Remember the beloved children’s song, “It’s a Small World (After All)”? The Sherman Brothers wrote it 65 years ago, following the Cuban Missile Crisis, and the world has become even smaller, and since the digital age, more “connected.” Yet many kids sadly seem to know less and less about the world around them.
In a 2015 U.S. News article by Lauren Camera titled, “U.S. Students Are Really Bad at Geography,"she writes, “Nearly three-quarters of eighth-graders tested below proficient in geography on the 2014 National Assessment of Educational Progress—also known as the Nation’s Report Card—and that’s almost exactly the same result as in 1994.” Questions include content areas of “environment and society,” “spatial dynamics and connections,” and “space and place.”
Two sample questions—directions, really— include “use atlas to identify country on Horn of Africa” and “use atlas to identify one or two of four cities in humid sub-tropical zone.” Though the NAEP was not administered to fourth-graders in 2014, sample questions presented to that age group in 2010 included “use a map to understand city development,” “identify a state capital location,” and “identify a land feature of the Earth.”
Introducing young children to marvelous, fun facts about the world and discussing the relationships between people and places are important ways to create curious minds that stay life-long curious. A trio of themed “adventure” workbooks, Discover the Zoo Preschool Adventure Workbook, Explore the City Kindergarten Adventure Workbook, and Travel the World First Grade Adventure Workbook can help with that. Each pairs activities that focus on learning specific skills with fun activities that go along with them. Plus, the open sides of these tablet-style workbooks are great for left-handed kids, easy tear-off pages make great take-anywhere worksheets, and two pages of bold, bright, playful stickers add to the fun. The learning also extends beyond the covers of the books. For example, in the first grade workbook kids learn that “The argan goats can climb the argan trees to eat the fruit.” Mom and dad can guide them in learning more about the goats, the trees, and Morocco on the Internet or in the library!
Flipping open the pages of the Hidden Pictures Around the World Workbook, preschoolers and kindergartners find over 250 “little” pictures that await discovery inside rollicking bigger scenes, such as Festive Dragon Parade and Starlight Campout. See a wooly mammoth and its lively friends in Museum Exploration. Look more closely and other details emerge. In discovering the hidden objects, little ones also sharpen visual perception skills, eye-and coordination, and attention to detail.
The State of Confusion app, available for iOS and Android devices as well as Mac app and Windows download, can help inspire a love for and knowledge of our United States of America, while promoting social studies success! Start off learning key facts about the 50 states, including state capitals, state abbreviations, state flowers, state birds, state flags, and state nicknames. Next, put together a USA puzzle—a perfect game to learn state names, the location of each state, and which states are next to each other. Finally, test learning by selecting Quiz mode. It’s fun for the whole family and great for road trips.
Other resources that stretch kids’ borders include an online National Geographic Family Field Guide titled, “Teach Kids to Question Everything,” with question-based activities that can be accomplished in 5 minutes, 15 minutes, and 30 minutes. National Geographic also has a “Weird but True” collection of fun facts categorized by age. And Matt Rosenberg, posting to ThoughtCo, offers a wide range of ideas and activities at “Geography for Kids: Help Your Child Learn Geography with Kid-Friendly Resources.” Among them is a lovely video titled, “8 of Earth’s Most Colorful Places.”
The “Small World” song lyrics say, “There’s so much that we share, that it’s time we’re aware,” and now is the time to help kids learn more about the world they will one day help shape and influence.