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.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomHook students into geography (and more) with these challenges. Study the quiz questions as a model and create quizzes/activities of your own about geography related to a region you are studying. Use previous quizzes as a contest in geography class. Use them as examples for students when studying different countries, and have students determine what they would feature in their own quizzes. Use in math class to determine proportions by drawing maps or ratios. Have students create similar quizzes using Google Maps, challenging classmates to answer questions about areas, perimeters, and even shapes.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomThese maps are perfect for use on an interactive whiteboard. If you are teaching World War I, these maps need to be among your "go to" bookmarks for illustrating important highlights about the War. Consider also providing a link to the maps as part of materials students can access to learn more, as extra challenge, or for independent or group projects. The maps illustrating important technology first used in World War I will fascinate students who enjoy learning how things work. Have students create a multimedia project about the aspects of WWI that fascinate them most.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this tool and compare locations on your interactive whiteboard or projector as you study geography, economics, or government. Ask students what items are important to look at in a city where they plan to live. Then ask them the same thing about a city where they plan to vacation. Have students make online "tours" to compare their choice of three cities using Stoodle reviewed here. Share cities as part of a world language class to discuss the economic and statistical differences in different cultures. Use data from this site in math classes for students to compare, contrast, and manipulate real world data.
GradesK to 12
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In the ClassroomUse Free Map Tools to add interest to any social studies or math lessons. Learn about area in math by locating homes or businesses on the map, and determining the area that would need to be shoveled during each winter. Find the distance between any two points (home and the pizza place?) and compare that distance to actual driving distance. Want to know what is directly underneath you on the globe? Have students make a prediction. Then use the Map Tunneling Tool to find out if the predictions were correct. Use throughout the year for any number of purposes! You will want to share this one on your class web page for quick access when questions come up.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomA great classroom discussion starter, and perfect for displaying on an interactive whiteboard, the Better Life Index allows students to consider and debate what makes for a "better life." And once (or if) they can reach a consensus on those factors, where could that life be found in the world? Of course, once you discover that people are healthiest, for example, in Australia, what does that mean? Why are they healthy there? What community, government, and institutional factors make Australia healthy? Do they make choices other countries don't? This is a wonderful tool for guiding discussion about the public policy decisions made by citizens and governments, and how those decisions affect the quality of life. It would also provide powerful information for persuasive writing or debates. If you talk about utopias and dystopias, this is another way for students to decide what the criteria are for each. If you study world cultures, this site can provide a whole different lens to promote crosscultural understanding. Assign students to compare and contrast factors that matter most to them across multiple countries. Gifted students who are designing an "ideal civilization" can find meaningful data here to use as part of their plans.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomAs climate change's effect is being seen on every region of the Earth, this site is a great resource for finding accurate information and figures. Share this site in conjunction with your science curriculum as well as in government, current events, and geography classes. Click on one of the specific regions of the Earth or choose from the various topics in the icons along the bottom. Divide the World's seven regions among student groups in class. View the various impacts including undernourishment, population, dietary change, food waste, climate impact on crops, disasters, mitigation, and adaptation. Have groups present their regions to the class. View the comparisons by region by choosing one of the various impacts. Click the Climate Impact on People icon and view the infographic information as a class using a whiteboard or projector. Use the information presented to view the source material and understand the science behind the numbers. Use these facts as a springboard to further discussions about climate change impacts. Talk about what governments can do both proactively and in response to the changes. Besides the really large ways to cut carbon emissions, what are the little things others can do to make a difference? Begin a grassroots campaign to make small changes. The many infographics on this site provide valuable experience reading and understanding graphic presentation of information as required by Common Core.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomThis site is perfect for your projector or interactive whiteboard. Studying the Battle of Gettysburg? Access a photograph of Abraham Lincoln delivering the Gettysburg Address simply by searching for Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Wondering what your town or state looked like 50 or 100 years ago? See what images have been uploaded for places near you. Taking a field trip? Compare the "Then/Now" views and find the actual spot the photograph was taken and from what vantage point. Wondering what a famous person in history saw when she looked out her window or travelled around her town? Check to see what Sepia Town images are available for that time period or geographic area. How have cities grown and changed over the past 100 years? What factors lead to those changes? What do you see in the images that you would not see today? A horse drawn delivery truck? What don't you see? Power lines? Sepia Town is one of those sites that can simply be enjoyed by accessing random views and using those images as a platform for discussion or discovery. Be sure to include this when learning about local or state history! Ask students to explore and list the changes they find to bring back and share with the class. Students can take screenshots of the same site at two different time periods and put them onto a presentation slide they can explain orally or put them on a class wiki along with an explanation of how and why things have changed.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomIf you teach geography, this one is a must. It is also helpful for showing students WHERE a story or news event takes place. Teach map skills by letting students explore and annotate their own community. This site is great on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Create multiple markers for various points within your community. Annotate the markers with specific information that students research. Remember to create an admin password (and save it somewhere safe!) for others to collaborate on the map. Research various places around the world, and create markers of must-see places, historical finds, and other locations of interest. Create a map of news hot spots around the world. In Biology, find places where environmental or biodiversity concerns are occurring. Collaborate on a map to include annotated information of student research about these problems. Create a map to introduce various cultures around the world. Enter video, audio, information, and links that students can use to "uncover" the content to be learned.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this resource when discussing various animal units or a unit on behavior. When discussing a country or culture in history, consider playing various soundscapes to identify with the culture. Be sure to provide this link for students when reporting on a culture in front of the class. Students can play the soundscapes while presenting information on the culture (turn up your speakers!). Compare different types of animals around the world. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram (reviewed here) to compare two different types of animals. Students can brainstorm similarities and differences and follow this activity with research into the various species. In lower grades, play soundscapes during classroom read-alouds about the animals or places in the recording. Make the Soundscapes site a listening/writing center in your elementary science classroom and ask your young scientists to describe what they hear as they learn about making observations as scientists.
Grades4 to 6
In the ClassroomUse this site as a learning station or center. Allow students to play on your interactive whiteboard. Use Google Maps to locate countries and their capitals after trying the activity. Challenge students to increase accuracy percentages and number of correct answers per minute. Encourage your students to learn more about geography with Globetracker's Mission.
Grades3 to 7
In the ClassroomUse this site as an introduction to longitude and latitude. Share the activity on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Ask students to find coordinates for other locations on this map. If the music is distracting, click the little speaker icon to turn it off.
Grades2 to 12
In the ClassroomTeacher-librarians can use this to inspire research or non-fiction reading by embedding it in their website or displaying it on a computer in the media center! Use this site to learn drawing inferences about each of the places visited. Use the images as a class or in groups to determine where in the world it is located using clues from the picture. You will want to "hide" the location that shows in the top left corner. This is a great introduction into culture, building, design, etc. Project an image on an Interactive Whiteboard as a prompt for a short story, poem, or essay inspired by the image. Share an image as your students enter the classroom as the daily "travel mystery." Give your students 2-3 minutes of time to investigate WHERE the image is from. Brainstorm how the image is related to a story being discussed in class, a unit of study, or parallels to our culture. What creatures and cultures would be seen in this place? Ask and answer interesting questions related to the images. Teachers of gifted can use these images to inspire creation of text-based games to take place in these settings using descriptive writing and a tool such as Quest, reviewed here, or Playfic, reviewed here.
Very cool, easy to use site for when you have a few minutes. I think the age range could be k-12 as my 4 year old loved seeing where the door would take us. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is because it is really hard to get back to a place that you previously visited.Diane, PA, Grades: 0 - 4
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.
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 Tumblr, reviewed here.
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. Replace traditional voting methods and use an online voting tool like Dotstorming, 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."