I can go just about anywhere and become completely lost. Luckily for me my Noori has always had the ability to find her way back from anywhere.
With this in mind I’m quite shocked that she thinks London and Manchester are completely different countries. While playing different board games she always get stuck on the Geography questions. To be honest so do I.
The only thing I remember learning in geography at school was about volcanoes. Here was a classroom full of students eager to learn about the world, but instead learning about habitats, rocks and weather systems. Important things to learn about, but we all wanted to know about countries, the people,the cultures,the food. Needless to say at high school I chose History over Geography (maybe this is why I missed the good stuff). And it looks as thought Noori’s schooling is going the same way.
This is why I have taken it upon myself to teach her some good old fashioned geography, using games, quizzes, a compass, maps, holidays, books and food.
When I’d had enough of trying to explain Blackpool is 20 minutes drive rather than a 6 hour plane journey I went and bought a map of the UK.
We had a look at where we live and what is around us, including the Irish Sea (new fun fact for me).
I pointed out England, Ireland,Scotland and Wales and that some of them are different countries but we don’t need to cross the sea to get there.
Too make it more personal I showed her where her friends and family live, where her Grandparents are on holiday and where we have been on holiday. I then asked her to point to different places on the map .
We then looked at the world map and saw where we live in the world, where the family are from, where they live, where friends live, where her friends parents are from and where her Grandparents are on holiday.
It’s all well and good to teach our kids these things about the world but they will only understand if the understand their place in the world. For this we made a self map. Not so glamourous as you can see, but it serves its purpose.
You will need 6 pieces of paper gradually getting bigger. We just used scrap paper. Starting with the smallest piece to the biggest, write My House,In the County, in the city , In the country, on the continent, on the planet.
Bind these together and have your child fill in the answers. Have a map besides you to explain each part and point it out on the map. You can use Google maps to find your house, a map of your country, a world map and a space map if you don’t have the physical maps.
To find our way around a map we needed to know about compasses. I drew a simple compass North, West ,South and East on a scrap paper. I had her memorize where each point was using the poem that I was taught at school,
I downloaded a compass on my phone and we worked out which directions our neighbours lived at and if we keep going North we will get to Scotland.
I have read that we should teach about the continents before individual countries.
We watched this nice video on YouTube.
I also found this useful book The Fact Cat – Equator. The first page shows the continents. We looked at the page and discussed it. I learned a few new things myself. I then showed Noori the world map and explained that all of the continents contain countries.
Noori ran upstairs and grabbed her DK- Around the World game . It is a bit like snakes and ladders. The ladders are planes that take you further North and the snakes are things like miss a turn to watch penguins in Antarctica. I hadn’t noticed the map showed the continents. We played it making a point to say which continent we landed on.
To explain the equator I used the same Fact Cat – Equator book. The book also explains about the Northern and Southern hemispheres.
I chose to learn about Europe first as that is where we live. We read the book Introducing Europe and looked for it on the map.
To make sure Noori understands and remembers all that she has learned I made a continent puzzle. I took the world map, traced around all the continents and cut them out. She then placed all the pieces onto the map in the correct place and labeled them. I then asked her to point out the Northern and Southern Hemispheres and where the Equator is.
As my Noori is a total foodie it wouldn’t be right if we didn’t do a baking session with a geography twist.
We made simple vanilla cookies. To make the dough into continent shapes we used the cut out paper continent as a guide. We used Africa, South America and Australia as they made the best cookie shapes.
I was going to show you all a beautiful photo of our continent cookies but they got eaten before I had the chance.
Travel Quiz Cards
The game that sparked this whole topic was our Usborne Travel Quiz Cards. These brightly illustrated cards come in a small pack with 4 answer cards. Each card has 20 questions. You can invent your own game with them. We each took a card and asked each other the questions using the world map to help us. Whoever got more than 3 answers wrong lost the card. Whoever has the most cards in the end wins.
Playing this game showed us how little we know about geography. We have already learned so much from playing the game once or twice.
Now we have finished learning about the continents we will learn about a country a week Inshallah, so stay tuned.
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