As kids begin to settle into the swing of the new school year, it can be nice to transition into an academic schedule with a little playful investigation. Since summer often involves some sort of travel (even if just to a camping or hiking spot in your home state) we thought geography would be a fun place to start. . .
. . . from a Geo focused version of our favorite board game (see instructions below). . .
. . . to a scavenger hunt that puts the tools of map making in your hands and feet. . .
. . . to soap carvings that include a lesson in geography AND history. . .
Geography at Play
- Cloth Game board from our DIY Math Game Tutorial
- Game Pieces from our DIY Math Game Tutorial
- Card Stock
- Pencils or Markers (Markers smudge less over time)
- Dice (we borrowed ours from this lovely kit)
- Maps or a globe (like this one)
Here at Imagine Childhood, we love it when toys and activities have multiple uses and that goes for our blog posts too! This lovely cloth game board has been the host to a Math Land and Bird Land... so it only seemed fitting to let geography have a go.
If you haven't made our Math Game board, pop over to that post for the directions. When you have your board and game pieces, cut sheets of card stock into 3"x2" pieces approximately. About the size of a business card. You can make larger cards if you'd like more space for drawing and writing. If you don't want to cut anything at all, you could even go for extra large cards and use 3" x 5" index cards.
Once you have your cards ready, grab your favorite map or globe, and start drawing states or countries on the cards. On the reverse side of the card, write facts about the state or country. When your card stack is complete - make as many as you like and keep adding new ones each time you play to allow the game to evolve with your little learners - play the game together.
How to Play
- Ask each participant to select a game piece.
- Draw straws or pick names out of a bag to see who goes first.
- During their turn, the player will roll the dice and pick a card. The dice will show the number of places the player will move forward. If they answer the card correctly they get 2 points
- If a player lands on a space with an arrow they automatically go up or down the board in the direction of the arrow.
- Continue playing until the first player makes it to the end of the path.
- Count up all of the cards each player won over the course of the game and find out who won that round based on the points collected!
2. Scientific Scavenger Hunt: Hop over to this post for a fun adventure that teaches kiddos how to use a compass and follow directions out in the world. Great for talking about how maps were originally made... by traveling over land and sea in person!
3. Carving Soap Maps: Learn how Inuit tribes made tactile maps to help them navigate the craggy shores in the dark of night. Bonus: these make great bath toys too!
4. Mapping the Imagination: Check out this tutorial for an open ended chalkboard map that encourages kids to dream up their own worlds and adventures, much the way some of the great explorers did before they discovered new lands.
5. Adventure in a Bottle: While you're in the land of imagination, why not go on a pirate adventure with a pirate map!
6. Geo-Go: To make the game simply click on the image above for a full size printable download. Drag the image to your desktop or print from the page directly. Each page will print templates for 4 playing cards.
To start off, pick four different states or countries (whatever interests your little geographers). Make those states or countries into the different card suits by drawing pictures of them in the center of the blank side of the cards numbering them like a regular card set up to the number 13 (we used the numbers 11,12, and 13 instead of Jack, Queen, and King). You would then have four groups of 13 cards, with cards like a "4 of Colorado" or a "6 of Texas".
Use these cards to play a standard game of go fish like you would with any other card deck.
Alternately you could also play state/country trivia by making many different cards with the state or country drawn on one side and information about it on the other. Players would then choose a card and have to guess the state or country's name from the drawing on the front of the card and get bonus points for knowing any trivia about the state.