A thorough knowledge of geography is essential for children to understand their place in the world. It also helps children learn how climate, history, political and cultural systems operate and interact. But simply memorizing place names is not very exciting and kids need fun ways to learn geography with games, map activities, cultural experiences and interactive projects.
When geography is fun, then kids will retain the information and be able to grow into thoughtful, globally aware citizens who give back to their community and the planet!
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Geography Board Games
Geography board games are one of the most enjoyable ways to spend time with your children while also making sure the facts enter their cute little heads. There are a ton of geography games, but make sure to find one that is fun rather than a flash-card like drill of facts. Here are a two of our favorites.
Ticket to Ride
We absolutely adore Ticket to Ride. Although not designed specifically to teach geography, it still does so in the most fun way possible: through train travel! The original game focuses on North America but other versions are available.
Scrambled States of America
Based on the popular children's picture book of the same name, this game is a riot. Game play reinforces knowledge of state locations, state capitals and even teaches states' mottos. My kids love it so much it was featured as a game of the month. Find it here: Amazon
Our family has long adored the KiwiCo. family of monthly kits. I've written many times about the wonderful one-on-one time spent with each of my boys putting together their STEM-themed projects and doing the extension activities. They have been expanding their line up and I'm loving this Atlas Crate to teach about geography.
Find it here: Atlas Crate
Each month you learn about a different country, put together a high-quality project, read about the culture and work on completing your atlas book.
Eat Food to Learn Geography
You may be thinking, "how is eating going to teach geography to my kids?" Well, read on!
Snacks and Food
Every month our family gets a box of global treats from Universal Yums. I'm not exaggerating when I say my kids jump up and down when it arrives on our doorstep every month. Each month features treats from a different country as well as a activity booklet that teaches a bit about the country from which they came. Snacking on treats is a super fun way to learn about geography!
Find it here: Universal Yums
Read about Cultures around the World
You didn't think I'd let an opportunity to recommend some books pass by, did you? In addition to these stellar choices, you and your children will learn geography and culture as they enjoy armchair traveling with these 50 books to take a trip around the world.
This Is How We Do It
by Matt Lamothe
The book follows seven children from different countries: Italy, Japan, Uganda, Russia, India, Peru and Iran. Each child describes their home, school, family, food and daily life. This is a great starting point for conversations about the differences and similarities between life in different countries, but also how children in the same country don't all live the same way. At the end, photographs reveal the actual families depicted in in the book. I love the large size of the book, and how the illustrations invite a lengthly perusal.
This is How I Do It
by Matt Lamothe
This is a companion activity book to This Is How We Do It. Kids create their own memory book with stickers, map, and other interactive elements that records their daily life. They also learn about kids around the world, reading about 59 other families.
Everything & Everywhere: A Fact-Filled Adventure for Curious Globe-Trotters
by Marc Martin
I adore this oversized book and its pages densely packed with watercolor details of animals, objects, towns and people all over the world. Facts and figures fill the gaps and kids will love scouring the pages to learn about everything under the sun and deep in the sea.
One of my favorite way to instill a love of geography and give kids a daily reminder of their responsibility as global citizens is to hang up maps around the home. Don't limit yourself to one and be sure to to put them at eye level to invite perusal. Also, be sure to try out these simple map activities for kids.
We have this colorful wall map from eeboo, which I love because it also has symbols for area resources. It's perfect for elementary aged kids. (Also, I'm having memories of cuteness with this photo of one of my sons checking out the map before I hung it up.) Older kids will appreciate a more "grown-up" map like this classic one.
Finally, don't forget the joyful learning experience of a geography puzzle. It's easy to to remember place names and locations when you spend time trying to figure out how to put a puzzle together! It truly is a fun way to learn geography.
Some puzzles we've done countless times that I recommend:
- Melissa and Doug map floor puzzles (for younger kids)
- Ravensburger map and atlas puzzles (for older kids)
More ways my kids have enjoyed self-directed learning about geography: