Try These Map Activities for Some Geography With A Twist
The Shwedagon Pagoda is located in Myanmar. I know this because my four year old told me so. He also knows where all 54 countries are in Africa and can put them in perfect order.
Huh. Well, there ya go.
Last year began a passion for maps in our homeschool household. Geography is a non-stop topic at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
I’m not complaining.
To facilitate the boys’ fascination, we’ve come up with some fun ideas that I hope you’ll enjoy:
Learning to read maps has been a joy due to letterboxing. Letterboxing is a simple form of Geocaching. All you do is look up Letterbox locations for any park you are visiting and follow the directions to locate a hidden letterbox. Inside the letterbox is a small journal, stamp and stamp pad.
You carry along your own unique stamp, journal and stamp pad and when you find the letterbox, you stamp the letterbox journal with your stamp and write the date along with your name or initials. Then you stamp your own journal with the unique stamp contained inside the letterbox.
The kids LOVE letterboxing. However, to find the letterbox they had to learn to read a compass, follow directions and understand cardinal directions. Not a bad way to learn these essentials, huh?
Ready to try it? I use Atlas Quest to find letterboxes at Gainesville parks. I’ve also used Atlas Quest to find letterboxes out-of-state during vacations.
SALT DOUGH MAPS
Maps are representations of areas that are actually three dimensional. To help kids get a sense of what a map really represents, creating a simple topographic map is a lot of fun. Just mix together a little salt, flour and water!
- 1 cup salt
- 2 cups flour
- 1 cup warm water
1. In a large bowl mix salt and flour.
2. Gradually stir in water. Mix well until it a dough forms.
3. With your hands form a ball and kneed it for at least 5 minutes. The longer you kneed your dough the smoother it will be.
Store your salt dough in an air tight container for several days.
Our boys each chose a geographic region and we researched the culture and natural landscape. I traced the countries onto foam core and the boys set to work pushing the salt dough into form.
We let them dry for a day or two and then painted rivers and mountains using acrylic paint. We also printed landmarks and glued them to our board to add some cultural facts.
It was a great project that lasted over a week – a true accomplishment in a household of young boys!
STACK THE COUNTRIES
Homeschool mom Ariel G. turned us on to an iPad app called, Stack the Countries (this is an affiliate link). I didn’t think much of it and downloaded the free version. Within 24 hours my boys were begging for the full app and at a $1.99, who could argue?
Stack the Countries challenges the player with questions about country borders, capitals, landmarks and flags. It also has a special Map It game where the player is given an empty continent and asked to fill it with shapes of various countries. Here is where my four year old can completely navigate Africa like it’s his native land. I’m amazed.
The app isn’t very repetitive either. I’ve played it dozens of times and only rarely find a repeat question.
What geography ideas does your family enjoy? I’d love to hear from you in the comments section below!
Have a great week,
PS: Some of the links above are affiliate links which means at no additional cost to you I earn a small commission on those links where you click and purchase. Thank you for your support in this small way!