It is important to me that my kids understand that there is a huge world to explore outside of our little house in the woods. Both my husband and I love to travel and I want to instill this love in my children. We started "afterschooling" geography with our kids a couple of summers ago. Learning about other cultures gives us unlimited opportunities to try new foods, learn new languages, and gain a global perspective.
If you don't already have geography educational materials in your home, it is easy enough to find freebies on-line or plus up your personal library using coupons/thrift stores/sales. Our local Hobby Lobby has a great education section and I've been able to find geography board games, flash cards, wall maps and more. I buy them one by one, using coupons. Free printable maps can be found on-line as well as a ton of useful youtube videos. Below you will find some of the materials we used to learn the basics of geography.
We started by learning the 7 continents and oceans. I think every home should have a globe (mine needs to be replaced after a rather rowdy Girl Scout meeting). If you're looking to add one to your home, try Hobby Lobby's educational section -- you can use a 40% off coupon! If you don't have a Hobby Lobby near you, Amazon has a great selection.
Explorer Globe on Amazon
A globe gives kids the opportunity to see the shape of our planet and see how much of it is covered by water. This falls flat when looking at a flat map. Somewhere along the way, I learned a neat trick that the oceans each have their own shape. On a globe, I was able to show the girls that the Arctic Ocean is shaped like an "O", the Indian Ocean like an "M and the Atlantic Ocean like an "S".
Music is a great way for kids to learn and I found the MOST ANNOYING SONG EVER for you. You'll find the video for "The Continent Song" on YouTube here. My youngest was able to memorize her continents when she was three and this song gets all of the credit. Once we learned the words and tune, we sang it everywhere. We sang it in the bathtub. We sang it in the car. We sang it at the dinner table. You won't be able to get the singsong lyrics out of your head. You're welcome. (See "Activities" section below for a fun game to play while you play the video.)
Although it is terribly out of date and ridiculous, my kids absolutely loved this Animaniacs classic (found on YouTube here):
These books are hands-down my kids favorites. They love to see what other kids wear, what other kids eat and where other kids live.
Make An Apple Pie And See The World
There is a great book called "How To Make An Apple Pie And See The World" that gives kids a chance to see how interconnected we all are. There's nothing as American as apple pie, yet our ingredients come from all over the world. I found a great printable game via 123 Homeschool to reinforce the lessons learned. Since you're reading the book and playing the game, why not make an apple pie as well?
Continent Hop Game
I printed and laminated these continent cards from spelloutloud.com and spread them all over the living room. Then I would play the "Continent Song" on YouTube on the TV (see above for the link). As each continent was called, the girls would have to run to that continent card. They loved, loved, loved this game and we played it over and over again.
Activity Books & Games
I also found a set of printable dot-to-dot continents. I printed and laminated them and my girls can do them over and over again.
I'll be back soon to share our Geography library with you. I'm hoping the Easter Bunny will bring my girls some new geography books!