If you find yourself worrying about how to teach your students about geography, keep it simple. To teach my young children to memorize the countries of the world, I use three simple tools.
- Wall map (See my post about choosing a wall map)
- Globe (See my post about selecting the right globe for your family)
- Geography Songs for Everyone (watch free here or buy MP3s here).
Of course, I add a little extra here and there, copy work, read alouds, map coloring and drawing, atlas reading, ect…, but all this is extra. 80% of the time I just use these three tools.
There is geography all around us. In this series of posts, “No-Fuss, No-Prep Geography”, I offer simple ways to explore the corners of the earth without leaving your block….or spending a ton of money. Geography is so fun and there are natural lessons everywhere that draw us to a globe or a map. No workbook required.
Memorizing the World Map
So, when my children were in preschool, I put a world map on the wall. In Kindergarten, I added a globe. The following year, I created a complete library of geography songs (watch free here or buy MP3s here) for a local private school and since then, my children listen to them in the car. Whenever a country or continent came into conversation, was mentioned in a book, or whatever, we looked at the map, spun the globe, or sang a song. Now, my children are in early elementary school and, viola! My first grader knows all the countries and my younger children know the continents and can find our city on a globe.
Falling into Curriculum Overload
Now, to my surprise, I began hearing my friends lament geography. They didn’t learn it well themselves and in their minds, it is difficult, if not impossible. In time I began getting curriculum catalogs in the mail and seeing the overload of geography curriculum, subscription kits, and activity guides. Then, I became stressed out too because I didn’t have any of these “must-have” items.
I became convinced that my geography instruction was too simple. I thought I needed more structure, more workbooks, more maps. So, I manically bought some of those “must have” geography resources.
Luckily, I came out of my I’m-not-doing-enough fog without too much damage to the pocket book. I am happy to report that my purchases don’t take up too much space sitting in my closet unused. I am also happy to report that I continue to teach geography with a simple map, globe, and CD because it just plain works.