Saturday, October 1, 2011

Fun Ways to Teach Geography with Poems and Play

Geography in Games

Geography doesn't have to be dull and my hope is that I can inspire you to realize what a fun subject it can be to integrate into your homeschool. An enjoyable learning activity you can do is play games and do geography related puzzles. Something I do for fun with the map-like puzzles is time the children doing them and see if they can break their record the next week. Wow, how quickly they can put those states in place after a few rounds! Some puzzles and games we like are:

Playing with Poems regarding Geography

A fun geography game you can play with your children is to read each paragraph from the poem below and then have your children try to find the place read about as quickly as possible on the map or globe. For example, after you read the first paragraph, they should try to find China, India and Italy. The more your children search the globe and maps, the more comfortable they will be with them and will be memorizing locations in no time (and with no pain)! It will be natural for them… After a month of this kind of interaction you will see a drastic improvement.

Good Things From Distant Places

Tea is brought from China; 
Rice from Carolina, 
India and Italy— 
Countries far beyond the sea. 

Coffee comes from Mocha; 
Wholesome Tapioca 
Is from the West Indies brought, 
Where the Humming-birds are caught. 

That same land produces 
Fruits of richest juices; 
Shaddocks, Oranges, and Limes, 
Ripen in those sunny climes. 

Tamarind and Guava, 
Pine-apples, Cassava 
(Or the Tapioca bread), 
There are in profusion spread. 

Who would get the Sago
Far as India may go;
There the Cocoa-nuts are growing,
There the skies are fiercely glowing.

Indigo for dyeing
Is of her supplying;
Lofty Palms you there may view,
With the feathery Bamboo.

Shawls so rich and handsome, 
Diamonds worth a ransom, 
From the same far country brought, 
Are by wealthy people bought. 

Ceylon's balmy island 
Long hath furnished my land 
Both with Cinnamon and Pearls, 
Worn by dames and pretty girls. 

Pepper, which so nice is, 
Cloves and other spices, 
We receive from Indian isles, 
Distant many thousand miles. 

Sugar so delicious, 
Arrow-root nutritious, 
Are eonvey'd, I here protest, 
From the Indies East and West. 
Plantain and Banana
Grow in hot Guiana;
There the Chocolate is found—
Parrots in the woods abound.

Books that you may read in, 
This fact are agreed in, 
That Peru and Mexico 
Gold and Silver have to show. 

White and fleecy Cotton 
Grows full many a spot on 
In North and South America, 
India, and Africa. 

Many a one who tarries
For a while at Paris
Buys the treasures of the place,
Toys and trinkets, gloves and lace.

by Sarah Coleridge

Globe, Lute and Books by Gerrit Dou

Playing with Poems regarding
Geography & Vocabulary

You can try something different with the poem below, have your children find a sample of the terms written below as you read each line. For instance, in line one, have them point out an island on the map, a peninsula, a continent and a cape. If they don't know what they are then this is a good time to gently teach them. Older children can write down the words as vocabulary and look up the definitions in the dictionary. In the third line they can find some rivers, lakes and waterfalls (you will need a physical map for this one). I think you get the picture…

Geography (A Poem)

Islands and peninsulas, continents and capes,
Dromedaries, cassowaries, elephants and apes,
Rivers, lakes and waterfalls, whirlpools and the sea,
Valley-beds and mountain-tops - - are all Geography!
 The capitals of Europe with so many curious names,
 The North Pole and the South Pole and Vesuvius in flames,
 Rice-fields, ice-fields, cotton-fields, fields of maize and tea,
The Equator and the Hemispheres - - are all Geography!
 The very streets I live in, and the meadows where I play,
Are just as much Geography as countries far away,
Where yellow girls and coffee boys are learning about me
One little white-skinned stranger who is in Geography!

by ~ Eleanor Farjeon

A Geography Notebook

Lastly, if you would like to place some "professionalism" on the subject, you may want to make a geography notebook for the children and they can place any geography related activities you do in there. This would also be a great place to record their "puzzle times" as mentioned above and any other map activity, vocabulary or geography related work. This type of organization gives some mothers the assurance that there is truly a "geography" subject being taught in their home and the binder is the evidence. You can also have the older children copy a few verses from the poems each day and include those in the geography notebook too. Something that I include in my geography notebooks is the list of books we read pertaining to that subject as well. Just keep the notebook handy for those times when a little lesson is in order...


  1. This is wonderful! Thank you! My son will love this!

  2. I've been enjoying your blog for some weeks now. Thanks for all that you share. While getting ready for school, I've been exploring your homeschooling ideas. I'm altering some of my curriculum for a slow student and your ideas are quite helpful.

    I want to help you... In the painting by Glatz above: "Comrades," the children are Communist youth. Their red handkerchiefs are awarded them when they join the Party. As you know Communism is very anti-God. In fact these children would have been required to publicly denounce God in order to be awarded their red kerchief. It might be a small detail, but an important one. I'm sure many of your readers would not pick up on this.
    Blessings, Leslie

    1. Hi Leslie, Thank you for pointing that out! That small detail is very important to me as my ancestors fled communism in the early 1900's. I can't believe I didn't catch on to the red scarves. I changed the picture ~ thank you so much for letting me know and I hope some of these ideas will help!

  3. Jes, thanks for taking my comment with grace. I realize that having a blog put's one "out there" for inspection. Your blog has been such a blessing to me & my eldest daughter! We both love your Monday homemaking links. And I am using the Peter Rabbit downloads with my youngest students. They loved Mrs. Tiggy-winkle's tidying page today.
    Blessings, Leslie

    1. Thanks for taking the comment to comment and care, Leslie :)

      I am glad to hear Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle's Tidying page is in use, she is one of my favorite Beatrix Potter characters...

  4. I live this list of games and poetry! It's also a wonderful idea to create a geography notebook. The poem Geography by Eleanor Farjeon is wonderful and perfect for my kids and I to memorize. :-)

    Thanks for sharing on the Geography Blog Hop!

    1. Thank you for stopping by Sara :) Geography can certainly be a fun subject to teach!