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.

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Felt - Interactive Map Creator - felt.com

Grades
K to 12
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Felt is a free map creator that makes it easy for anyone to create and work with maps. Under the Use Cases tab on the top right, you'll find Education ...more
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Felt is a free map creator that makes it easy for anyone to create and work with maps. Under the Use Cases tab on the top right, you'll find Education with ideas for teaching with Felt. Easily share your maps with others by sharing a link or embedding them in another tool. Felt's simple toolbar makes it easy to map data or routes and add notes, links, or images. Pinning locations, adding notes, coloring specific areas, clipping out any location to emphasize, and adding layers to your maps allows you to map just about anything you could imagine! You must be at least thirteen years old to create a free account to create maps. This site is currently in a public beta version.

tag(s): map skills (56), maps (208)

In the Classroom

Visualizing data and creating maps just became easier for teachers and students. Help your students understand current events worldwide by creating a map and embedding it on your classroom website or learning management system. For example, use maps in science to track migration patterns, explore climates, or map weather events. Teachers of students aged 13+ years can have students create and edit maps in real-time from anywhere. Build upon your student's knowledge by adding layers to your maps to show new information. Teachers of younger students can create maps for student viewing to map a story or show animal habitats.

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Native Land Digital - Victor Temprano

Grades
6 to 12
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Native Land Digital is an interactive map of indigenous territories around the world. Click an area on the map or type in an address to find relevant tribes from that ...more
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Native Land Digital is an interactive map of indigenous territories around the world. Click an area on the map or type in an address to find relevant tribes from that area. Each tribe name includes a link to a page that tells more about the tribe or treaties referenced. Use the dropdown boxes to search by specific tribes, treaties, or languages. Be sure to go to the Resources area of this site to find a comprehensive Teacher's Guide that includes complete instructions for using the site and several map-related lessons.

tag(s): cross cultural understanding (156), DAT device agnostic tool (143), maps (208), native americans (91), Teacher Utilities (146)

In the Classroom

Bookmark and save this site for many purposes for geography lessons and lessons about indigenous people worldwide. Engage students in learning by finding indigenous people who lived in or near your location and then exploring the provided links to learn more about their way of life. Instead of using paper and pencil for suggested journal activities, use Telegra.ph, reviewed here to create simple websites that include student writing and images. Extend learning by asking students to create podcasts using Buzzsprout, reviewed here. Share podcasts that feature information about different indigenous tribes or focus on one tribe through a series of podcasts that discuss the land they lived on, their lifestyle, and the history of the tribe.

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BouncyMaps - Mapping Worlds

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5 to 12
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BouncyMaps provides maps from a different perspective than physical size, showing how large the map would be based on other criteria. Choose from the provided topics to see maps change...more
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BouncyMaps provides maps from a different perspective than physical size, showing how large the map would be based on other criteria. Choose from the provided topics to see maps change size proportionally to population, economy, religion, and more. Use the button to toggle back and forth between the regular and bouncy maps. Scroll down past each map to view a list of countries and data used to create the map.

tag(s): agriculture (49), maps (208), minerals (14), population (47), religions (75), visualizations (11)

In the Classroom

BouncyMaps is an excellent way to help students visualize large numbers and provide perspective to data. Use the embed code found on the site to share on your webpage or download images and data using the provided links. Start a discussion using one of the regular maps and hover over countries to show details. After reviewing a standard map, switch to the BouncyMap to show how it changes based on data. This site is an excellent one to share with students to explore during computer centers or at home. After allowing students time to look on their own, ask them to choose one map that surprised them and discuss their findings. Ask them to research the information further with the goal of trying to learn why there are such differences between countries. When finished, ask students to share their findings by creating an infographic using Canva Infographic Maker, reviewed here. When teaching world history, these maps provide context when teaching about major conflicts. For example, when teaching about tensions in the Middle East, refer students to the religious maps to help them understand how different populations of Jewish people and Muslims within that area are key to the conflicts.

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Persuasive Cartography - Cornell University

Grades
7 to 12
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This interesting site uses maps not to convey information but as a tool to influence opinions or beliefs. The author's selection of maps to persuade and influence others is a ...more
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This interesting site uses maps not to convey information but as a tool to influence opinions or beliefs. The author's selection of maps to persuade and influence others is a deliberate strategy because, unlike some other forms of communication, most people believe maps to be honest and factual. The collection includes more than 800 maps using various persuasive tools, including select use of color, intentional exclusion of information, and unusual choices of graphics and color. Browse the collection by subject, date posted, or look through the entire collection. Each link leads to a map found in the collection; open the thumbnail to view additional information, including the date of the map's creation and collector's notes providing context and background to the image.

tag(s): maps (208), persuasive writing (55)

In the Classroom

Explore this site together as a class or allow students time to explore on their own. Select maps that correspond to your current teaching units; for example, when teaching about the Civil War, browse through many maps related to that time period and slavery. Save several examples in a Padlet collection, reviewed here, and ask students to analyze the map features and how they might be used to influence and persuade others. Have students create webpages to share their discussions on the features of persuasive maps using an easy website creation tool such as Carrd, reviewed here. Ask students to use the download link provided with each image to download the image and share it on their webpage. Enhance learning further by using digital annotation tools to add text, videos, and additional information to the downloaded image using Google Drawings, reviewed here, then embed the Google Drawing image on the webpage along with other student work. Extend learning further by asking students to think of other examples used in modern times to persuade and influence options such as infographics, social media posts, and commercials. Watch an archived OK2Ask session to learn how to use: OK2Ask Google Drawings, here.

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Cities Quizzes - Ian Fisher

Grades
4 to 12
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Select from several geography-themed games created by a Google software engineer to see how many cities you can name worldwide. Choose from games that focus on different continents...more
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Select from several geography-themed games created by a Google software engineer to see how many cities you can name worldwide. Choose from games that focus on different continents or countries to begin playing. Type a city name in the box; if it is on the map, a red dot appears in its location. Click on the dot to view the city name and approximate location. As the game continues, the total number of cities and population appears under the map, along with additional population statistics based on your choices.

tag(s): cities (16), continents (32), countries (69), maps (208), population (47), quizzes (90)

In the Classroom

Share this game on your interactive whiteboard and play together as a class. It is an excellent way to practice and reinforce skills in locating cities around the world. Create different options for students to use as a challenge, such as find the largest or smallest population you can create with five different cities, using ten cities that come as close to a population total of 10 million (or some other number) or use only state capitals to come close to a target number of the total population. After playing the different games, ask students to select one location they identified on a map and further research it. Have them share their findings by creating a digital book using Book Creator, reviewed here.

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The Globe of Extremes - John and Raluca Nicola

Grades
6 to 12
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This interactive globe shares some of the most extreme locations on Earth. Find the highest mountain, discover the most distant point from land, and more by turning the globe and ...more
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This interactive globe shares some of the most extreme locations on Earth. Find the highest mountain, discover the most distant point from land, and more by turning the globe and clicking highlighted areas. Each highlighted area includes a short description cited within Wikipedia articles.

tag(s): globe (12), maps (208)

In the Classroom

Use this globe in your classroom as a conversation starter on geography around the world. Before opening up the linked area on this interactive globe, challenge students to identify the location or share their ideas on why that location is considered extreme. Enhance learning by using this site as a model for students to create their own maps that highlight areas of interest or "extreme" places within your state or country using Google My Maps, reviewed here. For more advanced students, share the blog linked in the "About this globe" portion. The blog shares the steps used to code and create this interactive globe. Extend learning by challenging students to create their own 3D globe using Sketchup, reviewed here, that highlights locations and features around the world that relate to your current lessons.

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40 Maps That Explain World War I - Vox

Grades
7 to 12
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It is hard to believe that World War I began over 100 years ago. Explore "The War to End All Wars" through a series of maps, both contemporary and historical. ...more
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It is hard to believe that World War I began over 100 years ago. Explore "The War to End All Wars" through a series of maps, both contemporary and historical. The collection provides extensive insight into the causes, progress, and impact of World War I. Each map is accompanied by a brief explanation of what it illustrated. Each map can then be opened as an image alone in another tab/window and is then zoomable. Some of the historic maps are static; others have interactive features. The maps are organized into categories: Background, War Breaks Out, Major European Battles, the War Outside Europe, Technology, Allied Victory, and Consequences of the War. There are hyperlinks to further information embedded in the explanatory material with each map.

tag(s): europe (75), map skills (56), maps (208), world war 1 (72)

In the Classroom

These 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 presentation about the aspects of WWI that fascinate them most.

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Urban Observatory - Esri, Radical Media, and Richard Saul Wurman

Grades
8 to 12
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Visually compare current data about cities all around the world. Choose three cities at a time to access information such as work, movement (including transportation), systems, and...more
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Visually compare current data about cities all around the world. Choose three cities at a time to access information such as work, movement (including transportation), systems, and people. View the findings of all three cities side by side. After viewing introductory maps and a summary of trends about any specific city, click on specific information you need. The interactive and manipulable maps change as each different theme about the city comes up. You can easily and quickly compare different parts of the population, weather details, transportation facts, historical boundaries, parks, and many other themes. Creators of the site have the goal of adding data about more cities around the world and welcome outside additions to the fact bank.

tag(s): cities (16), data (146), population (47), railroads (14)

In the Classroom

Share 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 Google Jamboard, 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.

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Free Map Tools - Andreas Viklund

Grades
K to 12
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Free Map Tools provides tools for measuring, marking up, and using overlays with maps. Scroll through to find tools for discovering the radius around any point on a map, calculating...more
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Free Map Tools provides tools for measuring, marking up, and using overlays with maps. Scroll through to find tools for discovering the radius around any point on a map, calculating the area of the enclosed point on a map, or determining the distance between any two points. Choose any of the tools to begin and follow directions to find results. This site has some clickable advertisements, so be cautious where you click.
This site includes advertising.

tag(s): area (52), map skills (56), maps (208), measurement (126)

In the Classroom

Use 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.

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OECD Better Life Index - OECD Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development

Grades
8 to 12
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of ...more
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Explore statistics and data about what it takes to be happy in different locations. If you could live anywhere in the world, where would you have the best life? Of course, it all depends on what you think contributes to a better life. The OECD presents the opportunity to choose from among 11 indices related to happiness. Rank them in order of importance to you, and then see graphically which countries in the world have the best quality of life based on those considerations. Want to have a high income? Then the United States ranks first in that category. Is the cost and quality of available housing what matters? Norway ranks first in that category. Other indices include Environment, Education, Safety, Work-Life Balance, Health, and Jobs. A slider bar on each index allows you to select your priorities and then watch as the countries realign themselves according to your preferences.

tag(s): communities (36), cross cultural understanding (156), environment (240), politics (113), safety (71)

In the Classroom

A 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.

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Zeemaps - Zee Source

Grades
4 to 12
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Generate maps with unlimited markers easily with this tool! NO membership is required to create, save, or collaborate on maps, and you do not need to install software. Enter a ...more
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Generate maps with unlimited markers easily with this tool! NO membership is required to create, save, or collaborate on maps, and you do not need to install software. Enter a title, description (optional), an admin password for others to collaborate, and a starting location to create your map. Add simple or detailed markers to your map. Input data from multiple formats: KML, CSV, Excel, and more. Add video, audio, and information to each of the markers. Markers can also be customized icons. Be sure to check out the menu options available such as Additions, where areas of the map can be highlighted and Annotations can be added to the markers. Share your map by URL or publish on a webpage.

tag(s): directions (12), map skills (56), maps (208)

In the Classroom

If 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.

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Listen to nature sounds, fall in love with the Earth - earth.fm

Grades
K to 12
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Immerse yourself in soundscapes from around the world! Soundscapes feature recordings of bird songs, frogs, insects, hippos in a pool, and more. Hover over the location points to view...more
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Immerse yourself in soundscapes from around the world! Soundscapes feature recordings of bird songs, frogs, insects, hippos in a pool, and more. Hover over the location points to view the title. Choose one of the locations on the World map to view information about the nature of the recording, a picture of the organism featured, a link to the recordist and videos, and a "Listen" button to play the recording. Move around the map as you would in Google Maps, reviewed here. Zoom in and out to see locations all around the world.

tag(s): animals (280), biomes (113), cultures (132), environment (240), habitats (87), plants (144), sounds (43)

In the Classroom

Use 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.

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Country Toad Countries and Capitals - Arcademics

Grades
4 to 6
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Practice and learn capitals of countries with this simple game. Jump on the lily pad with the correct country to match a given capital city. Be careful - choose the ...more
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Practice and learn capitals of countries with this simple game. Jump on the lily pad with the correct country to match a given capital city. Be careful - choose the wrong country and your toad falls in the lake!

tag(s): capitals (15), countries (69)

In the Classroom

Use 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.

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Treasure Hunt: Longitude and Latitude - ABCya

Grades
3 to 7
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Learn the definitions of longitude and latitude and embark on a treasure hunt! Find the correct coordinates before the pirates get to the treasures! As you correctly answer problems,...more
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Learn the definitions of longitude and latitude and embark on a treasure hunt! Find the correct coordinates before the pirates get to the treasures! As you correctly answer problems, you are moved to more difficult levels.

tag(s): coordinates (15), earth (185), latitude (10), longitude (9), map skills (56)

In the Classroom

Use 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.

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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 (137), asia (68), australia (26), canada (23), cross cultural understanding (156), diseases (66), europe (75), globe (12), hiv/aids (16), south america (36), statistics (114)

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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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 (159), states (122)

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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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 (159), map skills (56), maps (208), reading lists (80)

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, ENL levels and...more
Here is the direct link to share this resource review. Feel free to copy and paste this URL into an email or place it on your web page or blog so others can read this TeachersFirst review:

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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, ENL 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 (159), ecosystems (72), landforms (38), reading lists (80)

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 placemark files so your class can "tour" with Geo and Meri using Google Earth's free, downloadable software. Included are complete tech tips, detailed lesson and management ideas, and teacher information.

tag(s): continents (32), directions (12), earth (185), landforms (38), latitude (10), longitude (9), map skills (56), maps (208), oceans (146)

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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