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Ten-Minutes of Geography that Really Work

November 21, 2011

This is fun way to incorporate geography and reference books into your day.  All you need is 10 minutes, a few maps, an almanac, and an encyclopedia.

During the opening session of our school day, we use a daily calendar of events around the world. I will choose between one and five items to highlight. These events range from the birth dates of famous people, national holidays in various countries, and historical events worldwide.  We use these as a jumping off point.

For example, if it is Togo’s National Day, we will find Togo on a map. On the anniversary of the first  nuclear submarine voyage we read about the Nautilus from an encyclopedia. If it is the birthday of a president, we will read a short synopsis of his life; for the birthdays of composers, we will listen to their music; for a poet we might read some of his work, … I think you get the picture.

We almost always locate any geographical locations on a map or globe. If there is time we can look up population or other information in an almanac. These activities will reinforce  the knowledge of reference materials that they will encounter on standardized testing.

When we started this, I viewed it as “fun and fluff” in our school day. I mean, did you know that in the USA we celebrate Handwriting Day on John Hancock’s birthday, and can you guess why? But over the years I have come to realize how much we (including myself!)  have learned through something so simple, so easy, and so fun. 

We don’t study the details of any item or test on them, but I might find the kids looking for a book on subjects ranging from Apollo Missions to ice cream recipes at the library. And I know the idea sprang from a date we mentioned earlier that week.

I don’t do this every school year. Some years we might just do it on a certain day of the week, but the results really pay off.

Now that’s not bad for 10 minutes of “fun and fluff!”



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