There is absolutely nothing that I hate more than to help my kids memorize factoids for a test. I figured out from my two older kids that their 4th grade social studies curriculum includes learning to spell and locate the 50 States, with state capitals as extra credit.
Trying to learn one section of the country every few weeks can be stressful, so I got the jump on it long before my son reached fourth grade. We played the Scrambled States Game, a board game, and did many, many rounds of geography trivial pursuit at dinner using map placemats. Beautifully illustrated atlas map books also make learning a pleasure. My kids would also credit this song about the capitals in South America and online learning games.
From my webpage: 70+ Free Education Games. This is the Geography section:
- Name Countries of the World
- Name the U.S. States
- Name U.S. State Capitals
- State Capitals of USA Game
- Printable World Maps Free printable maps of the world’s countries. Each map is a blank outline, the better for quizzing students on cities, counties, and terrain!
- 50 States Detailed information about each of the 50 states including abbreviations and capital cities. Excellent for teaching U.S. geography!
- Where’s That U.S. State? This fun geography game times your students as it asks them to locate each state. How fast can your students locate each of the 50 states?
- State Capital Crossword Puzzle
How about you? What are fun ways you and your kids are learning geography? Thanks for sharing!
Hands On Geography Fun for Kids
Barefoot Books World Atlas by Nick Crane, illustrated by David Dean
This is my go to atlas book. With large beautiful illustrations of maps and interesting details on the sidebars, some of which fold out, this is a book to savor and enjoy. There’s also a fold out atlas in the back perfect for mounting on a wall. You can use the wall atlas to point to a location and then look it up in the book, or just browse through the book continent by continent. There is also an accompanying app! [nonfiction atlas book, ages 4 and up]
Atlas of Animals Adventures: A collection of nature’s most unmissable events, epic migrations, and extraordinary behavior by Rachel Williams and Emily Hawkins, illustrated by Lucy Letherland
For animal lovers, here’s another way to look at an atlas. This book celebrates how animals survive in the wild through migration and animal behavior. Animals are grouped by continent and country. This oversized book is also gorgeously illustrated and begs to be browsed. You can also make this book into a game with the Can You Find? “Where’s Waldo” section in the back. [nonfiction animal atlas book, ages 4 and up]
A World of Cities by James Brown
This oversized book celebrates the world’s most famous cities with poster-sized vertical page spreads with interesting facts, population size, and a brief history. This is a fun way to dream about travel! [nonfiction picture book, ages 7 and up]
Around the World With the Ingredients: A Taste Adventure by Zoë Bather and Joe Sharpe, illustrated by Chris Dickason
Explore the world through food in this fun atlas book that uses indigenous ingredients from around the world to learn about different countries. Recipes are included which makes learning about geography hands on and memorable if you make the food with your kids! This is a really fun way to explore the world around us! [nonfiction atlas book about food, ages 4 and up]
100 Fun and Easy Learning Games for Kids by Kim Vij and Amanda Boyarshinov
If you haven’t checked out this resource for fun and easy learning games, you are missing out! The games include ones that teach reading, writing, math and geography so this is something you can use year round.
100 Fun and Easy Learning Games for Kids is by the two fabulous education bloggers at The Educators’ Spin on It, Kim Vij and Amanda Boyarshinov. I’ve been really fortunate to have them as a co-host for Multicultural Children’s Book Day and as a fellow blogger for Multicultural Kids Blogs. They are both teachers and share their love of learning through after-schooling enrichment games for kids. They are also both two of the nicest people on the planet.
Here’s my book review on 100 Fun and Easy Learning Games for Kids. One example of their games is this fortune teller geography game. [nonfiction parenting book full of fun learning ideas for kids ages 2 and up]
Scrambled States Game
My son loves board games; I do not. But I’ll happily play the Scrambled States Game with him because it’s fun and it sneaks in learning. For those kids like my son whose 4th grade social studies unit includes learning the 50 states and their capitals, this is a fun way to expose them well before 4th grade. This is a game that my son will request to play with me over and over again because it actually is fun! [50 USA States board game, ages 6 and up]
Placemats of USA and the world
I was surprised by how often we used these geography placemats during family dinners. My husband would usually start by playing a trivia game of state or country capitals. Having these placemats helps us look up the answers if we don’t know them. It could be that my kids are really competitive but my kids love playing geography trivia! Bonus for keeping the table clean too! [placemats, ages 4 and up]
USA and World Map Puzzles
I grew up playing with map puzzles so I bought both the USA and World Map for my kids. I like these wooden ones from Melissa and Doug but any kind of map puzzle is great. My kids did not seem to pick up geography from maps but I still think it’s a nice way for tactile geography learning. [wooden map puzzles, ages 4 and up]
World Map Shower Curtain
What’s not to love about a teachable moment in the bathroom? Captive audiences in view of the world map shower curtain may or may not pick up a few bits of knowledge, but it’s also an attractive and colorful image! [world map shower curtain]
World Map Wall Poster
The Barefoot Books World Atlas book comes with a wall poster but if you don’t have that book, here’s one for your wall. Put it up in a playroom or a child’s bedroom and use push pins to mark places you’ve been or a bucket list of places to visit someday. [wall map]
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BEST #OWNVOICES CHILDREN’S BOOKS: My Favorite Diversity Books for Kids Ages 1-12 is a book that I created to highlight books written by authors who share the same marginalized identity as the characters in their books.
8 thoughts on “Hands On Geography Fun for Kids”
We LOVE Scrambled States of America game. I just can not say enough good things about it. My kids ask to play that so often and have learned so much.
It’s my favorite board game of all time too!!! I get so excited about games that educate! Glad you like it too Mother of 3!
World map placemats, shower curtains, puzzles etc. What a brilliant and fun way to teach kids .
We just put up a vinyl sticker world map on Johnny’s wall. I like the shower curtain!
How is that on your wall MaryAnne? Doesn’t ruin the paint and not too hard to get smooth? That sounds like a great way to get the map front and center! I have to find a place for that in my house! Maybe in our basement!!!
Vinyl doesn’t ruin paint and is pretty easy to put on. You do need a smooth surface, which can sometimes be hard to find in newer homes.
I didn’t realize new homes don’t have smooth surfaces. I pictured the new walls to be perfectly smooth.