IKEA, the humongous home furnishing store, arrived in our town just in time for Christmas in 2016. When my son and I dropped in one afternoon, I was immediately overwhelmed! It is one gigantic labyrinth!!! I don't like mazes, let alone life-size ones! Blessed am I that MY SON SAVED ME!!! He possesses a geographic, navigational mind, and HE LOVES THAT STUFF! So, how do you groom a geographer? How in the world does a teacher/mom with minimal "mapmatical" skills augment the mathematical, geographical, navigational competence and innate intrigue of her child? Here's what we do.
When we walked in Ikea that day, my son was in HEAVEN because of the immense size of the store! I was in love with the selection and prices! But, as we kept walking, I was getting turned around and confused (not realizing there are arrows being projected on the aisles of the store to at least let you know if you're walking toward the exit waaaay around on the other-other side!). But, since he loves mazes, he was having the time of his life, not realizing I was almost in utter disarray!
Somehow, he caught wind of mom acting "weird," and offered to lead the way. I was ready to turn BACK and get out of dodge, but he fervently INSISTED, "MOM! Just trust me! You'll see."
I was completely lost, but I let him do what he does well - navigate. I followed behind him and his "vehicle" (shopping cart), having given up ALL hopes of making it out of this store in one mental piece. And before I could say for the last time, "Sweetheart, are you SURE we're going the right way," we arrived at the warehouse (the last department)!!! He touted this handsome, "I told you so" look, and all I could say was, "WOW! You ARE good at this!” (Secretly I was thanking God for keeping me all together and showing me the door!)
My son really is my “buffer,” or according to dictionary.com, “a person who shields and protects against annoyance, harm, hostile forces, etc., or that lessens the impact of a shock or reversal.” He's my “geography buffer!” Following in Dad's shoes, definitely NOT MINE! :)
All that to say, once we discovered his ability and joy in navigating, geography, maps and globes, we made sure to surround and submerge him in as many geographical activities as we could.
Now, despite the fact that our current world is majority digital and technological, there are some things that are still better learned, retained, and even enjoyed "hands-on" (physically). If you have navigation-minded students at home, I decided to add in a few "old school" methods for heightening his directional abilities and skills. Tangible, foldable maps of your city, and US road maps with the spiral binding have made great mapping activities at home and on the go. Globes and world wall maps are invaluable resources that digital maps and apps simply can't sufficiently replicate.
Together, we have enjoyed learning longitude and latitude on wall maps and globes. We've had separate, individual continent maps on the walls in our hall since he was maybe 3 or 4 years old. It's our "Geography Hall" in honor of the famous concert venue in Midtown Manhattan in New York City, "The Carnegie Hall." We have also created entire field trips and various activities all centered around his interest in geography and navigation.
Here are a few of the many activities we've engaged in over the years, and many we still enjoy.
1) "Get Me There"
Road Map Challenge
2) Map Puzzles
3) "Where in the World Am I?"
4) Interactive and Board Games
Over the years, it seems that our son's love of geography is developing into many different aspects and evolving into various facets, all in which have proven to be quite helpful along OUR journey together. If you find that your student has illustrated an interest in ANYTHING, I'm sure there's a book, activity, and/or app that will help mold that interest into something creative and productive.
As always, I hope this article helped spark at least a thought for you to pursue. Be sure to like and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram for continuous crafty, artistic, and educational activities, projects, books, recipes and more. Enjoy! :)
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