Ideas for Geography Lesson Plans and Activities
© Beverley Paine, August 2007
[this article forms part of a series on Geography you can buy as a Practical Homeschooling booklet from Always Learning Books]
Use Major Sporting Events, such as the Olympics, World Cup or athletics games to get children to locate different countries around the world and begin investigations into how people live in those countries. Make small flags from each country represented at the games or competition and plot them on a world map. Investigate climate, culture, economy etc.
- Pen Pal. This can be a real pen pal or an imaginary one. Ask on a homeschooling forum or internet support group for suitable pen pals or if anyone knows about a pen pal club for your children. Real pen pals have long lasting benefits, not only in expanding knowledge in geography but also in personal development and language skills development. Imaginary pen pals are fun and can involve a lot of lateral thinking. Describing how we Earthlings live and why we do the things we do to interstellar travellers can really stretch lateral and creative thinking skills!
- Ted Bear's Amazing Journey. This is a version of the Flat Stanley project begun a few years ago. It's an old favourite now and children love to be involved. Basically, Ted Bear is a small teddy bear who has a journal and he is sent from family to family, staying a week and then moving on. Each child gets to write a page in the journal about Ted's 'holiday' with them, recording information about where they live, what it's like there, some of the things Ted did (like visits to local places of interest). Families usually paste in tickets, brochures, pressed flowers and leaves - anything at all. Eventually Ted Bear returns home and the originating family have a wonderful account of his amazing journey. Each family pays postage to the next family and in the front of the book is a list of the families Ted's visited and their contact details. This allows each family to stay in touch with Ted's new friends.
- Postcards. There have been many homeschool postcard clubs. We belonged to one that was started in America in the early 1990s and collected over 50 postcards, mostly from Australia and the USA, with a few coming from overseas. Yahoo groups hosts a number of post card clubs that you can belong to, or you can start your own.
- Houses from around the world. Nearly all children love making things, especially if you have the necessary materials to hand and there aren't any delays. Research some different house styles around the world - you can focus on houses from a particular era in the past, or you can select a particular place and time, or a country (now and then)... there are so many ways you can approach this activity, which means you can revisit it many times as your children grow and always learn something new. You can build models of houses from all kinds of materials - balsa wood, clay, cloth, pop sticks, matchsticks, wooden blocks, stones, mud and wattle, palm fronds, bamboo... You can build your model houses to scale. You can build them cubby house size to fit your children! You can decorate them to suit the theme you've chosen. It's impossible not to learn many across-the-curriculum skills learned making models and as the children grow proficient their ability to build models to scale with accurate detail is enhanced.
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