Real Life Geography – An Idea

Back in first grade Max’s class made elves out of fabric, stuffed them, dressed them and named them (the whole process was a huge undertaking for the teacher, let me tell you) with the intent of sending them with someone they knew who was traveling anywhere, even if it was to the next town over.  The kids made a journal to send along with the elves and the person traveling was supposed to make notes in the journal of where the elf had visited, or take pictures if the person was particularly motivated to help your kiddo out.

Max’s elf traveled to Spain and a few places around the US.  The idea was, at the end of the travels, to send the elf and journal/pictures back to the child so he or she could trace the elf’s exploits into foreign territory.  Great idea in theory!  More than half of Max’s class never got their elves back, which was kind of a let down after all that work and excitement went into them.

You could attempt something along these lines and ask the traveler to send periodic emails to your child instead of completing a journal.  The digital age makes this sort of endeavor much less cumbersome these days.  So there’s an idea!  When you get the emails, it’s off to the map or globe you go to locate where your wanderlust ‘elf’ has landed!

We are trying to pay attention to where friends and family members are traveling.  Recently a Haitian friend flew to the Dominican Republic to grab a bus to earthquake-devastated Port Au Prince.  His trip is taking him to Santo Domingo and then cross-country to PAP.  We are following his adventure on our map (he is there to deliver supplies to an orphanage and to check on family members).  Another friend is in the armed services stationed somewhere in Somalia, so that information took us to the world map on the wall, too.  It helps to have a personal connection for information to sink in a little further than it normally would.

Take advantage of these events.  Get your kids interested in where others are going.  You might be surprised how much geography you learn together!

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