7 Fun Gift Ideas that Help Kids Learn U.S. Geography

7 fun gift ideas to help kids painlessly learn about U.S. Geography Collage

Knowledge enriches our lives.  Learning about interesting things not only is a delight to experience, but also sets the stage for a more enjoyable life. The more we know, the more meaningful connections we are able to make the next time we come across a piece of information.  Having an understanding of geography plays a key role. When a city, state or country is mentioned, it is helpful if we already have a context in which to place a new nugget of information.

Our family is getting ready to spend the spring traveling around the good ol’ U.S.A. – metaphorically, of course.  I can’t wait to introduce my kids to the unique things that mark each region of our country as we explore bits and pieces of its history, landmarks, foods (yum!), and traditions.  I know that as they learn what major cities go with each state and information about these regions that it will enhance future encounters they have with these regions.

But they certainly aren’t going into our upcoming semester without any prior exposure.  My kids have poured over our magnetic U.S. puzzle.  They’ve asked questions and sought out answers to some of their questions.  Next semester we’ll just be taking it up a notch or two, or five.  My point is that learning geography is not a one time event; it is one we continue to revisit.

So like I did yesterday with some world geography recommendations, here are a few fun gifts to give your children that will start or continue to give them a strong foundation in understanding U.S. geography!

Games, puzzles and books that teach U.S. Geography.

  1. Ticket to Ride – We are huge fans of Ticket to Ride.  Anyone else? It’s a fun strategy game with a little bit of geography thrown in for some painless learning.  While the USA version utilizes current city names, the Europe and Asia versions use antiquated names.  For an older kid it could be a fun history/geography lesson to figure out the modern-day name of that city.  It’s primary focus is not to teach geography, but that tends to be the end result, especially in the US/Canada version.
  2. BrainBox – USA version – This is a fun memory testing game where you inspect a state card for 10 seconds before turning the card over and answering questions.  My boys would be all over this!
  3. The Scrambled States of America Game – I’ve never heard about this, but when I see hundreds of 5 star reviews, I perk up. This game provides a fun way to enrich basic knowledge of U.S. geography. Players learn the names, capitals, nicknames, shapes and positions of the states through a myriad of visual teasers, language riddles and geography challenges. After playing, you’ll see that there’s more to the 50 States than meets the eye!
  4. States and Capitals Wrap-Ups – I had some math wrap-ups as a kid and we loved them.  I picked up a second-hand set of multiplication wrap-ups and it’s been a hit over here.  This set gives kids a self-checking way to practice pairing states and capitals as well as states with abbreviations.  I could use that as I always get confused with all of the “M” states and their abbreviations…
  5. Magnetic Puzzle - We love this puzzle. Of course, living here in the Sonoran desert, my only bone to pick with it is that they show a saguaro cactus in Nevada.  Saguaro cactus are only found native in the Sonoran desert (Arizona and Mexico). But even Greta, at 3 was playing with it today and the boys were getting excited and pointing out two states that I’ll be speaking in this next year.  They were especially excited because we are hoping to bring them with us to one of them…
  6. United States Coloring Book  – This is a great coloring book that has interesting information for each state.
  7. Our 50 States – This book follows a family as they travel around the U.S.A.  It is jammed packed with all kinds of fascinating tidbits. It is an amazing book; the kind of book that you want to add to your permanent collection and pull out to peruse periodically.

 

31 days of gift ideas that will spark and foster your children's love of learning and feed the imagination!

World Geography Inspired Gift Ideas

The study of geography forms the base layer of understanding that lends perspective to history, earth science, nature studies, politics, economics and so much more. We have the opportunity to give our kids a gift in understanding world geography.  It matters.

I remember learning about the pilgrims coming over to America and trying to explain that to my young boys for the first time.  They gave me blank looks.  Understanding where we live and our place in the world is important. They needed an impromptu lesson in geography.  And you know what, it isn’t a one-time learning event.  It is a topic that we can circle back to time and time again as we learn more and more about the world around us.  A child who understands world geography enjoys learning about everything else even more because there is context.  That’s why I like to periodically give my kids a geography tool or game!

And the beautiful thing is that this doesn’t have to be a boring exercise in rote memory.

Inspire a love and knowledge of World Geography in a Playful Way! Perfect learning inspired gift ideas...

World Geography Games

BrainBox – All Around the World  ~ A fun way to learn world geography and fun facts about various countries, including capitol’s, famous landmarks, animals, etc…

10 Days in Europe - I adore the idea of learning geography through games and this one looks like a lot of fun.  You have to map out a 10 day trip in Europe.  There are transportation cards which you can use if you aren’t traveling to adjacent countries.  I love the way this gets you thinking creatively about country locations compared to one another.  I’m thinking I might actually be able to pinpoint Latvia or Estonia on a map once we’ve played this game a few times.  As a family that loves to play games, I’d love to pick up this one and the Asia or African version.  There is also an Americas version and a U.S. States version as well!

Global Twister – Are you the do-it-yourself type?  When we first learned about world geography, I made my own vinyl world map.  We pull it out all of the time to play and explore with.  I have the tutorial here if you want to make your children a gift that will last for a while.  We play “twister” with it by calling out continents and oceans to be paired with certain limbs.  It’s been a great hit over here!

Take Off!  We love this game.  It is old and although some of the countries are a little out of date, the learning value is amazing.  The purpose of this game is to get your airplanes around the world before your opponents.  You roll colored dice which determine what colored flights you may take.  And then there are “Take Off” cards where you get to fly to the country that matches the flag.  It is a great way to learn what flags, capitol cities and countries all go together.  As you locate a flag on the board, it is situated with flags from surrounding countries, so you use those as clues to locate a country that you may not recognize.  It is not available new, but you can still find copies on Ebay!

World Geography Puzzles

GEO Puzzles Europe, Africa/Middle East, AsiaLatin America, U.S./Canada or a world map  or if you know you want all 6, you can save on money and space by buying 6 in one box.  Each puzzle is in its own resealable bag!  As a big fan of puzzles, but not a big fan of storing them, I love this option!

World Map Floor Puzzle – For my younger kids, I love these giant floor puzzles that match landmarks, animals, etc with world geography!

Maps

“If geography is prose, maps are iconography.” -Lennart Meri

Maps are powerful.  We love to have maps up around our home.

You can pick up laminated “place mat” maps at Walmart which might make a fun simple gift.

We bought this U.S map + World Map and love them.  I’ve found the boys over there just studying the map for fun!

Globe – Every family can benefit from having a globe in their home.  We grab it all the time when things come up during the Olympics, on the news, in a book we are reading.

Wonderful books that inspire a love of maps, cultures, and world geography!

Books:

Me on the Map – I love this one for the 7 and under crowd.  It is a great resource to help them connect where THEY are with maps and in this world of ours…
Follow That Map!: A First Book of Mapping Skills – This is another favorite of mine that introduces kids to reading maps.
As Far as the Crow Flies – This book is a simple and beautiful look at using natural features to create maps.
Mapping Penny’s World – Another favorite in our home that helps build map-making skills.
Geography Songs – This is an mp3 file, so I don’t know how you’d “give” it as a gift, but it was too cool to not include.  We are huge fans of Grammar Songs and I’m hoping to add this to our collection before the spring.
Geography Field Guide - We ADORE this field guide.  It is a perfect size for tucking into a bag as you go out to explore and includes a description of lots of key geographical features such as the difference between a fjord and an estuary, an explanation of cloud types, or what an isthmus is which really helps our kids as they study these features on our maps!


PEOPLE - Where do I even start with this?  My sister gave one of the boys this book while we were staying at a cabin one summer.  I could not believe how captivated all of the kids were with this book.  It is still a favorite that gets pulled out and poured over during quiet rest time (because nap time never ends at our home!).  I love all of Peter Spier’s books, but I think this would be my absolute favorite. Someday, when I finally finish writing out my kindergarten geography curriculum, I want to include this book.  It is that good.
Children’s Atlas of God’s World - This is a beautiful one-of-a-kind children’s atlas to explore God’s world.  We love all of the interesting tidbits.  The Christian history and heritage section about different parts of the world really sets this book apart from anything you’d find at the library.  I’m thankful we picked it up at a homeschool convention last year!
Passport to the World: Your A to Z Guided Language Tour – This book takes you on a world tour as you explore customs and cultures around the world.  It is another favorite geography resource that I love to have for my older elementary kids!

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