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Fun Ways to Teach Kids Geography

Updated on January 27, 2015

Yes - you can make learning Geography FUN!

Do your children know where India is? Or what the capital of Wisconsin is? Do they know where they could see Ayers Rock and what language is spoken in Egypt? As computers and the internet and air travel turn our world into a global village, it is more and more important that we teach kids Geography.


Whether your children are homeschooled or attend public or private schools, the chances are you wish they knew more than they do about countries and people and cultures. And they can. Here are a number of easy ways to teach Geography and make Geography fun .

Note: this lens is aimed at helping parents teach kids Geography or kids teaching themselves, but the Geography Computer Activities could be used in classrooms with computers and the Communicate! section would be a great activity to do with a class. For ideas on activities which can be used by teachers, visit Creative Ways to Teach Continents.

And if you are looking specifically to teach your kids US Geography visit States and Capitals Games.

1. Use the news!

An earthquake and tsunami in Japan, unrest in Egypt or even uncle Joe going on vacation to Barbados - all these events give you the opportunity to teach Geography. Grab a globe or an atlas and get your children to look for the places in the news. Children love a challenge, and each time they do it, they will get a little faster.

Of course, this does mean you need a good atlas or globe in your home! Or even a wall map. These items are easy to find at places like Target and Office Depot and don't need to cost a lot.

Merriam-Webster's Student Atlas, New Copyright 2016
Merriam-Webster's Student Atlas, New Copyright 2016

This is the atlas I use with the middle schoolers I teach geography too. It is a great price so I could afford to buy a number of copies.

 

2. Play Your Way Around the World

Fun Geography Board and Card Games

Most kids love games. And there are many great games available that are geography based. Your children will be having so much fun playing that they won't even realize they are learning at the same time. For games focused on US geography visit States and Capitals Games. Here are some favorite games to teach world geography:

Brainbox All Around The World
Brainbox All Around The World

This is a really clever game. Players take a card and have 10 seconds to memorize the facts on them. A roll of the dice determines which question is asked about that card ... an effortless way to learn about other countries

 
10 Days In Europe Game
10 Days In Europe Game

There are various versions of this game - you can also buy ones based in Africa, USA etc

 
Educational Insights Name That Country Game
Educational Insights Name That Country Game

Twirl a spinner - then see if you can find the country on the board's numbered map. If you land on a "postcard" space, you get bonus points if you can identify the pen pal's country from the clue on the postcard. This was another game my class enjoyed playing. The game is for 2-4 players but I let them play in pairs.

 

3. Get Gaming!

Fun Geography CD Rom games

Some of my kids favorite computer games are Geography-related - not because they are about geography, but just because they are so much fun. All the ones I am listing were / are played over and over again by my own children.

These are all really fun - your kids won't think about them as 'educational' - yet they are. My favorite is Round the World Challenge and I must admit there was a time when I played it for days on end.

Paddington World Mystery Tour is a great geography game for younger kids and Carmen Sandiego CD Rom games are perfect for older elementary and even middle school.

I Love the USA
I Love the USA

This is a good one for early elementary kids. They receive clues as to the whereabouts of a parcel - and they move over the map looking for the correct destination. On the way they collect stickers in their online sticker books to remind them of the places they've visited.

 
Paddington The World Mystery Tour
Paddington The World Mystery Tour

This is perfect for the younger set. Paddington looks for his aunt Lucy in a number of cities around the world. And of course he has adventures at well known landmarks on the way. No reading required - ages 3 to 8 will love it. It took years for my daughter to outgrow.

 
Round the World Challenge (PC CD-ROM)
Round the World Challenge (PC CD-ROM)

This is now out-of-print, so if you find one used somewhere SNAP IT UP. It is by far the most played educational computer game in our house. You travel all over the world following clues. As you get through levels, your tasks become harder. So much fun.

** We just loaded this on a new laptop and to get it to run we needed to use Compatibility Mode (right click on the game icon, select Properties, the Compatibility, then check all boxes). It worked perfectly after we did that!

 
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego - PC
Where In The World Is Carmen Sandiego - PC

This is the first Geography game my kids received and they played it into their teens. Kids learn geography as they race around the world solving clues and trying to catch Carmen and her V.I.L.E. Henchmen.

 

4. Put it Together!

Geography Jigsaw Puzzles

If your family likes jigsaw puzzles, they are a fun way to learn about different states, countries, continents and the world. And working on jigsaw puzzles are also great bonding times as a family. If you have competitive kids, you can also visit the dollar store and buy identical 100 piece map puzzles (I found a USA map puzzle) and make it a race to see who finishes first.

The Global Puzzle
The Global Puzzle

This is a superb puzzle. Each piece is in the shape of the country it represents.

 

5. Watch a movie! - Movies which teach Geography

Movies are a great way to experience Geography - you get to 'see' the places and people. There are great documentaries that are very entertaining to watch, or you could watch a movie set in a foreign country. We have a Netflix subscription which gives us access at a very low monthly rate to thousands of excellent DVDs - and of course, some of our favorites, are those related to Geography:

Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days
Michael Palin's Around the World in 80 Days

This is one of my favorite documentaries - and my kids love it too. Michael Palin isa British comedian who decides to re-trace Phineas Fogg's travels round the globe. And he decides to do it using only transportation that Fogg could have used. The result is a fantastic travel adventure that the whole family will enjoy.

 
Children Of Heaven
Children Of Heaven

This movie is suitable for all ages and tells the story of 2 children in modern day Iran. This charming story offers a glimpse into their life and culture. It revolves around a young boy who loses his shoes and must share his sister's shoes in order to go to school.

 
Sesame Street - Big Bird in China
Sesame Street - Big Bird in China

Join Big Bird on this charming adventure in China. You and your kids will learn about Chinese culture and geography - and you will also learn a few words in Mandarin. Fun!

 
Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego?
Where On Earth is Carmen Sandiego?

These are from the TV show and are great 25 minute episodes that can be viewed in class or at home. My daughter LOVES them and they are full of not only geography, but also history.

 

A two year old who knows her world geography!!

This is really cute. The dad gives her the name of a country - and she points to it on the map! Show your kids to encourage them that they can learn to do it too!

6. Online fun - Free Online Geography Games

Try out these fun and free geography activities online

7. Travel!

Learn Geography on the go!

There is no better way to learn geography than to see it for yourself. My oldest son will always remember that the Mekong river flows through Laos - because he fell into it! And my youngest knows that the Smoky Mountain National Park is in her home state - because she has visited it.

Explore your town, your state, the neighboring states.

For tips on planning a road trip visit the US Road Trip lens

And consider a trip abroad. It is often far less expensive than you would think. One summer we spent a week at a beautiful Caribbean beach in Honduras. The photo here was taken by my teenage son - yes, it really looked like that!

The week's stay only cost us $1000 for a 3-bedroom apartment and as we cooked for ourselves, food costs were hardly more than at home. If you buy air tickets well enough in advance, they can be surprisingly cheap, often cheaper than internal travel in the USA.

8. Watch the Amazing Race show - Geography on TV

This is my family's favorite TV show. If you aren't familiar with it, teams race around the world, following clues and performing challenges. This is the next best thing to visiting the places yourself. Watch the current series on TV, catch past episodes of the current season or purchase previous seasons. If you are already fans, buy the Amazing Race DVD game. It is great fun to play. And there is also a board game out.

9. Communicate!

A great way to learn about other countries is to communicate with the people living there. You could look for pen pals for your children. This will give them an in depth knowledge about a specific country. Or you could sign up with Postcrossing and receive postcards from all over the world.

All you do is sign up - and yes, it is free - and you will receive an address in another country. Send them a postcard with your special code on it and when they receive it, they enter your code into the system - and someone sends you a postcard.

Buy a wall map and let your kids use map tacks to mark the spot each postcard comes from. If you have younger children it may be wise to pay a bit more for your map and get a laminated one.And buy a memory box to keep all the postcards in.

10. Read all about it! - Books that teach Geography

There are some excellent children and teen books that are set in foreign countries. If your children enjoy reading, or if you read-aloud to them try some of these suggestions. You will probably find them in your local public library. These are picture books and suitable for ages 4-10.

14 Cows for America
14 Cows for America

This is the true story of how a Masai tribal group responded in love and sympathy after 9/11. This is a must read!

 

11. Sing Geography Songs

Some of my kids enjoyed learning through songs - some didn't so let your children listen to the songs first to see if they will actually learn from them. But if they do enjoy them, it is a very effective way for them to learn.

So, what do you think? Any other ideas of ways to make Geography fun?

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    • MerylV profile image
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      Meryl van der Merwe 3 years ago from USA

      @cleansweeping: Thanks!!

    • profile image

      cleansweeping 3 years ago

      You have a lot of neat things on this lens!

    • profile image

      ParentingAdviceGuru 3 years ago

      The toddler named Lilly is so smart! How did she learn on how to read and master geography? I assume it's about the colors and countries' names.

      http://readingmastered.com

    • profile image

      prasannasakthi 4 years ago

      My very educated mother just showed us nine planets. sad there are only nine now.The starting letter of each word in the first sentence indicates a planet

    • MerylV profile image
      Author

      Meryl van der Merwe 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: School was so boring! Which is why I try hard not to make learning boring for my kids and students.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      If only my teachers had thought of a fun way yo teach me geography. Sharing this to my Pinterest EDUCATION board.

    • profile image

      TanoCalvenoa 4 years ago

      This is a great lens. I'm a geographer and as a kid, the way I learned about geography was our 1980 encyclopedia set (huge heavy books) and a globe. I would've liked some of the stuff featured on this lens!

    • KayeSI profile image

      KayeSI 4 years ago

      I just added a link to this to my new lens about Geography Fun with Grandkids - thanks for the fun and educational ideas - especially the board games. Always my faves! :)

    • MerylV profile image
      Author

      Meryl van der Merwe 4 years ago from USA

      @anonymous: Definitely!! Geography is such a fascinating subject, but it can be made dry and boring.

    • profile image

      anonymous 4 years ago

      Get rid of making kids try to understand the "5 themes of geography"...in grade school and let them learn about places, people, how they use the land, etc. around the world.

    • OUTFOXprevention1 profile image

      OUTFOXprevention1 4 years ago

      Great ideas! I loved geography.

    • Tamara14 profile image

      Tamara Kajari 4 years ago from Zagreb, Croatia, Europe

      I remember enjoying geography during my school days. This was such a nice travel trough your lens :)

    • rawwwwwws lm profile image

      rawwwwwws lm 5 years ago

      I love geography!! WOW another lens I like! I guess my teachers in elementary and middle school loved geography and it grew on me!

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Travel is the best way for me.

    • MerylV profile image
      Author

      Meryl van der Merwe 5 years ago from USA

      @aesta1: Agreed. We just returned yesterday from 3 week trip to England, Turkey and Greece. My twelve year old learned a lot of geography without even trying.

    • LynetteBell profile image

      LynetteBell 5 years ago from Christchurch, New Zealand

      You have some great ideas. Great lens

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I recently bought a plush toy with the shape of Mexico to my daughter and she loves it. I like to point out to her the place where we are going to enjoy our holidays next month. Lately she always sleeps with the plush.

      In case you are interested, yoy can get them at www.plushkies.com

    • waldenthreenet profile image

      waldenthreenet 5 years ago

      Geography, important subject as celebrating ethnic voices ! Congrads on reaching Squidoo level 56. Going for next level. Will visit again soon. what is geography ? Thanks.

    • Mary Crowther profile image

      Mary Crowther 5 years ago from Havre de Grace

      Great ideas and great lens!! Your hard work is appreciated!

    • donaldwilson profile image

      Don Wilson 5 years ago from Yakima, WA

      As a child, i was a stamp collector. When I would acquire a stamp from another place, I always made it a point to find out where that place was. For me, I learned more about the world from collecting stamps than from any other activity.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      I love all the ideas!

      It might also be fun to have kids trace their own interests around the world. Sport fans can look up national soccer teams around the world (almost every country has one) while dance students might want to try learning a new traditional dance from each region of the world.

      Love the postcard idea as well. There is actually another organization that teams up with teachers to send postcards to kids and classrooms back in the states. It's a great way to do a postcard exchange but also a way to support local schools and tie it all back to learning about world cultures - the site is http://www.BigEarthExplorers.com

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Awesome resource for kids learning the history of geography! :)

    • profile image

      Strawberryangel 6 years ago

      LOVE the postcards and songs idea. I homeschool my children too and we learn a lot of history through music. One thing I have done is lacquer a united states map onto one of the tables in the school room. That way whenever they sit down to do a project (which is a lot) they see the map.

    • profile image

      moonlitta 6 years ago

      Interesting, useful, abundant information-Squid Angel blessed!

    • lasertek lm profile image

      lasertek lm 6 years ago

      Very informative and great looking lens. great links for geography games. Awesome job!

      If you have time maybe you can visit our lens: Homeschooling 101: Guide to Free Curriculum and Other Resources.

    • LisaDH profile image

      LisaDH 6 years ago

      Wow, what a great list! Will have to try some of these with my kids.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      This is a great resource lens for those that want or need to teach geography to kids. SquidAngel Blessed!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I was here before, just came back to sprinkle some angel dust. **Blessed by a Squid-Angel**

    • reflectionhaiku profile image

      reflectionhaiku 6 years ago

      What a great, resourceful lens to help educators and parents like me to get fun ideas and books to teach our children about geography. Thumbs up and thanks for sharing.

    • jp1978 profile image

      jp1978 6 years ago

      Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego... brings back memories. We played this on our first computer, simple 16-color graphics, but we loved the game!

    • eclecticeducati1 profile image

      eclecticeducati1 6 years ago

      Great ideas! Blessed by a Squid Angel and lensrolled to my Homeschool Geography lens.

    • caketech profile image

      caketech 6 years ago

      My kids loved the "Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego" game! This is great lens and full of great resources!

    • amkatee profile image

      amkatee 6 years ago

      We plan on a trip to the zoo soon. I will make a copy of the continents for my 5 year old and let her put stickers on them when we find an animal from that continent!

    • ajgodinho profile image

      Anthony Godinho 6 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Great ideas to teach kids geography and nicely incorporated Amazon modules to promote relevant products...well done!

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Get more 8 comments in this lens and unlock the "Chatterbox" award.

      I can't even spell Geography.....great lens.

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Geography was one of my fav subjects at school and I was lucky - I had a good, fun teacher. There's some great tips and ideas on this lens for a great topic.

    • aesta1 profile image

      Mary Norton 7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      I wish I had all the resources when I was learning geography. We only had an old map. Now the names of many countries have changed, it is hard to cope up. These ideas can engage the kids to keep learning.

    • Mihaela Vrban profile image

      Mihaela Vrban 7 years ago from Croatia

      Wonderful ideas! :) Kids should learn geography in no time!

    • JoyfulPamela2 profile image

      JoyfulPamela2 7 years ago from Pennsylvania, USA

      What great ideas your have for teaching! I'm going to try a few with my kids. Thanks!

    • pkmcruk profile image

      pkmcr 7 years ago from Cheshire UK

      Some really great ideas here and I look forward to seeing more great lenses from you. You have been blessed by a Squid Angel :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      Loved your post! I agree! Games are a great way to teach geography. Also, we are addicted to Google Earth. It absolutely amazes me what you are able to do with that techie tool. Last week, we retraced the maiden voyage of Columbus. Such fun! Anyway, great job!

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      Thank you for joining the Unit Studies Group. Your lens is now featured under Map Skills, as sub-group of Social Studies.

    • evelynsaenz1 profile image

      Evelyn Saenz 7 years ago from Royalton

      What a great lens! Well organized with lots of helpful resources.

      Please consider joining the Unit Studies: Fun, Creative Hands-On Leaning Group.

      Lensrolled to: Map Skills.

    • jimmielanley profile image

      Jimmie Lanley 7 years ago from Memphis, TN, USA

      We love Scrambled States for US geography. Thanks for linking to my salt dough maps lens. Messy learning is best! :-)

    • profile image

      anonymous 7 years ago

      I enjoyed your lens, a great idea. I will try this on my grandkids.

    • tandemonimom lm profile image

      tandemonimom lm 7 years ago

      I have a couple of these games and puzzles - I agree, a wonderful way to teach geography!