Thursday, March 5, 2009

Geography Puzzles are FUN

States create their own standards for education: that's how the Constitution works. (If it ain't Federal, it's State!)

As an Educational Specialist (Special Education Teacher), I'm often involved in helping students master parts of other courses. Due to a recent voluntary transfer from a junior high to an elementary school, I've been learning some of the grade level standards for the lower grades.

I should mention that I hate spending my time doing things that aren't necessary, so when I found out that all California fifth graders were required to memorize the 50 states and their capitals, I was perplexed, if not annoyed. But, before I opened my mouth, I did some research. Was this really a state standard, or just some nice-bit-of-memory-work invented by some by-gone, hard-nosed teacher?

It's a standard. (Who knew? -- Well, besides every fifth grade teacher in California!)

I work with kids who generally have poor memories; that is, they don't recall academic trivialities quickly and on demand. Unfortunately for them, school is full of such exercises in recall: they are called tests.

So in my spare time I created a cool PowerPoint that helps kids learn the states. I may try to market this bit of software this summer, but in the meantime, I've been looking around to see what others have invented. This is what I've found... and it's fun!

Puzzle Maps for learning US and World Geography.

I heard someone once say, "The best way to teach a kid something is make them think they are learning something else." I might add, "Make them think they are playing a game!"

In helping to find ways to help my students memorize things, I've learned a few tricks, but now I've also found some new games. I'm using them to learn the countries of Europe and Africa. Later on, I might learn the capitals too!

Follow the link and have some fun... you just might learn something!

(I actually had some kids go home, type in the URL, and play the games! They listened to me. I was stunned! But then, they all just thought it was a game.)


  1. It was fun. And I learned something. The map of Europe has been redrawn over the last 15-20 years and it got a little better grounded.

  2. I could definitely use the games for the other continents, since our focus this summer is on the global community. Thanks, Don!

    In fourth grade I voluntarily learned all the state capitals. There was some very simple computer program we had at home that just picked a state, you typed in the capital, and it told you if you were right or not. Pretty darn primitive. But if I ever go on Jeopardy!, I'll know that it prepared me. ;)

  3. Glad you both explored the site and profited. I'm still visiting, working on Europe and Africa. I can feel my mind expanding each time I play and learn.