Outdoor activities with a healthy dose of curiosity, brought to you by Laure Latham
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How do you raise young explorers and how do you inspire them to boldly go where no child has gone before? You open the door and let them walk out. You tell them about world explorers you admire. You get them involved with geography and let their natural curiosity do the rest. The National Geographic’s Geography Awareness Week is all about kids. It celebrates geography as a discipline and this year, it takes place from November 17 to November 25, 2013. This year’s theme theme is “The New Age of Exploration” and focuses on how geography enables us all to be intrepid explorers in our own way.
What Geography Means for Kids
To learn something, it helps to understand it. In simple words, geography is the science of the world we live in. From the science of creepy crawlies to the cycle of water in your neighborhood, from recognizing landscapes to wild weather patterns, from mapping out water resources in communities to ocean conservation, geography is a lot of things that can be pulled together to know about our planet. On a child level, travel is a fun approach to geography as it involves going places, discovering different cultures, eating new foods, and adapting to different environments. However, kids can also try the following activities closer to home and try these activities borrowed from the Geography Awareness Week website, to get your kids kick-started on geography and exploring their world.
How To Join Geography Awareness Week
You can plan an event in your neighborhood or at your school and use Geography Awareness Week resources to promote geo-literacy for children. The website also lists a fabulous 357 activities for kids listed by grade, age or interest and I’ve selected a few below to give you a taste so you too can try them with your kids.
For Kids Ages 5 to 8 Years
– Create A Local Weather Map – Students draw pictures that symbolize different types of weather and then use information about today’s weather to make their own local weather map. 40 minutes
– Describing Europe the Continent – Students apply the language of location to places on a map of Europe. 20 minutes
– Explore Cardinal Directions – Students learn to identify cardinal directions using their own classroom, other locations in and near school, and maps and globes. Then they discuss differences in temperature due to location. 50 minutes
– Sustainable Seafood Recipe – Arctic Char Croquettes – Seafood recipe card for Arctic Char Croquettes (better than fish sticks).
– Build A Meerkat – Students make a meerkat model while identifying unique body characteristics. Students learn how adaptations are crucial to a meerkat’s survival. 30 minutes
– Backyard BioBlitz – Go outside to discover and identify living things. 3 hours
For Kids Ages 8 to 11 years
– Classifying Information – Students practice classification skills using a collection of their shoes. 45 minutes
– Soundscapes – Students discuss the natural and human-made sounds that help to define a sense of place. Then they go home to identify and collect sounds that define their home’s sense of place. 40 minutes
– A – Z Geo-Scavenger Hunt – Students participate in an atlas-based scavenger hunt to learn new information and become more familiar with the atlas as an important tool of geography.
– Build A Sunspot Viewer – Students construct a pinhole viewer to safely observe the sun and sunspots. 90 minutes
– Name That Destination – Students hear clues about one of the most desolate environments on Earth, then think about what they know and want to know about Mount Everest, the highest mountain on Earth.
– Understanding Time Zones – Students create a time zone model and use it to determine the time in locations around the world.
For Kids Ages 11 to 14 Years
– Exploring Extremes – Through videos, students hear astronauts and deep-sea explorers describe what life is like in the extreme environments of space and the deep sea. Students create a digital story comparing and contrasting life in these two extreme environments. 3 hours
– Animal Adaptations in the Ocean – Students review what animal adaptations are, identify marine animal adaptations in a photo gallery, and predict how types of adaptations vary with ocean habitats. 25 minutes
– Animal Navigation – Students discuss the navigation methods of migratory animals. Then they watch videos, draw mental maps, and make connections between their maps and how migratory animals use mental maps and other cues. 90 minutes
– The Role of Images in Storytelling – Students discuss the importance of images in storytelling. They build a digital story around photographs they take to tell a story they want to share with others; they also evaluate their peers’ digital stories. 3 hours (the National Geographic website grades this activity for teens ages 14 to 18 but I think younger kids would also understand and enjoy it)
Have fun exploring the world and let me know how it went!