Making Geography Fun

I didn’t realize how passionate I was about making Geography fun until I started seeing the really boring ways it can be taught! The goal isn’t to memorize an unrelated list of places, or labeling random countries.

Something I’ve noticed, and since have confirmed with classes I’ve taken by educating experts, is it’s really hard to learn something that isn’t connected to something else you already know. This year our geography will be built on our history and from our historical fiction readings. Since we are going all Around the Ancient World it will give us lots of opportunities to look at different continents.

Salt Dough Maps

At the boy’s co-op one term they made a salt dough map. We added that to our study of Europe, but not with much intentionality. We did one salt-dough map of Italy. As I looked back on what mattered most in our homeschool I realized that week really stood out. I also realized after visiting England all of a sudden the order of the cities matters so much more to me than it did before.

What I’m going to try to do this year is fold our geography in with things that are already interesting us. Each month will be spending intense time on one continent. We build on this by making salt dough maps of each location in our readings. This will allow us to make more personal connections to each place we are studying.

How To Create Them

I’m marking these as “lessons” rather than “day” or “week”. This year we did these in a week with each step on a different day. I kind of thought it was a bit too much too fast. This year we are doing these with a step per week. That allows us to soak up more from our story and make notes on our maps.

Lesson 1 – Make a salt dough map area of study. Be sure to pinch up mountains and carve in rivers. Compare modern maps to maps of that region in ancient times. We are using Story of the World and there are some great maps in there.

Lesson 2 – Paint your salt dough map topographically. Compare it to maps of that region so you can add the relief effects of the region. Are the mountains in this region snow-covered or desert? Is this area lush and green or dry?

Lesson 3 – Mark man-made sites you’ve learned about as well as important cities. Mark the path your hero took during the story you read, or mark several stories in different colors to see if they overlap!

Lesson 4 – Look at the same map with the modern countries outlined. Learn to copy the names of the countries into the right place! (repeat for as long as you are studying that area)

Other ways for making geography fun

A few other ways for making geography fun is while you are studying a region have a day when you eat food from that part of the world. You can look at the way they dress there. It’s fun to discuss what about the region makes those kinds of foods and clothing logical. Here are some more ideas

  • Listen to music from that region
  • Watch a movie set there
  • Look up holidays
  • Learn some words in the language spoken there

Of course, it would be lovely if we were all globe trotters who could visit and make a personal connection with every place we learn about, but sometimes we just have to get creative.

If you want to study with us here’s the full curriculum we will use!

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