The kids who are successful in school are those who remain curious even after the last bell rings, who notice the world around them, and who make connections between subjects and ideas. There are millions of ways to keep minds of all ages active and engaged outside the classroom.
The following article is part of a Noodle series about how to integrate learning into everyday life in order to instill a love of knowledge in your kids.
The Geography Edition
The beauty of living in a global society is that we have access to so much — information, ideas, photos, cultures. There may not be any continents left to discover, but there is still so much to explore! Use these ideas to inspire your child’s adventurous side.
Keep maps around the house.
There are shower curtains with maps, as well as placemats, puzzles, and mugs — and many kids are still dazzled by a spinning globe. Keep something colorful and touchable handy for all of the “where” questions that arise.
Investigate food from around the world.
Use your globe to pick a location and learn about the climate and culture of that place. How does the weather affect what food is grown? Which foods are for special occasions, and which are for everyday meals?
After learning about ingredients, taste your way around the world. The Metro Child Care Resource and Referral organization of Oregon offers a wonderful guide for younger children to make snacks from around the world, and Washington State University has a more in-depth project and resource list for older kids.
Make a map.
Map your house or neighborhood, complete with a legend, compass, and important landmarks. For older kids, practice drawing a map to scale. To engage young explorers fully, turn your map-making into a treasure hunt; take turns hiding something special and giving map-related clues to find it.
Go on a high-tech treasure hunt.
Geocaching is a digitally-guided treasure hunt that is created by a community of users. People can hide a cache, or specially-marked box, in their area, and tag it on the app that connects to a phone’s GPS device. Take your kids on a hunt for a cache, and work on navigating your city or town. When you get to the cache, it’ll have a notebook you can sign your name in, as well as a collection of knickknacks you are encouraged to trade and exchange.
Once they have had some practice, kids may enjoy planting their own cache for others to find. Look on the official website for more specific guidelines about finding and creating geocaches. Kids learn about navigation, maps, GPS, and exploration of the world around them — and they even finish the day with a little treasure!
Talk about language.
Learn about all the English words that came from other languages, and how we happened to pick them up through exploration and conquest. The University of Manchester offers a free online game, along with other resources, for learning about these “borrowed” words.
Find books and magazines that allow you to explore the cultures, bugs, plants, and flags of the world. A comprehensive list of picture and activity books for young children can be found through Portland State University. Another for older children was put together by Western Kentucky University. When in doubt, explore National Geographic for Kids, an engaging website that is overflowing with amazing information.
Discover the geography of basic objects.
Where does each component of your pencil come from? Take a peek at all the “Made in…” labels in your house. How many originate in China? Taiwan? The United States? Look at labels on food to see which state or country your dinner came from, and find those places on a map.
Want more ideas on how to cultivate a love of learning in your child? Check out other parts of this series: