It’s hard to think you need any geography games to inspire your Indiana Jones in-the-making. One look into your home might confuse a stranger into thinking a hurricane just came through, but you know that it’s in fact the sign of a true adventurer. Or that’s what you keep telling yourself.
Those open pantry cabinets, Lego marks on the bottoms of your feet and misplaced throw pillows spell out the escapades of your enthusiastic explorer.
Through a kindergartener’s eyes, the big wide world is ripe for exploring, for having magical messy adventures and for simply making sense of everything.
Capitalize on that exploding curiosity with the following 7 kindergarten geography games that not only give your child geography basics, but more importantly, help your little one globe-trot without ever leaving your neighborhood.
1. Make that landform
In technical terms, landforms are the different shapes on the earth’s surface. You know landforms as mountains, hills, valleys, and those table-looking almost-mountains you forgot the name of decades ago.
Encourage your child to learn about landforms near and far by molding replicas of different landscapes.
Browse through nature books or look for inspiration here, here and here for some stunning, naturally occurring landforms. Have your child attempt to create the exact scenes and shapes using play dough.
Different colors of play dough help add a bonus “ooh” factor, but are not required.
When your child is all done, have your kiddo describe the landform. Does it resemble the picture?
Note: all that sticky playdough mess has a purpose. While knowing the names of different landforms is important, the purpose here is to explore how the different parts of landscapes interact with each other on a physical level.
2. Play with a raised globe
Inevitable fact: your child will want to do nothing but spin the globe around and around the first time he encounters it. Much like me needing to devour the handful of French fries my kid leaves behind, it’s an itch that’s gotta be scratched.
Give your kid a minute to (gently) satisfy the urge to spin away.
After their spinning fun is done, explain to your child how the globe represents the many countries on earth. Highlight how a raised globe features bumps and grooves and is not only a tactile delight, but also helps show where significant landforms exist.
The easiest landform to feel for are mountains, so have your child point those out first.
After a while, challenge your kiddo to find the tallest mountain in the world using the globe. From there, move on to valleys, deserts and so on.
3. Map your daily routine
Help boost your child’s spatial reasoning skills while keeping those whiny “Are we there yets?” at bay by mapping out your daily routine.
While paper maps may seem like an unwelcome relic from the past, these tangible visuals teach kids the valuable lesson of where objects lie in relation to one another.
And when your child throws an “I want pizza for diiiiiner!” fit, you can calmly direct him to his map and have him figure out why a fifteen minute detour is not in the cards for tonight.
Begin your map-making on grid paper and begin by drawing easy-to-identify, everyday landmarks like home and school.
Add a compass rose once your kiddo has the east-west thing down pat.
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4. Find the (mini) landform
Look around your neighborhood for mini representations of landforms. For example, that patch of grass next to the concrete sidewalk, if you squint a little and tilt your head to the side, it’s a dead ringer for a plateau.
If you are lucky enough to live near real landforms, point those out too. If not, add a healthy dose of imagination to these kindergarten geography games and see where else you can spot them. If you’re trapped indoors one day, and if your home is as creatively arranged as mine (read: disorganized), see where you can spot landforms around the house.
In my house we start off with the mountain of growing laundry for easy points.
5. Point out east and west
This may sound complex especially if you, like me, are still having trouble teaching your kindergartener his left from his right — just hang in there.
East and west is way easier to tackle. While the left-right conundrum will forever be thwarted by those pesky mirrors, east and west can be easier to get a hold of, and truly much more fun to use.
First, frame the need for knowing east and west in terms of travel. What landmarks are east and west from where you reside?
Next, let your kiddo know this: the sun rises in the east. Each morning, remind them of this fact by asking them to point to the east while naming key points in your area located east of your home.
Add west into the equation (by highlighting the setting sun) as soon as your kiddo is ready.
6. Be a city planner with shapes
In this game, there is a city planner and there is a commissioner. Because kindergarten geography games come to life when someone gets to be the boss.
To prepare, pre-cut some construction paper squares, triangles and rectangles.
The commissioner decides what she would like in her city (3 schools, a post office, a bank, 2 apartment buildings etc.) and the city planner makes it happen with nothing but shapes and an A3 paper as the canvas.
Practicing spatial reasoning has never been so fun, or so pretty.
7. Construct roads out of denim lanes
Why denim? Because it’s relatively sturdy cloth. And because what else were you planning to do with those worn out jeans anyway?
Cut your jeans or other denim articles into long, even strips, about 4 inches in width. Using a permanent marker, create dashes down the middle of your lanes to give those fabric pieces a more road-looking vibe.
Then, have your practiced city planner begin road construction. Have him lay down some lanes on the floor, purposefully creating a city road.
The fun with fabric lanes is that they are extremely flexible and can be coaxed to lay on top of varying landscapes like books, couches, and other toys. Have your kid use her cars on the roads to test out their usability.
Add the task of creating 3-D structures along with roads if you wish to
kill some time challenge your budding engineer .