Maps are useful geography tools, but using these diagrams can present a challenge to children who lack map skills. To help your kids hone their geography skills, you can engage them in an assortment of map-related games. These educationally rich games keep students involved in the lesson and provide motivation for them to work together to build their map reading skills.
Treasure Map Race
Engage your kids in the competitive creation of treasure maps with this engaging group activity. To prepare for this activity, create photo copies of a map of a location of your choice. Looking at the map, create a list of stops on a hypothetical treasure hunt. For example, if your map is of the United States, you might write: "Your hunt begins in Cincinnati, Ohio, then you venture to Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania." Create a string of at least ten directions. Type out your list of directions, and create copies.
Divide the children into teams of two to three. Present each team with a copy of the maps and directions, placing them face down. When you say "Go," they must turn over their maps and directions and use the directions to draw a treasure map. Reward the first team to successfully complete the task with a treasure themed prize, such as chocolate coins.
Where in the World Is
Encourage your kids to speed up their map reading skills with a "Where in the World Is..." game. To prepare for this game, create copies of a world map, spread a large world map on the floor or suspend it from a wall. Randomly select cities scattered around the globe, and write the names of these cities on index cards.
When game time arrives, give each player a copy of the world map and ask them to have a seat on the floor. Tell the children that you are going to read them a city name and they must race to find that city on their maps. Instruct the players to stand up as soon as they locate the city. Once a player stands up, ask him to come up to the large map and point out the city to his peers. Instruct the children to locate this city on their maps and circle it. Continue in this fashion until you have exhausted your city list.
To add even more excitement to the activity, skip the random selection and instead strategically select cities so that they spell out a word or create an image when connected. After children have circled all the cities, ask them to connect the created dots to produce a mysterious image.
Practice continent identification with this simple activity. Type a list of names of countries around the globe. Create copies of these names, and cut them apart. Make copies of a world map for participants.
Divide kids into small groups and give each group a copy of the map and the prepared country names. Instruct them to work together to sort the countries based on the continent on which each rests. Reward the first group to complete the sorting activity correctly.