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Geography Skills Checklist

by Beverley Paine, August 2007

This checklist was put together from a variety of sources over several years, including reference to curriculum guidelines from three Australian states. I always found it useful to adapt the Contents section of any geogrpahy text books as these proved invaluable for checking that we had covered topics and skills.

The following list is not in any particular order. It isn't intended to be used in a progressive or sequential fashion. Use it as a checklist for when you have covered a particular area - marking dates for for 'introduced', 'revised' and 'mastered' - or as a prompt for creating lesson plans or unit studies.

Map Skills

  • introduction to features of maps
    - compass direction
    - scale
    - legend, key
    - map references
    - contour
    - lakes, rivers, oceans, glaciers
    - mountain ranges and significant mountains
    - transport (road, rail, shipping lanes, plane routes)
    - land use
  • use maps to collect and compile geographic information
  • understand how to interpret information obtained from maps, aerial photographs, satellite produced images, and geographic information systems

Making Maps

  • using maps in different contexts
    - every day life
    - use in thematic studies
    - use topical issues
    - showing distributions and patterns
    - appreciating size and scale
    - identifying changes and development
    - specifying the role of the map
  • create maps to display various types of geographic information
  • using photographs and drawings: oblique, arial, ground level photographs; satellite photographs
  • line drawings
  • sketch and 'mud' maps
  • map making techniques

Introduction to Globe, Atlas, Street Directories

  • elements of the globe
    - latitude and longitude
    - time zones
    - continents
    - oceans, seas, straits, lakes, rivers, glaciers, icesheets, etc
    - equator
    - Tropics of Capricorn and Cancer
    - scale
    - countries, borders
  • introduction to atlas
    - using contents, index
    - symbols and legend
    - direction
    - scale
    - contours, etc
    - ocean maps, depths
    - moon maps, star charts
    - countries, borders, roads, railways
    - water bodies (oceans, seas, rivers, lakes, etc)
    - landforms
    - land use
    - charts (population, industry, etc)

Questioning Skills

  • ask where is it located?
  • ask why is it there?
  • ask what is significant about the locations?
  • ask how is location related to factors suc as people, place and environments?

Information and Research Skills

  • make and communicate observations about the physical and human characteristics of places
  • record observations in a variety of ways
  • locate and identify geographic information
  • use primary sources of information (interview, questionnaire, survey, etc)
  • use secondary sources of information (books, internet, media, etc)
    process information
  • use a variety of research methods and skills to locate relevant information
  • use statistics and other quantitative techniques to evaluate information
  • create maps to display geographic information
  • construct graphs, tables, and diagrams
  • interpret information presented on maps, and as graphs, tables, diagrams, etc
  • use photographs and other graphical information to identify information, trends and patterns between elements and relationships
  • use mathematical concepts and processes to analyse data
  • integrate various types of materials to organize and synthesise information
  • present information using oral and written reports
  • identify and define geographic problems
  • hypothesise and pose geographic questions, plan how to solve them, test and arrive at conclusions and make generalisations to solve geographic problems and issues from information sourced from primary and secondary sources


  • observe the physical and human characteristics of places on the basis of fieldwork
  • systematically collect information and data

Geography students need to be able to gather information from a range of primary and secondary sources as well as data obtained through personal field work.

Identify and solving problems synthesising geographical information is the ultimate aim of the study of geography. It includes the ability to select and design appropriate forms of maps, graphs, diagrams, tables, and charts to organize geographic information; and to be competent users of quantitative methods of analysis to interpret information.

A quick summary of Geography Outcomes:

Children should learn:

  • to apply mathematics to work in geography
    to ask geographical questions
  • to use geographical vocabulary
  • to collect and record evidence
    fieldwork skills
  • to analyse evidence and draw conclusions
    to use maps and plans
    to use information and communication technologies
  • to communicate in ways appropriate to the task and audience
  • to use secondary sources of information
  • to investigate the features of the natural environment
  • to investigate how humans use and adapt the natural environment
  • to investigate how environments change over time
  • to investigate patterns of migration and human settlement


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Together with the support of my family, my aim is to help parents educate their children in stress-free, nurturing environments. In addition to building and maintaing this website, I continue to create and manage local and national home educating networks, help to organise conferences and camps, as well as write for, edit and produce newsletters, resource directories and magazines. I am an active supporter of national, state, regional and local home education groups.

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We began educating our children in 1985, when our eldest was five. In truth, we had helped them learn what they need to learn since they were born. I am a passionate advocate of allowing children to learn unhindered by unnecessary stress and competition, meeting developmental needs in ways that suit their individual learning styles and preferences. Ours was a homeschooling, unschooling and natural learning family! There are hundreds of articles on this site to help you build confidence as a home educating family. We hope that your home educating adventure is as satisfying as ours was! Beverley Paine

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