Family Fun With Geography

By Kim Moldofsky

Family Fun With Geography

We’re all familiar with old-fashioned spelling bees. In fact, most adults can still remember THE word that knocked them out of the contest back in the day. (For me, it was “restaurant” back in fifth grade.) But have you ever been in a geography bee or had fun with geography? I don’t recall participating in such an event, but in their early elementary years, my boys’ school participated in the National Geographic Bee.

They answered questions like these practice items listed on the National Geographic website.

As young students, my boys didn’t go deep, but the geography bee did spur them to crack open our dusty atlases and do a little online research. The competition demanded greater preparation at the regional and state levels, but my boys never make it that far. Still, it was a fun way to get them exploring topics that weren’t covered in class.

In an increasingly global marketplace, it’s crucial that our children have a deep understanding of the world around them. It’s odd that geography is often taught as little more than memorizing continents and states. Geography also entails understanding maps, borders, topography, climate and their populations (human and otherwise).

Geography is increasingly high-tech, relying on sophisticated geographic information systems, with sophisticated imaging, data collection and analysis (computer and math skills are key in the 21st century!) to understand and solve global problems.

Geo Whiz

If it’s too late for your child to participate in this year’s Geo quiz, it just means you have lot of time to prepare for next year’s competition. Or just explore these sites with your children from home, because the world is a really interesting place. It’s even more so when data is sliced and diced and layered onto interactive maps that invite you to examine population trends, ecological issues, the spread of diseases, distribution of wealth or a host of other factors. It’s fascinating!

Try these for starters:

Make it Personal

Try your family’s hand at geocaching, a modern treasure hunt that uses longitude and latitude to find hidden caches. Whether using an old-fashioned compass or a Global Positioning Satellite or an app to guide you, geocaching can help you get to know local terrain, burn a few calories and have fun while building geography skills.

Ditch the Apps for Maps

OK, so you didn’t walk two miles uphill to school while barefoot in the middle of winter like your parents allegedly did, but you can spin a yarn about what is was like to take your turn as family navigator during an old-fashioned road trip. Regale your children with tales of not only using a paper map but also getting the darn thing folded back into its original shape.

Has your child ever participated in a geography bee or had fun with geography?