TeachersFirst's Geography Awareness and Exploration Resources
There are many ways to view and learn about our world: maps, statistics, photographs, narratives, interactive navigation systems, and mobile apps. Exploring geography and seeing relationships between natural resources, maps, landforms, climate, and human activity can seem overwhelming. TeachersFirst's editors selected these "editors choice" resources to inspire interest and explorations of world geography in any classroom from kindergarten through high school. If you would like to see more, try browsing our full database of resources appropriate for learning geography or use our keyword search (at the left of this page) to search a specific geography term. Use the keyword search options and filter by grade level to narrow your choices.
Grades2 to 4
In the ClassroomDisplay this site on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) when learning about coordinate grids. This site would be useful when teaching basic map reading skills in social studies. Allow students to play on their own. Challenge students to create their own coordinate grids using the model on the website. Take any picture and draw grids using rulers then label. Have students identify different portions of the picture using the coordinate grid location.
Grades3 to 12
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In the ClassroomAsk each student to choose a country to compare to their country of origin. Have students pair up with a partner and compare their chosen countries to the country of origin. Tie in a creative writing project, and have students imagine that they are moving from their country of origin to their chosen country. Students can use the information and comparison as inspiration for their fictional story about what life would be like in their new home. Use the statistical data in If it Were My Home for some real world mathematical comparison between countries. Create infographics to compare the two countries using a tool such as Venngage, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomThis is a wonderful site to include with your bookmarks for units on transportation, maps, explorers, Colonial America, and more. Print and display maps in your classroom when using the included lesson plans. Have students use a tool such as Padlet, reviewed here, to create an online bulletin board for information they learn from the maps. Have students use a tool such as Zeemaps, reviewed here, to create a fictitious radio news story from a location they learn about.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomGo beyond state "reports" to state experiences by encouraging students to select independent reading books. Looking for more information about the states? For history, economics, facts, famous people, and sights to see in each state, try TeachersFirst's 50 States, the perfect complement to these independent reading selections. Even younger students would enjoy a "tour" of the states using some of the easier books on this list. Maybe have a read-aloud tour featuring one or two states per week throughout the school year.
Grades2 to 12
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In the ClassroomUse an overlap map on your interactive whiteboard (or projector) to compare states, countries, rivers, and more. Use this to give students a perspective on geographic size of earth features that they can't see by looking at a standard map. Challenge students to find states or countries that are similar in size, then compare and contrast geographic features. This tool would be especially important when explaining the concept of map scale or square miles/meters. In math class, use it to show a practical application of the concept of area. Have students use an overlap map when presenting state reports. Find a similar sized state (or country), then use the map as part of the presentation. Have a new student from another state or country? Create an overlap map to begin discussion of comparative size of where they came from to where your classroom is located. Try an overlap map to compare locations students read about in Globetracker's Mission or books they are reading. Include it in discussions about the impact of a country's size on its culture in world language or cultures classes.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomWorld history, and world culture teachers could use this video by putting in a city and country where you know there are historical buildings from the time period you are studying. Science and math teachers could put in cities and countries for the origins of famous scientists or mathematicians or locations of major environmental events. And, of course, world language and geography teachers can input any city and country you are studying.
Any student, but especially ESL/ELL students, will discover forgotten memories after putting in an address and watching the film. Students who have always lived in the same home may want to put in the address of a favorite relative or vacation spot. At the end there is a prompt to write a postcard; however, it cannot be mailed to anyone in particular. So, have students jot memories ignited by the video on paper or in an open word processing document. Have them use one of the memories as a prompt for a memoir. Have students create blogs to record their memoir. If you are beginning the process of integrating technology, have students create blogs sharing their learning and understanding using Loose Leaves, reviewed here. This blog creator requires no registration.
During Poetry Month or a poetry unit, talk about the song lyrics as poetry, then have students write their own poems and read them along with their personal location video (with sound muted). Make poetry a personal performance piece!
Have you ever wanted to show your students the setting of a novel you are reading as a class? Imagine using the setting for Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliet and putting in the street, city, and zipcode for Hyde Park and the University of Chicago. Powerful! At the end of the book there is a chase scene, and the students will really be able to visualize this section of the book. You might want to show the setting at the beginning and ask the students to write about why the person is running. After reading the novel, students could select different music to fit their impression of the book. Just mute the music in the video and allow their selection to play. Have students explain why they felt their choice fit that part of the novel better. Have students do this and vote on the musical selection they think fits best by using a tool such as Votesy, reviewed here.
This video could also be used as a prompt for a creative writing. Ask the students to listen carefully to the words in the music and connect the runner with the words, and explain why the figure is running? What might the figure be running from? Toward? Or, students could create a poem for the video, and even put the poem to music, or use the music from a favorite song for their poem. This site invites creativity and multimedia responses.
GradesK to 10
In the ClassroomBuild student literacy skills, reinforce what students are learning about maps, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior (classroom!) knowledge. Share this link on your class web page or wiki so students can select independent reading books to accompany your unit on maps. Don't forget to share the list with the school and local libraries so they can bring in some of the books on interlibrary loan. CurriConnects are a great help for teachers who have lost school library/media specialists due to budget cuts.
GradesK to 10
In the ClassroomBuild student literacy skills, reinforce what students are learning about Geography, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior (classroom!) knowledge. Share this link on your class web page or wiki so students can select independent reading books to accompany your unit on Geography. Don't forget to share the list with the school and local libraries so they can bring in some of the books on interlibrary loan. CurriConnects are a great help for teachers who have lost school library/media specialists due to budget cuts.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomSee "Lesson Ideas" from the Teacher Edition page for a complete list of ways to use this creative unit with younger students, on laptops with student partners, or as semi-independent work. Be sure to share the link on your teacher web page for students to share at home (or check on the next episode, if they can't wait!).
Encourage parents to join the fun on the mission by sharing the suggestions listed under "Parent Info."