Sunday, January 24, 2010

Raising Global Citizens - Cultivating Geographical Awareness

When Socrates was asked where he came from, he said that he was a citizen of the world. He regarded himself as a citizen of the universe.
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero

Understanding physical geography is the basis for understanding culture, politics, climate. It provides a mental for history and current events and a context for environmental science.

Here are a few ideas and resources for learning physical geography.

Get your hands on a good globe and large world map and have them handy. Some friends put world map under plastic on the kitchen table, some place them strategically in the bathroom or turn them into shower curtains, or on the ceiling in a bedroom. But any wall space will do.

Use the map to locate and mark any number of things - where friends are traveling, locations of current events, the settings of favourite stories or movies, the path of the Olympic flame, where Matt has been, the migration paths of favourite animals, birds or butterflies, the contents of a stamp collection, the country of origin for all the ethnic restaurants in your city.

Join a postcard exchange. Once you have put the word out to relatives, friends, relative and neighbours, there are plenty of groups on line which will allow you to send and receive postcards from around the world. One of my favourites is this one. And here's an article from Home Education Magazine about using postcards to enhance geography knowledge.

Play Extreme Geography. Using a good atlas or Google plot the locations of the hottest and coldest places on earth, the longest river, highest mountain, biggest lake, smallest country, most remote island, most and least densely populated cities, active volcanoes.

Use passions to relate to geography. Love hockey? Then find out where players on your favourite team were born. Collect stamps or coins? Do you have one from every continent or every capital city in Europe? Follow a certain band? Find out where are they touring this year.

Send in a formal request the international Tooth Fairy who will bring coins from the countries she has visited that night.

Learn to geocache and letterbox.

Put together geography puzzles. We have a few favourites including one of 200+ flags of the world and this one and some regional Ravensburger puzzles.

Play Globetrotting (a twister like game using a world map rather than coloured dots). After the game leave the map on the floor and build the CN Tower and the Great Wall of China, put your toys trees in the rainforest or Redwood forest and lay out your shell collection in the Great Barrier Reef.

Other good physical geography board and computer games we've enjoyed:
Where in the World? by Aristoplay Games
Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?
DK Become a World Explorer.
There are lots of options online as well.

Make a rhyme. The other night the kids were asking me where I was going after dinner. We had been discussion geography so I started rhyming our friends names with places in the world: Mozambique with Monique, Bali with Molly which sent them scurrying for the atlas to see what else they could come up with. Some fun geography poetry books:
A world of wonders: geographic travels in verse and rhyme by Patrick Lewis,
Got geography!: poems
Wish you were here (and I wasn't) : a book of poems and pictures for globe-trotters by Colin McNaughton,

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