Friday, January 30, 2015

A Real World Lesson for Your Kids - Making Geography Personal

I remember Geography being confusing, abstract, and even boring. Where were all those places? And why did I care?  It was distant and uninteresting.

I didn't want our daughter to be so detached from the greater world and have been trying to think up a way to give geography some substance.  Most of our schooling methods involved a hands-on experience approach...literally. Hands on chickens, Hands on power tools, Hands on messy, sticky, sudsy, dirty, cold, or hot. And when that isn't possible we try to make it relatable.  "Imagine living in the 17th century....we all just sailed to the New World and now we have to survive a winter on our own...."   It allows our daughter to "experience" abstract subjects like history in a personal way.  Science, Social Studies, even math are taught this way in our home.  But, geography had only been introduced on a small scale. She knew the 4 or 5 states that house our friends and relatives, but beyond that it was a jumble.

I came across this post on for a printable jigsaw puzzle of the US.  It was free and came in a few different options. Free Downloads Here.



The colorful one is especially fun. And there were lots of creative suggestions in the post like question tags and little flag markers. What a neat idea for a child whose Mother or Father travelled a lot. Keeping track of them with a little airplane pin would really bring the map to life.

But, I wasn't sure how to use it for our family in a personal way...until I had my light bulb moment.  Our little girl doesn't have parents that travel but, she does have parents that ship merchandise all over the country!! 

I printed the B&W version of the map to start with a clean slate. It printed on 4 sheets of 8.5" x 11" paper. I cut them out and mounted them on a foam board (moving Hawaii and Alaska in to relative geographical accuracy). 


Then we told our daughter that she is in charge of logistics for the Rehoboth Farm shipping department.  Every time an order comes in, she grabs her pen and makes a colorful dot in the receiving state.  She is quickly becoming familiar with the location of some of the states - and is even learning the abbreviations (by default), which I still get tangled up in - especially the "M" states!

Not only is she learning where the states are, but she is gaining an understanding of size, distance, weather patterns, and lifestyles as we discuss the characteristics of each city or state we ship to. She is eager to see which state fills up with colored dots first (and so are we!) and has enjoyed watching the map transform as more color is added.  It is a great learning tool.  So glad we stumbled on this idea.
Hope you find a way to use it in your home!

No comments:

Post a Comment