Mixing Geography & Fun for Kids!

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This category is filled with ideas and activities to use in Map, Geography, Culture, and Direction based Themes for children!  Great for After-School Programs as well as classrooms!!!


1.  Older kids can play ‘Eye Spy’ where the leader names an object in view and the children determine in which direction it is found.
2.  You’ll want to make a long list of commands ahead of time so you can just read them off, especially for older students when you need to go FAST.


  • First, mark out a compass in chalk on blacktop or cement on the playground; N,S,E,W. Incorporate these points into your Simon Says commands.
    Face north, jump in the air, and yell Bananas! (Turn west, close your eyes and turn a complete circle. For older youth you can say such things as ‘Face in the direction of your birthplace’…and so on.


  • Show which direction is east, west, north and south in the room or the schoolyard.
  • Ask geography questions: “Which way to Hawaii?” “Which way should we drive to see a polar bear?”
  • Have the children respond by facing the right direction or walk to the correct program room wall.

When you walk with younger children, point out the directions– you are going: turning left or right, going uphill or downhill. Point out which direction is north, south, east or west.

Write a list of scrambled country names on white board/chalkboard. Have kids unscramble the words and locate the countries on a map.

1.  The players get into a circle.
2.  The leader begins to name a counry, city or state. Example: He/she says: “Moscow”.
3.  The player next to the leader names the city which begins with the last letter of Moscow – “W”. He/she says: “Warsaw”.
4.  The next player says, for example, “Washington”. Then the players name, for example, Novgorod, and then it would go…Dublin, New York etc.
5.  Each player has 3 seconds to think over his/her variant.
6.  If he/she can’t remember the name of the city in 3 seconds he/she is out of the game



1.  Think about the map you want to make. It could be a path that uses landmarks, or it could be a verse that includes directions and distances. Make sure the start is easy to find, and the treasure is hidden somewhere where it won’t be disturbed until the treasure hunters find it.

2.  Use a piece of white paper and draw your map. Include the compass points and any verse or written clues needed by the hunters to find the treasure. Different colored inks work fine, some pencil crayons will work too.

3.  Tear the edges off the page, to make it look like a treasure map.
When you map is finished, wipe the wet tea bag over both sides of the page. The page will turn a light brown color. The page should be soaked through by the time you are finished.

4.  Crumple it into a ball and let dry over night.
Gently open the map, and wipe both sides with cooking oil. Blot off the excess with paper towels.

5.  By this point, your treasure map should look hundreds of years old!
Use the map for a treasure hunt or as a list for a scavenger hunt….

For kids to remember N, E, S, W (North, East, South, West)…
Some mnemonic triggers are:

“Never Eat Shredded Wheat”
Newts Eat Slimy Worms (N, E, S, W) and
Never Eat Slimy Worms!


1.  Review geography facts by having students flap their arms if the statement is true. Example: “Utah is the beehive state.”
2.  They keep their arms by their sides if the statement is false.
“The United States sent the first mission into space, etc.
3.  (Write your questions & answers out before you play this.)

Look at a map to find what is 100 miles north, south, east, and west of your school or town.

Use a pie pan to make your own compass.
Materials Needed:
Pie pan
Dish washing liquid
1/4-inch slice of cork

  • Fill a pie pan with water. Add a small amount of dish washing liquid.
  • Now you’ll need to magnetize a needle. To do this, use a bar magnet with the north end marked. Scrape the needle across the north end of the magnet, from the eye of the needle to its point. Do this about 15 times. It’s important to scrape the needle in the same direction every time — don’t rub it back and forth on the magnet.
  • Carefully poke the needle through a small piece of cork. Float the cork in the middle of the pie pan. Like magic, the needle will always point north.
  • If you walked far enough in that direction, you’d find yourself at the North Pole! That’s because the Earth is like a giant magnet, with one end in the North Pole and the other end in the South Pole.
    Source: creativekidsathome.com


Take a map and glue it onto card stock paper. Laminate it and then cut it into puzzle pieces. You could make a giant puzzle from a larger map. (If making a giant puzzle- cut and glue the pieces before they are laminated.)

1.  Give each child a piece of cardboard, scissors, and glue.
2.  Have them choose a map; the children then glue their map onto their cardboard.
3.  When the glue is dry, have them cut their cardboard into the shape of jigsaw puzzle pieces. (The younger the child- the larger the pieces)
4.  When they have finished, have them trade puzzles and have a race to see who finishes first.
Tip: Consider laminating the puzzles to make them last.

3.  There is an ATLAS BOOK FOR CHILDREN—do you have one of those? You’ll find them at Amazon.com

4.  Have a TRAVEL GAME!
Have the children plan a “pretend” trip to where they’d like to go for a visit/vacation. With an atlas and research – have them course the route to get there. Consider having a CELEBRATION THAT IS THEMED to the area they choose!

5.  DRAW A MAP of your program neighborhood—Include all the hi-lights. Youth can tell you if the places included are N-S-E-West of you…

6.  BRING IN MAPS OF YOUR TOWN and have children find out where they live.

7.  Put up a large map and have the kids stick push-pins in it to indicate places that they’ve been.

8.  Children can make maps to a mystery place and swap maps so partner has to find the spot.

9.  Have a MAP AND/OR GEOGRAPHY Bee. Have the kids study States/Countries or maps— and then have a ‘spelling bee” type contest (it could be individual or in teams) You could also do this like a Jeopardy type game.

10.  Challenge children (2nd-5th grade) to make a map from their home to the school. Even the youngest children can draw maps of a place that is special to them

Be sure to have a puzzle of United States on your puzzle shelf! Also a current globe, maps, and compass…

12.  How about a game where you name a Country/State/City—and the kids have to tell you if it is north or south of a certain marker?

DIRECTION DRILL FOR USING A COMPASS: A rhyme to help children use the compass…

“North, South, East or West,
Choose the letter for your quest.
Line up the arrow and the Red
This is the direction you must head.”

  • Have kids try not only finding which direction is East, but turn it around and have them find out which direction they are already facing or which direction the flag is in-etc.
    Tip: Be sure to call the compass needle —a needle— rather than the arrow so youth don’t confuse it with the “direction of travel” arrow.

A WORLD OF CHANGE…A Beginning of the school year AND End of the school year activity!

1. At the beginning of the school year provide students with an 11-inch by 17-inch piece of drawing paper.
2. Challenge students to draw a map of the world and label as many countries and bodies of  water as they can. Collect the maps and put them away.
3. At the end of the school year, repeat the activity. Has knowledge of the world increased over the year?
(If this activity isn’t appropriate for you, why not share it with a social studies or history teacher in your school?)Source: educationworld


Learning about other people and their culture promotes understanding and acceptance. Help children learn about our differences and similarities and appreciate cultural diversity.

  • Study other cultures.
  • Learn the flags from other countries.
  • Have cooking projects of special foods from around the world. (Check out the varioy countries in the category list under ‘Countries Around the World’ under ‘Themes’.
  • Explore how we all have the same basic needs.
  • Have items from other cultures available to explore.
  • Older children can do research and reports of countries and their people.
  • Explore the cultural challenges within our own nation.
  • Explore prejudice.
  • Explore the various religions within the classroom, and then extend it to the world.
  • Explore how all of us, even within the same culture, are alike yet different.
  • Read stories and poems.

GREEN MAPPING: Great idea for Middle and High school!

Pretend you are the first person to explore your home or school neighborhood. Draw a map of what you find. This idea with a Community Service/Green Bend is Green Mapping.

Green Mapping is catching on across the globe as children and adults around the world participate in diverse and unusual mapping projects. Green Mapping looks at the community using the map as the medium.

The map could examine environmental issues or look at community resources and needs with a critical eye. Green Maps can be computer generated or hand drawn and can include poems, narrative text, photos, and background information.

Children and adults from around the world have mapped a wide variety of diverse projects.

Consider ideas such as:

  • Where are bike trails, farmers’ markets, or wildlife habitats in your town?
  • Are there good walking tours to recommend?
  • What are the cultural resources for children in your area? Are there enough?
  • Are there toxic waste sites or environmental hazards in your community?
  • Are there rivers or streams that are at risk in your area?
  •  Where are the green spaces in your community? Should there be more?
  • What is youth-friendly in your neighborhood? What does your neighborhood need?
    Click to Learn all about Green Mapping

This idea is actually inspired by “Read Across America Day” which is celebrated each March 2. It is however, a fun way to learn about 50 States of the USA!


Encourage reading books about our 50 states and earn mileage to move across a map of the U.S. for each book read.

You “travel” across a map of the U.S. by reading a book that takes place in each of the states. (A variation is to read a book whose author lives in a particular state, or a book about a particular state.

You can develop your own mechanism for tracking readers…

FOR BOOKS THAT FEATURE titles about America VISIT Here… There is a long list of books for each state from Alabama to Wyoming!


  • Picture Book of Rosa Parks by David Adler
  • Watsons Go to Birmingham by Christopher Curtis
  • Run Away Home by Patricia McKissack
  • Helen Keller: From Tragedy to Triumph by Katharine E. Wilkie


  • Kiana’s Iditarod by Shelley Gill
  • Williwaw by Tom Bodett
  • Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
  • Child of the Wolves by Elizabeth Hall
  • Call of the Wild by Jack London
  • The Eagle’s Shadow by Nora Martin
  • Gentle Ben by Walt Morey
  • Kavik the Wolf Dog by Walt Morey
  • The Bravest Dog Ever: The True Story of Balto by Natalie Standiford and so on…


Offer this idea in your “Parent Center” as a way to keep kids occupied while LONG TRIP traveling…

1 small notebook
1 large zipper- seal plastic bag
A pen or pencil
Crayon or markers

What to do:
1. Before you go on the trip, write the name, the place you are going to, and the date that you are leaving on the cover of the notebook.

2. At the top of each page, write one letter of the alphabet, beginning with A and ending with Z.

3. Place the notebook, pencil, and crayons in the plastic bag and take them on the trip with you.

4. As you travel, look for special landmarks or things and write their name next to the appropriate letter. For example, lake would be written on the “page with “L” at the top.

5. Then draw a picture of that item on the page, and color the picture with the crayons.

You can use blank pages at the end of the book as a travel diary, detailing everything you saw and did on the trip. Kids will have a full book of vacation memories!


Give your kids their own COPY OF A MAP of where you are going. Show them how far you have come, how much further there is to go and let them mark it with a crayon. Every time someone asks “How much further?” Remind  them see for themselves. You might also like to get a compass and show them how it works along with the map.

Are you Traveling with Kids? Lots of ideas in its own category!!!


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