Tag Archives: games

Where in the world? (Pt. 3)

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Continued from Pt 1 and Pt 2

Well, I’m very disappointed to report that the “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego” iPhone game is not available. Not sure why they have a page for it still on Gameloft’s website, if its not available…But I tried to purchase it and after being sent around a bit, it finally admitted its not available for my iPhone. (I have an iPhone 4) Bummer. Guess that would explain why it does not show up on the iTunes store. Hopefully that will change in the future. There is still the Facebook game, but I don’t like how FB always forces you to include your friends, so I’ve not explored it fully yet. Will post more when I do.

So, back to Google I went on search of more great geography resources for kids…National Geographic KidsI discovered that National Geographic has an online geography game page! (Along with a lot more topics.) Will set my kids to work on exploring these so we can review in the future. Looks very promising! 🙂

I did also notice from that page that there is a NatGeo Bee iPhone app, and even online games to “Quiz your noodle“…so check that out!

 

 

 

Here’s another great resource that I had forgotten, even though we subscribed for years: Highlights Magazine makes 2 geography magazines:
Which Way U.S.A. (covering one state per workbook/map packet) and Top Secret Adventures by Highlights MagazineTop Secret (covering one country per workbook/mini-textbook packet) are great puzzle game magazine packets. There is an ongoing story throughout the workbooks to follow as kids complete puzzles set in the location of each packet. The USA packets have a map to find answers to many of the puzzles and lots of facts about the state your covering, and the Top Secret packets have a mini-textbook, puzzle, and character cards to go along with the workbook puzzles.

I don’t feel that these packets alone will give your child an in-depth coverage of the areas you dive into, (they just aren’t that meaty in geographical info…its more about the puzzles)…but if used in conjunction with other books and videos on the studied areas, could be really a great jumping off point.

Geography MattersAnd lastly…in my exploration of geography resources for kids this week…I discovered this site was recommended on a homeschool list on which I am a member. I’ve not personally reviewed any of their products, but they were recommended by other homeschoolers and I notice they also have some great ideas on their “Geography Fun” page.

 

If you have more homeschooling geography resources to share, please comment here! I’m always in search of more ideas for geography, which is one of my favorite subjects! 🙂

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Where in the world? (Pt. 2)

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…continuing from last post

Since I’m not really good at most of the world yet (I only just got all 50 states memorized by shape/location recently!), I need some training first, so here’s where I will be going first…Sheppard Software has an excellent geography section of their website that includes all different levels of learning all the different areas of the world. Just choose the area you want to learn, then start with the tutorial and work your way through up to 9 different levels! Its fun and its FREE! (*note: I couldn’t get Firefox to play some of the games, so I had to use Internet Explorer…So if you have a similar problem, try switching to a different browser.)

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If you have an iPhone, there’s an excellent app called “GeoMaster” that I highly recommend once you’ve become familiar with the area you are studying. This is a great game for drilling yourself on the area in a fun game format. Through this game alone I’ve managed to finally master all the U.S. states! The free version is just the U.S. and the paid version, only .99 when I bought it, has the rest of the world! Well worth the money!

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Facebook has a game called “Geo Challenge” that is also fun for drilling yourself on geography facts in a game format. I’ve really enjoyed this game a lot, and even get to learn country flags! For a small fee you can upgrade to “Pro” and have more specific maps to work on.

 

 

Another thing I’ve found really neat are laminated maps. I find them in the dollar section of Target every year around “Back-to-School” time. They come with a dry erase pen and on one side is the map of the U.S. or the world continents with labels…

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…on the reverse, no labels for drilling yourself or your child. IMG_1795_thumbThey are really fun to do challenges with the kiddos to see who can fill in the most states or areas correctly! (Target always has really neat things in their dollar section around “Back-to-School” time…I check them out regularly!

There’s also lots of places online to get blank maps for printing. A quick Google search turned up this one by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt publishers.

carmen-sandiego

 

Another great thing for learning geography, I think, is the “Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego?” phenomenon. They used to have a tv series, both cartoon and game show, and computer games. Searching online I just found out they actually have a new (to me) website! And there’s a link there to their Facebook game. Unfortunately, like all Facebook games, it does require you to involve friends…here’s a website that talks about why you may want to skip it.

It is a shame, though, since it’s really a neat game!

More to come in the next post…

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Where in the world? (Pt. 1)

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I am really into geography. I suppose it’s a side effect of living all over the world growing up. My dad was in the Navy and we moved every couple years, including 2 tours overseas (Sicily and Okinawa), and lots of travel as well. It’s amazing how well you get to know the world simply by going there. Unfortunately, that’s not an option for my kids. We rarely leave our own city (too broke), so I have made it a goal of mine to make sure I do everything I can to help my kids learn about the geography of the world through games and activities. At least until we can save up money to do some actual traveling.

When I was a kid, my mom got me a puzzle of the U.S. where the pieces were each shaped like the actual state. To this day I remember much of the states because of that simple puzzle. So I’ve been searching for good puzzles for my kids which also have pieces that are shaped like the actual state or country.

After a lot of searching, I found a company that mostly has what I’m looking for, although not entirely. But since it’s the closest thing I can find, it’ll do. (Please leave a comment if you know of something better…I would LOVE to know of other options!) The company is GEOToys and the puzzles are called “GEOPuzzles.” They have one for each continent…I currently have North America (USA & Canada):geopuzzle

And Africa:

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You can find these puzzles all over the web, just do a search for their names and a ton of options will come up. If you happen to have a “Professor Toy” store near you, they sell them there too, and I’m sure many other retail toy stores carry them…though I’ve yet to see them in a Toys R Us.

I say they are not perfect because they do lump together the smaller states/countries. And in the one with Canada, they don’t have all the provinces as separate pieces. Which is what I didn’t want. Sad smile  But there’s really only a few pieces like that so I suppose it will have to do.

Anyhoo, this is my recommendation for your first step towards learning geography with your family. And I say “family” because it’s really important that you, the parent, know your geography as well, of course!

I believe the best way to learn is to have a literal hands-on experience, so the puzzles with the actual shapes of the areas are best, I think. Even little kids can get to know their states and countries this way, especially if you do it together and have them say aloud the pieces as they are placing them.

This is also great for those of us learning this for the first time…A way to become familiar with the area we are studying before diving into the drilling that later will cement the info into our heads. Might even make drilling unnecessary, which would be wonderful!

But puzzles are not the only options out there, of course. There are tons of games that I’ve yet to explore and I will post more about them as I get a chance to try them.

Here’s one that I’m dying to try out:hopoff

 

It’s a geography hop scotch game called “Hop Off!” Let me know if you’ve tried this one, it sounds awesome! I’ll review it once I get ahold of it. Here’s someone else’s review of it, in the meantime.

More on this topic…coming in the next blog post…

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BOOK REVIEW: Playfair: Everybody’s Guide to Noncompetitive Play

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For those of you who remember “New Games,” you will see a LOT of similarity here! Including the fact that they both appear to be out-of-print. This is an awesome book for all ages, including adults. Probably not very useful with preschoolers, but you may be able to adjust some of the games for them if you are real creative! Noncompetitive play, for some reason, is seen as an alternative way to do things…but this book talks about how it really is better in many settings, particularly with children. An all-around feeling of positiveness and group togetherness is accomplished through these games! And I guarantee there won’t be anyone not laughing their pants off! Some of these would be terrific at staff meetings to help with team-building!

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