Exploring Geography in the Classroom
Can your elementary students identify all five of the Great Lakes or locate the country of Ukraine on a world map? As a result of the increased focus on test scores and STEM education, geography is one of the subjects that teachers don't get to spend as much time teaching. This means that many children and adults in the United States have limited knowledge about the rest of the world.
One benefit of teaching children about geography is that it increases their global awareness, which is a 21st century skill that children are expected to have and is often a part of teachers' evaluations in many states. Teaching children about geography also gives you the opportunity to teach them about diversity and other cultures while also giving them the knowledge they need to analyze world events and make sound decisions as adults.
Here are a few ways you can increase your students' geographic knowledge:
- Make sure your classroom has a globe and/or U.S. and world maps for children to view. This makes it easier to incorporate geography into lesson plans and classroom assignments. It also gives children the opportunity to look at the maps and learn the locations of different states, countries, and continents on their own.
- Choose a state, country, or continent to study each week/month. Have a weekly or monthly geography theme, so children can gain geographic knowledge throughout the school year. Share fun facts, watch short videos, and do fun activities related to the theme.
- Include books about different countries in your classroom library. If you don't have much time to teach children about geography, including books about geography in your classroom library is a great way to encourage independent learning.
- Play a map labeling game with your students or teach them fun geography facts. Hand out blank maps to students and see who can identify the most states/countries in five minutes. You can also give students a handout with fun geography facts and the outline of the state, country, or continent for students to keep in a geography binder.
- Divide students into small groups and have each group research and present information about a state, country, or continent. The presentation aspect could be a PowerPoint presentation, group art project, geography game, etc.
Be sure to browse our Social Studies section for a variety of tools and resources you can use to teach geography and global awareness in your classroom.