By Jamaica Thompson
For many of us, the word “geography” conjures up memories of reciting the names of the seven continents and identifying the five major oceans on wall maps in elementary school. But, geography can be much more than simply being able to identify geological formations on a map. Geography happens to be an incredibly important part of understanding our world and visualizing history!
Landforms such as mountains, valleys, plateaus, and deserts and bodies of water such as rivers, lakes, seas, and oceans often dictate the migration routes of animals, the movement of people, and ultimately, the spread of languages, knowledge, and culture. Our history has been changed and shaped by the landforms around us, and helping our children to understand this connection is an important piece of understanding the story of us!
No matter their age or learning style, there are many ways to make geography and history engaging and exciting for kids! Interactive maps, puzzle maps, and relief maps are all great ways for those kinesthetic learners to explore continents, oceans, and landforms. Break out the blocks and build a mountain range for a herd of toy animals to cross; create shoebox diorama of a favorite landform; head out to the sandbox with the hose and shovel to demonstrate how rivers can shape the land and move mountains!
For artistic students, creating a large wall map together, marking different landforms, and labeling the continents and oceans can be a great way to visualize how these things come together to shape history. While watching videos and reading about the major continents, oceans, and landforms may be more appropriate for others.
For all students, referring back to the importance of geography in our discussions of history can help to solidify these concepts and create a lasting understanding of how our natural world has shaped the course of human history!
To help your students learn more about geography, check out our free mini unit: Geography of Our World!