I’LL LEAVE THE INSTRUCTIONS.
(I can actually see younger kids being able to play because you don’t actually have to know the states, you just need to be able to find the info like recognizing letters, colors, etc., so don’t be afraid to try it with your littles who know their letters and colors!)
“Unique travel game where players circle the globe while testing their knowledge of world cultures. Entertaining questions on people and places, food and drink, world treasures, greetings and gestures, or customs and traditions. Fun way to explore our world while challenging your CQ (Cultural Intelligence).”
MindWare Brainbox All Around The World
“Clever new memory recall game challenges players to memorize as many details as they can in just 10 short seconds.-Turn the timer over, concentrate on the card and try to memorize as many details of the picture as you can.-Roll the die to determine which question will be asked and quiz each other on what they remember.-Four wonderful themes will keep young minds engaged in this fast-paced game of concentration and detail.”
Don’t discount puzzles in your fun geography learning!
This geography puzzle set comes with:
- World GeoPuzzle
- USA/Canada GeoPuzzle
- Europe GeoPuzzle
- Asia GeoPuzzle
- Africa GeoPuzzle
- Latin America GeoPuzzle
All of the pieces are made in the USA from recycled materials.
A new twist on a favorite family game–match the country shapes to get a bingo!
Five different world geography learning games in one!
Each card shows a country on one side and capitals on the other, along with population and land area facts. These are mixed and matched for a variety of different geography card games.
This is a fun way to spice up your states learning. Each card has a different state flag on the front and on the back has facts about the state. Kids can play memory games, flag recognition games, and more!
It also comes with a map of the United States.
Where In The World? Game
From the manufacturer: “This game remains the most comprehensive world geography games that families and classrooms love. The game has been updated to include the latest facts about every country in the world including capitals, major imports and exports, languages and religions. With 6 games in one, it’s possible for players of all abilities to play together providing challenge and a world of fun for everyone.”
IF YOU HAVE A FAVORITE GEOGRAPHY GAME THAT IS NOT LISTED HERE, WILL YOU LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS (BELOW) SO WE CAN ADD IT TO OUR LIST? THANK YOU!
Geography for Kids #5: Do Geography Crafts
Crafts are another fun way to add some spice to your geography learning.
And, don’t make the mistake of thinking that crafts are just for the little ones.
There are FANTASTIC topographical map crafts and more that are fun for ALL ages!
Here are some fun geography project ideas:
Geography for Kids #6: Take Virtual Field Trips to Learn More About Geography
Wouldn’t it be great to visit all the places in the world that you study?
Unfortunately, budget constraints (and other reasons) prevent most of us from traveling where we want, when we want.
Did you ever think about taking your child on a virtual field trip?
When you can’t travel to the areas you’ve studied, how about take your kids on a “virtual field trip”!
A virtual field trip is when you visit that location online instead of physically visiting it.
The Google Arts and Culture App has a TON of virtual field trip opportunities.
You can virtually visit different areas of the world, as well as museums and landmarks.
In some cases, you even have a 360-degree view where you can move around the area!
Here are some other ideas:
13 Interactive Virtual Field Trips to About the World
Scott’s last hut at Cape Evans: virtual tour – Antarctica (*this was one of our FAVORITE virtual field trips so far!)
Geography for Kids #7: Learn a Foreign Language of the Area You’re Studying
While learning about world geography, it’s fun if you can add some of the language to that area to your geography lesson plans.
I know. I know.
Learning a foreign language is intimidating, especially if you don’t already speak the language.
How the heck do you teach your kids a language you don’t know?
Our contributor Lisa Yankey writes great posts to get you started:
Foreign Language for Homeschool