26 September 2011

Do You Teach Geography?

A college professor friend of mine posted this link on facebook along with the comment, "This is why I don't give geography tests..."

Do YOU teach geography to your children? Do you think it is important to know all the locations of states in your country as well as the names of all the capitals? Um, this was a LOT easier for me to learn when I lived in Australia. I am still not clear on many of the capitals but to my mind, that's what the internet is for. But I do want my children to have some sort of clue where all the states are.

"if you’re not sure about a US state capital, try 'Springfield.' you’ll be right at least a couple times," someone snarks in the comment section. Response: "Ugh, try once. And only if you’re guessing Illinois."

One commenter says she's pretty good at this guessing game but often mixes up East and West Virginia. Another says, "Meh, most of those states are useless anyway."

Well. How terribly interesting. I use the "free rice" website and while it doesn't guarantee geography-literate citizens, it does teach countries and their locations.


  1. I taught geography "organically", meaning we allowed it tag along while we taught other subjects and we answered any and all questions. We hung big maps and talked about world events in terms of where they were.

    Sam loves maps and could identify numerous countries by their shapes before he could read.

    All of the boys have gone off to high school so well versed in the subject that they were dismayed to learn that many of their classmates didn't know where countries and states were. Joseph reported that he got the third highest grade on a geography test last year. The kids who "beat" him? Both immigrants from Mexico.

  2. Elf is "learning" where all the continents are in his history class, so I share your sadness about the low level most students are taught to in this subject. I do have to wonder if people in other countries don't learn about other places simply because they don't have a superpower type mindset that would relegate other places to the "unimportant" bin... but another post perhaps. :)

  3. We teach geography in several ways. We don't use textbooks, so we look up the location of the stories we are reading. If we are reading a book on Lewis and Clark, we follow their path. We also draw maps in a "book of centuries"--a notebook for recording thoughts about history and drawing historical artifacts. When we walk, we talk about the direction we are heading. The same thing with driving. We usually have a couple of books picked out each year to learn about people in other countries (not factoid book, but a story). We talk about geographical features as they come up too (so we've been talking about the Nile River's delta lately).

  4. Ha! I know what you mean by "factoid" books. Hate 'em. Your travels with Pamela and speaking Spanish were fun to read about btw. :)

  5. We did Geography in 4th grade. Placed a HUGE map with index cards taped over the state names, capitals, great lakes, etc. Then I would name a place and if the boy or the girl found it they got to pick a reward, a nickel or a miniature Hershey bar. Oddly enough, they both opted for the candy! lol

  6. BTW, it really works! We haven't done rewards or games or any of that. Just travels and looking up stuff we read in books. So, today, we were reading about Lewis and Clark setting up their winter camp in Fort Mandan. We went to the black outline map in the book which has the states outlined, but not named. The journey is show in a bold line and only cities and geographical landmarks are shown. I asked Pamela if she knew what state Fort Mandan is and immediately she told me "North Dakota." In the long run, making meaningful connections tied to experience, stories, etc. stick with you.

  7. I think it's important to have a lot of color pictures of the places you are studying in Geography. This makes them real, rather than lines on a map. I print them out and put them up around the room. Kids love it.

    --Lynne Diligent


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