TeachersFirst's Editors' Choices for Geography Awareness and Exploration

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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.

 

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Hidden Ships - Sums Online

Grades
2 to 4
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Uncover hidden ships using grid coordinates at this simple but engaging website. Get ongoing feedback on your progress from the ship's wheel. The challenge ends when all ships are found....more
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Uncover hidden ships using grid coordinates at this simple but engaging website. Get ongoing feedback on your progress from the ship's wheel. The challenge ends when all ships are found.

tag(s): coordinates (32), map skills (80), maps (287)

In the Classroom

Display 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.
 This resource requires Adobe Flash.

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If It Were My Home - Andy Lintner

Grades
3 to 12
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If it Were My Home compares living conditions of one country to those of another. Allow the site to use your location when accessing the home page. This allows a ...more
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If it Were My Home compares living conditions of one country to those of another. Allow the site to use your location when accessing the home page. This allows a comparison from your location to others places around the globe. Select a region on the globe to compare. Choose from countries included in that region. View a map comparison. See statistics and comparisons such as oil consumption, economic statistics, and birth rates. Expand comparisons by clicking on the arrow. Scroll down the page to view more information and suggested reading materials about your chosen country. Share comparisons using social media buttons located below the map or email using the link provided.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): africa (181), asia (73), australia (35), canada (30), cross cultural understanding (115), diseases (66), europe (74), globe (14), hiv/aids (18), south america (39), statistics (122)

In the Classroom

Ask 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.

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Historic Maps in K-12 Classrooms - Newberry Library's Hermon Dunlap Smith Center

Grades
K to 12
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Find maps for use at all grade levels. There are lessons plans, objectives, extension activities and more supporting the use of historic map documents. Information at the K-2 level...more
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Find maps for use at all grade levels. There are lessons plans, objectives, extension activities and more supporting the use of historic map documents. Information at the K-2 level supports information acquisition skills while higher grades address history, geography, and social studies concepts. Instructions for Teachers gives an overview of the site including standards addressed and information on how to display and print supplied images. The map index presents themes such as "Exploration and Encounter" and "The Historical Geography of Transportation." Each theme contains several lessons, all include a printable map and lessons categorized by grade levels from K-12. Many themes also include curator's notes with supplemental images and resources.

tag(s): colonial america (107), explorers (61), map skills (80), maps (287), transportation (40)

In the Classroom

This 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.
 This resource requires PDF reader software like Adobe Acrobat.

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CurriConnects Book List: USA Regional Books - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 12
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Discover books about each of the fifty United States and selected U.S. regions. Move beyond state facts and immerse readers of any age in the life of a state or ...more
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Discover books about each of the fifty United States and selected U.S. regions. Move beyond state facts and immerse readers of any age in the life of a state or region. This extensive list is sorted by state, with books listed in ascending level "bands" within each state. Listings include ESL/ELL and Lexile'''® levels so every student can read successfully.

tag(s): book lists (124), states (163)

In the Classroom

Go 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.

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Overlap Maps - Sunflower Education

Grades
2 to 12
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Overlap Maps is a wonderful resource to easily and instantly compare any two places on earth! Choose from countries, lakes, states, man-made features, other natural resources, or wildfires...more
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Overlap Maps is a wonderful resource to easily and instantly compare any two places on earth! Choose from countries, lakes, states, man-made features, other natural resources, or wildfires in each of the two columns. (The site states that new categories will be added soon.) Then click the arrow to see the result. The first choice is instantly displayed as an overlay on top of the second via Google maps, along with a description stating what the map shows. Find the URL to your map by clicking Share. You can also share via Twitter or Facebook. There is an option to print your map.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): area (65), continents (50), countries (77), map skills (80), maps (287), measurement (163), rivers (21), states (163), visualizations (14)

In the Classroom

Use 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.

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The Wilderness Downtown - Chris Milk

Grades
4 to 12
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This interactive music video will bring in a street view of any address you enter. The pop group, Arcade Fire, worked with Google to develop this video for its song ...more
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This interactive music video will bring in a street view of any address you enter. The pop group, Arcade Fire, worked with Google to develop this video for its song "We Used To Wait." The video is best viewed in Chrome, but can also be viewed in Safari, and most of it on Internet Explorer. It uses Google Maps and Google Street View to bring the address you entered directly into the movie. You don't have to enter an exact address for the interaction to happen. You can put in a city, state, and country and get some very good results. A warning will appear that the information isn't complete, but click on "continue anyway" to see the results. Not only is this a sentimental trip down memory lane for you, but there are a myriad of ways to use this video with your students. Note: the video actually launches in multiple smaller windows, so allow all of them to montage on your screen! The final "postcard" that prompts you to write to your younger self uses the same artistic font as the title page. Take a screen shot of it to preserve what your message.

tag(s): creative writing (167), descriptive writing (41), poetry (229), video (251), writing prompts (92)

In the Classroom

World 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 using Throwww (reviewed here). This site allows you to create "quick and easy" blogs to be used one time only. There is no registration necessary!

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 Thinkmeter 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.

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CurriConnects Book List - Maps - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 10
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Use this CurriConnects list to find books related to maps. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles''''''®...more
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Use this CurriConnects list to find books related to maps. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles''''''® to match with student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate. Don't miss other CurriConnects themes being added regularly.

tag(s): book lists (124), map skills (80), maps (287), reading lists (72)

In the Classroom

Build 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.

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CurriConnects Book List - Geographic Wonders - TeachersFirst

Grades
K to 10
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Use this CurriConnects list to find books related to Geography. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and...more
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Use this CurriConnects list to find books related to Geography. CurriConnects thematic book lists include ISBN numbers for ordering or searching, interest grade levels, ESL levels and Lexiles'''''''® to match with student independent reading levels to challenge, not frustrate. Don't miss other CurriConnects themes being added regularly.

tag(s): book lists (124), ecosystems (88), landforms (45), reading lists (72)

In the Classroom

Build 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.

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Globetracker's Mission - TeachersFirst

Grades
2 to 6
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Globetracker's Mission is a projector- or whiteboard-ready episodic story in blog-style format, taking students in grades 2-6 on a journey as they learn standards-based geography, landforms,...more
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Globetracker's Mission is a projector- or whiteboard-ready episodic story in blog-style format, taking students in grades 2-6 on a journey as they learn standards-based geography, landforms, and map skills in an engaging, interactive context. Each weekly "post" from Geo and Meri, fictitious brother and sister techno-savvy teens, traces steps on a secret mission for their Uncle Globetracker and his important but unnamed government agency. Episodes include annotated vocabulary terms, interactive maps to practice map skills, and think-aloud questions the teens pose as they use today's tools: text messaging, cell phones, and blog-posting. Readers vote at the conclusion of each post, telling Geo and Meri what to do next. TeachersFirst member teachers have other options for their classes to become involved in the mission. All episodes have accompanying Google Earth, placemarker files so your class can "tour" with Geo and Meri using Google Earth's free, downloadable software. Complete tech tips, detailed lesson and management ideas, and teacher information are included.

tag(s): continents (50), directions (20), earth (228), landforms (45), latitude (13), longitude (13), map skills (80), maps (287), oceans (147)

In the Classroom

See "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."

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