Are you getting ready to teach your geography unit? It is feeling a bit stale?
Can your students identify where they are on a map?
These are all questions I found myself asking while preparing to plan a geography unit. I was feeling uninspired by the resources I was provided with and did not believe my students would be engaged.
Instead of doing the same ol’ thing I had done before, I pulled out all the stops to make that year’s geography a memorable learning experience.
Gather Geography Literature
After speaking with our school librarian, I collected a whole tub of books on geography. My plan was to use these books to pique my students’ interests. These books included maps, landforms, and human geography which is much more in-depth than I was planning to go in class. Still, it let me know where my students’ curiosities were.
Make Geography Come Alive
You can talk about geographic landforms until you are blue in the face, or you can make them come alive in front of your students’ eyes.
With the use of salt licks and water, students can see how landforms like valleys, canyons, and hills are formed. Challenge students to work together to create different landforms.
Modeling clay or Play-Doh is also an excellent way to create landforms.
One of my favorite ways to teach geography is through the use of Google Earth. The app allows me to zoom in on different types of landscapes, landforms, and settlement patterns as closely or distantly as necessary for students to learn about them.
Get Up and Moving
There isn’t a unit that goes by without including cooperative learning. In this case, I love using Find Someone Who and I Have Who Has? activities to get students up and moving while reviewing their learning. The fact that they also get to talk to one another while completing the activity is a bonus that hooks them in.
You can check out these activities and more in my geography unit here.
Take a Field Trip
Whether you go outside to the field behind your school or you travel to a location with geographic features, getting students to a new locale can invite fresh learning and excitement.
One of my favorite field trips while teaching 4th grade was to the Aquarena Springs Center at Texas State University in San Marcos. While there, students were able to discuss and view different geographic features while up close and truly view how life in the area had changed over time.
Call in an Expert
When I taught in central Texas, I would contact the local university’s geography department and ask that they speak with my students. Several times I had graduate students Zoom or Skype with our class to talk to them about jobs in geography and all the things you can do when you study geography.
These graduate students had way more credibility than I did with my students when it came to geography!
Play a Geography Game
Who doesn’t love a good classroom review game? For a no-prep, highly engaging way to review learning check out this Digital Stinky Feet game with twenty questions for students to answer and show off their geography knowledge!
Planning Your Geography Unit
When it is time to get started don’t be afraid to pull out all the stops including getting students up and moving, calling in guest speakers, and using the technology you have at hand.
To get off on the right foot, check out the materials I use to make sure I cover all the standards while engaging students.