Kids have a natural inborn inquisitiveness for how the earth is made and the different cultures they see around them. Somewhere between that and the first day of formal Kindergarten, they can lose their curiosity if we direct them straight to a textbook. Today, I’m sharing 5 ways to raise a natural geography-lover because these things will fuel kids’ natural love for the world around them.
One myth I need to slay before I go on is that geography is just about labeling/coloring maps.Although maps are a huge part of geography, unless your child is fixated on coloring at the moment, merely coloring a map will not infuse a love for learning.
Look at my tips here 11 AWESOME Ways to Learn Geography (Other Than Labeling a Map) and then look at these 5 ways to raise a natural geography-lover.
TAKE GEOGRAPHY OUTSIDE
Geography is a subject that is best taught using the outdoors or taking it outside as you can.
There are things that you just can’t explain in a geography textbook.
How a pinecone feels, the texture of a bird’s nest carefully crafted with just a beak, and the smell of the flowers from a Southern Magnolia tree that grew in our backyard couldn’t be appreciated from a book.
Even if you don’t, like me, have a naturally formed mountain in your backyard, being outside with nature helps to pique your child’s eagerness to understand geography features.
A trip to the park to study the trees and why certain ones grow in your area helps a child to understand the geography of where he lives.
When we lived on the Texas Gulf Coast, we saw many tall reeds in our neighborhood.
Understanding how plant life was affected by our nearness to the ocean helped my sons understand the part that geography plays in plant life.
Geography and science are interlinked. Many times it’s impossible to separate the two subjects and you shouldn’t.
Let geography flow into science and vice versa.
Here is a fun activity to connect the two concepts. Grab this form for a Geoscavenge – A Rock and Mineral Hunt: Day 6 Hands-on Learning.
DO GEOGRAPHY, NOT JUST READ ABOUT IT
Nothing kills curiosity more than just reading about something and not being able to experience it.
It reminds me of what my husband told me that his family would do sometimes. They would drive to a vacation spot that they waited half the year to see.
After arriving, they would only look at the mountains or whatever it is from their car, turn around, and start driving home.
I can’t even imagine the disappointment of not being able to get out and explore!
Geography should be both an academic study and a hands-on investigation.
Too, hands-on geography shouldn’t be abandoned when your child gets to the older grades.
Hands-on geography is not just for the younger grades, but we tend to skip hands-on learning in the older grades just when our children are demonstrating self-teaching and independence.
Contrary to popular myths, hands-on learning in middle and high school can be rigorous because a young teen is now learning for intrinsic value.
What does this means? It means that learning about geography becomes a natural part of his everyday life. It goes from labeling maps to making learning concrete.
Hands-on learning is paramount at each level of a child’s development and geography is no exception.
Look at Homemade Compass. Simple Geography Projects Equals Huge Wow Factors for an easy activity for older kids.INCLUDE OTHERS WHEN DOING GEOGRAPHY
Although I wasn’t always eager to meet with other families to study geography because I assumed it would be stressful, my boys beamed when we did.
Not only did they love meeting with other kids, but they loved learning from another teacher. I learned several things about the way my sons learned while they interacted with another homeschool teacher mom.
Homeschool moms who teach well are gifts. Homeschool moms don’t have to teach some really deep topic, but they have a way of bringing learning alive even using the tiniest fact or activity.
For example, while learning about the people and geography of Japan, one homeschool mom and her son taught my boys how to make an origami frog that hopped.
My sons were thrilled and played with that frog for hours while reading and using the atlas about Japan.
Learning geography with others doesn’t have to be complicated. Just do it with one other family and keep it simple and stress free.
(something about blowing up volcanoes with others just makes learning about geography fun too)
COOK TO LEARN ABOUT GEOGRAPHY
There is nothing more natural than having fun cooking and learning a real-life skill in the process.
Kids love to eat normally and have an adventurous spirit when it comes to trying out new foods or snacks.
In the beginning, I would cook a meal from a country, but learned that my boys had just as much fun even if it was just a snack.
Whether you have time for a full meal on the menu or time enough to prepare just a bite for a snack, your kids will remember this part of geography.
As they associate food and culture from different parts of the world, their appreciation for geography grows.
Looked at a few things we have made when studying about certain areas.
- Make pan au chocolat when studying about France.
- Make celtic cakes when studying ancient civilizations.
- Make baklava when studying about Ancient Greece.
- Make victory soup when studying about the countries of World War II.
- Make Cherokee pan bread when studying the states in the Southeastern United States.
- Make soups from South America.
- Make chili when doing a state study on Texas.
- Make negrinho when doing a study about Brazil.
LEARN GEOGRAPHY THROUGH ART
Another way to incorporate natural geography fun is to do art. Too, an unexpected benefit is that art can one of those subjects that is hard to get in.
When you study about a country while do art or a craft, learning sticks.
For example,when we used Geography Through Art for part of our learning it helped my boys remember about not only basic geography of the earth but about countries. Look at this idea Hands-On Geography Activity: Make a Pangaea Puzzle which is in the book.
And look at Hands-On Geography: Australia Awesome and Deadly Animal Art which is fun.
Hands-on Homeschool Geography
Teaching geography naturally doesn’t mean you have to avoid curriculum. It does mean curriculum should follow our approach not the other way around.
For years, I have used North Star Geography because it fits the way I feel geography should be done in the older grades which is hands-on.
When I lived overseas, I grabbed the digital version because I wanted to take it with me everywhere and because the boys could keep it on their device. I printed it as we needed it.
But North Star Geography has many hands-on ideas for older kids along with a helpful teacher’s guide. We have made our own atlas using their curriculum. I know you’ll love it.
It’s so easy to fall into the trap of just teaching geography without using hands-on ideas but it also kills a child’s natural love for the world around him.
You’ll love these other tips!
- Hands-on Geography: Longitude/Latitude Mapmaking Activity
- Edible Rock Cycle Fudge and Hands-on Rock Activities
- 35 Hands-on Geography Activities to do in 15 Minutes or Less
Hugs and love ya,