for Teachers and Parents...
Your Children at Home with Geography
certain kinds of information that youngsters need in order to function
adequately as competent members of society. One of these areas is geography.
But where to begin? Start early with a basic investment of at least four
maps that can be hung in your child's room: a map of the world, the USA,
your own state, and one of your local region. Check with your local library
if you have any difficulty locating the maps you need.
facts about the local area should be taught. Your child should
know adjoining or nearby cities and that they are "to the east
of" or "north of" his city of residence. With the massive
highway connections in this country, youngsters can "fix" some
locations by their proximity to major thoroughfares.
the news. Virtually a day doesn't pass that some event of consequence
isn't reported from some place on the globe. These countries and cities
can be marked with little flags.
family locations. With many families separated because of jobs
and other factors, a map can be used to show San Francisco where
Aunt Susan lives, or Tallahassee where Uncle Jim lives, or Washington,
DC, where Grandma lives, or Boston where cousin Ed works. An effort
should be made to give the child a sense of key spots which can serve
as "anchors"for example, "Connecticut? That's
the state next to Massachusetts where cousin Ed works."
a map. Next to the bathroom, the kitchen is the most commonly
used room in the house. Don't overlook placing a large map on one
wall. As news of consequence about problems in specific parts of the
worldturmoil, earthquakes, floods, monsoons, famine, oilarise,
their locations can be flagged for everyone's benefit.
Atlas. Every home should have an Atlas of fairly recent dateone that,
like a dictionary, isn't stored on a shelf collecting dust but is
used for frequent reference. An atlas makes a noteworthy birthday
or holiday gift. In addition to the locations of countries and cities,
a tremendous amount of other important information is givenproducts,
resources, populations, languages spoken, and so on.
problems with maps. If your child really gets turned on to maps,
introduce the concept of "scale." Every map has a scale
that shows how many inches equals a mile. The smaller the map, the
more miles will be squeezed into an inch. Get out a ruler when figuring
distance and ask your child to determine the approximate number
of miles from one place to another. This activity can take on added
meaning if the family is planning a trip, and the number of miles
involved is very important.
good use of your local area map. What are spots of interest to
your childplaces he knows or likes to go, such as the football
field, the city hall, the city park, the zoo, the sports arena, the
civic center? Mark these with "flags" to relate them to
"Flag #1" (your home).
early in the day. If time permits (and often it doesn't in busy
households in the morning as families prepare for school and work)
the morning news shows on the major television stations show a considerable
number of news, political and weather drawings and maps. Just from
repetition alone, a certain amount of geographical information will
"stick"aside from the other valuable and timely information.
are puzzles of maps of the United States and the world that add
yet another dimension to becoming familiar with our country and world.
These range from very simple to complex and should be selected based
on the child's current range of knowledgetoo easy would be insulting;
too difficult would be frustrating. If a puzzle of a map at the proper
level cannot be found, it is possible to make one at home by mounting
a map on a stiff piece of cardboard and cutting it into puzzle pieces.
(This is something a brother or sister might make to give the child
as an inexpensive birthday or holiday gift.) In some commercial maps
of the United States and the world, the pieces are formed by the actual
shape of the state or country. This is an excellent way for the child
to learn the size and shape of his own state and country and how they
relate in size to other states and other countries.
Just Memorize. Just memorizing states and their capitals doesn't
teach geography. Such information has to be linked into other factsfacts
that have special meaning for the child. For example, knowing and
locating the home cities of the major football and baseball teams
or places of general interest, such as Philadelphia (home of the Liberty
Bell), Boston (the Boston Tea Party), New York (Statue of Liberty),
Hollywood (where motion pictures are made), et cetera.
Trips. Before taking a family outing or trip, lay out the route
on a map. "Let's take U.S. Highway 101 south from San Francisco
to San Jose. Then we'll take Highway 17 to Santa Cruz and be at the
beach." Let your child be the "map keeper" with the
responsibility of watching road signs as the trip is made.
the State Capitol. One thing all youngsters should do, either
as a government class project or with the family, is to visit their
own state capitol and arrange to visit legislative sessionsand
to contact in advance their local state representatives. This is one
sure way that they will learn and remember the name of their state
capitol and its location relative to other cities. But a trip to the
state capitol should involve a bit of advance study. Along the way,
whether it is by car, train, or busor even airplanecertain
key spots (rivers, historical locations, cities) will have to be passed.
Knowing these in advance will "lock in" additional geographical
a family outing, keep a record of mileage and time so that your
child understands the distance involved. If you are taking a trip
that might involve more than an hour, record the starting and ending
the Chamber of Commerce. A great source of geographical information
that is bright, colorful, and well designed is any local Chamber of
Commerce. A phone call or letter requesting printed materials will
unfailingly bring a response. Another source is your local travel
agency whose representatives will be glad to share their information
brochures. Almost every major airline has a fine magazine tucked into
the pocket in front of the seat. These publications are a treasure
of geographical information, including maps that show air routes.
If a family member or a friend is scheduled to make an air trip, ask
that person to bring back one of these magzines.
clubs are another
valuable resource. If you or a family member or a friend is a member,
check out their ample supply of maps, both local and otherwise. Such
clubs will also provide "strip maps" with routes plotted
which are models of clarity and will interest and fascinate the child.
them understand locations. While knowledge of the locations of
various places around the globe is almost second nature to most adults
it can occasionally be perplexing and confusing to children. Stimulating
talk about the news and why, for example, an early frost in Brazil
will raise the price of coffee, or how difficulties in the Middle
East can affect the price of oil, or why a strike in the automobile
industry in Michigan may affect the cost of cars will, little by little,
help youngsters get a better grasp and sense of geography.
Your Children at Home with Reading
Helping Your Children at Home with Arithmetic
Your Children at Home with Spelling
Your Children at Home with Handwriting
Helping Your Children at Home with Vocabulary
Return to Resources