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The Importance of Geography

As we travel the United States, I am more and more amazed at how little I know about my own nation's Geography.  I thought I knew it all, but there is still so much to learn.  Yet, in many districts where I have presented, I have talked with teachers and administrators who feel that Geography is unimportant in the Social Studies classroom.  WHAT? 

Geography sets the foundation for everything we learn in the Social Studies classroom.  Without learning the Geography of Africa, Asia, and Europe, how can we understand the spread of Christianity or Islam?  If we do not know the expanse of the oceans, how can we begin to understand the challenges faced by the early Explorers?  More importantly, if we do not understand basic Geography skills or the basic Geography of our own nation, how can we possibly begin our travels to check off the to-dos on our bucket list?

So, how do we teach Geography in a way that it is not mind-blowing memorization and repetitive skills practice?
  • Teach country or state locations using map puzzles.  Every Dollar Tree has 50 piece US and world maps for just $1.  Can't find them at your local store?  Make your own!  Print out the map you want your students to learn on card stock and cut it up in pieces.  Make it a competition and your students will be even more engaged!
  • Use online practice games to help your students learn the location or shapes of countries and states.  Learn U.S. and World Geography in a number of ways with Sheppard Software.  It's a FREE site with so many learning games and engaging activities!
  • Allow students to work in pairs or small groups to learn and practice geography skills.  Use graphic organizers and content guides to help students navigate for the information they need.
  • Address skills with holiday or event topics to keep students working on skills and geography tasks while their minds and bodies would rather be elsewhere.  Try my FREE Football Stadium Longitude and Latitude Activity to get them started!
  • Use activities that allow students to move around the classroom to "travel" the country or the world.  Set up Walking Tours to take students where the school bus can't!  Through visuals, sound clips, and video, students can see the world from your classroom.
  • Find streaming video cams to let students watch the world around them.  Visit zoos from around the world, experience Times Square during rush hour, or cross the Golden Game Bridge as the sun is setting on the Pacific Coast!  At Earthcam.com you can literally travel the world for FREE!
  • Guide students through controversial issues and hot topics from around the world through Response Group Activities.  Utilize websites such as National Geographic for up-to-date articles and great visual documentaries.
  • Quiz students with fun webquest scavenger hunts you can create using applications like Wix.com.  This one helps students enhance their technology skills while reviewing their Geographic knowledge.  Start with my Geography Scavenger Hunt for a quick skills review!
Need more help?  Travel over to my TpT Store for my Geography Complete Course or for Geography lessons and activities on all parts of our country and world!

Happy Teaching!

Michele