Start With a Map

One_4 This month, we’re asking you to start with a map: Download a world wall map, give it to a child, and tell them why it’s important—and fun—to learn about our world. Let them play with the map, ask questions about it, explore it in their own way.

What other ideas do you have to get kids and teens interested in maps—and the interconnected, fascinating world they represent? Share your thoughts here!

11 thoughts on “Start With a Map

  1. Also for preschoolers, download coloring pages of countries, flags, landmarks, animals (and talk about where they live), try an international cookbook for kids with some simple recipes that they can help with. And songs from other countries just to introduce the idea of people speaking differently. This age group is good for landforms too–they’re intrigued by volcanos, geysers, deserts, etc. My son enjoys listening to stories on CD–find some set in countries around the world.

  2. Nana,
    We actually started when my son was four. He started with a nice wooden puzzle of a world map and taking about oceans and continents, finding where people we know live or are from,etc. on the sheppardsoftware site many activities can be done be pre-readers. I also recommend the board game Great States junior. Also very visual for prereaders. my son is now six and we just started with Highlights’ Top Secret Adventures. We have finished the first kit sent and I am very impressed with how they make geography fun and accessible to young children. There are some things out there but you have to search. I don’t think many people even think to teach geography at home let alone to preschoolers! Check your library or on line for books. There is a series of books, one per country, for maybe 20 or so countries–picture books for young children. And check learning/educational stores for posters. hope this helps!

  3. I love this idea about children learning geography. But am I the only person that wants to teach a 3 year old preschooler? Have you considered this group of little people. Could not some of program be directed towards children under 5 for parents and grandparents to start acquainting our family about this world we live in?
    Sincerely, Nana Thomas

  4. I teach Spanish and am appalled at what kids don’t know and don’t seem to care to know! My son is six and I have gone out of my way to start early and make it a fun game. His room is decorated with maps–even a world map shower curtain! He knows all the states and most capitals and plays on-line games at and board games as well. He can identify some landmarks as well. He knows more than most of my high schoolers.
    I believe that anything considered rote memory has been demonized and that would include memorization of geographical facts and is porbably why most teachers don’t teach it. How sad! I teach in a well respected district and no where in the curriculum do they have kids learn the states and capitals anymore!!!
    I am always looking for ways to integrate maps into the curriculum. It’s a challenge because there isn’t much out there–I have to create it!

  5. The advent of exciting web and comm based technologies has opened a huge realm of interesting ways that we can “connect kids to the world”. I run global expeditions [] that contain a large adventure driven education element, serving to inspire children into action and further investigation of our marvelous planet. It is hugely rewarding and lots of fun. All the best, Kendon. Oh and registered schools recieve FREE wall size Nat Geo world maps 😉

  6. I try to make foods from different parts of the world and then show my boys on the map where the food originated from. Now they want to travel all over the world!

  7. hello , i am a chinese boy . although my english is poor , but i want to say something about the beautiful world .
    i hope in this world would not appear war any more, because all of the human being that in the world have equality in this big family 。
    the same enemy that we faced was illness.
    i want to find friends that in the other country . if you have interest with me please contact me :

  8. Helping to home-school my 10 year old granddaughter, Victoria, is a great experience. Sharing my love of geography is fun. To bring countries to life, she is interviewing family and friends, etc. on foreign places they have been. Victoria asks questions from the chart we made and she records information like language, school children activities, weather,currency, clothing,poverty, famous people, places, happenings, etc. People love talking about their vacations, business trips,war experiences, family visits. Then we find that place on the map and discuss it and the surrounding area, also employing a topographical map.Geography alive and fun! It also improves her communication skills, and note-taking ability.

  9. I have always been fascinated by maps. My mother started me on stamp collecting when I was 7 (1949) and was very interested in stamps she received from France and neighbors from Italy. When my daughter was 7 (1976) I introduced her to collecting and we spent an entire Saturday marking all the countries we had stamps for. Also, as a child, my friends and I would go to the town library and we wewre allowed to borrow National Geographic maps and we would make believe they were treasure maps.
    Very soon I will again introduce my grand children to the hobby allong with a world map. They already have a globe and have been learning about Australia but are also playing a game with the map of the United States.
    Today, I regularly speak with clients from Mexico, Canada , England, Italy, Germany and Scandanavia. I do not not think I would be as successful with these clients without my geographic knowledge.

  10. I was appalled from the results of giving a geography quiz to my Spanish students last week. Even with the aid of a word bank (country names and capitals) some students could not recognize the Caribbean (worked the map upside down!) and many placed South American countries on a map of Europe. I also provided a mnemonic sentence: “Getting Even Has Never Created a Positive Climate”–tracing Central American countries from Guatemala to Colombia in S.A. Still, poor results. As a result, my Ss will be working on paired projects for countries where Spanish is the official language.
    At an ISSA conference a couple of years ago, one presenter suggested that Spanish teachers be prepared to teach geography with cultures and not to expect that students had previous exposure. As the world gets smaller, (and South America becomes more socialist?) students will need to be informed. I have previously included current world issues, including “Aid to Latin America” and “Indigenous Peoples.” Depending on the age group/ maturity level, these topics bring additional interest to the geography.

  11. Since I am originally from Germany, my husband is american, our children have always been interested in my home country. We often talk about how people live in germany and other countries. Whatever they are interested in, there is tons of information at the library and on the internet. Both children ( 10 and 7 )also grow up speaking both languages, which I believe makes it easier later on, to learn a third or fourth language.

Leave a Reply