TeachersFirst's Geography Awareness and Exploration Resources
There are many ways to view and learn about our world: maps, statistics, photographs, narratives, interactive navigation systems, and mobile apps. Exploring geography and seeing relationships between natural resources, maps, landforms, climate, and human activity can seem overwhelming. TeachersFirst's editors selected these "editors choice" resources to inspire interest and explorations of world geography in any classroom from kindergarten through high school. If you would like to see more, try browsing our full database of resources appropriate for learning geography or use our keyword search (at the left of this page) to search a specific geography term. Use the keyword search options and filter by grade level to narrow your choices.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomVisualizing data and creating maps just became easier for teachers and students. Help your students understand current events worldwide by creating a map and embedding it on your classroom website or learning management system. For example, use maps in science to track migration patterns, explore climates, or map weather events. Teachers of students aged 13+ years can have students create and edit maps in real-time from anywhere. Build upon your student's knowledge by adding layers to your maps to show new information. Teachers of younger students can create maps for student viewing to map a story or show animal habitats.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomBookmark and save this site for many purposes for geography lessons and lessons about indigenous people worldwide. Engage students in learning by finding indigenous people who lived in or near your location and then exploring the provided links to learn more about their way of life. Instead of using paper and pencil for suggested journal activities, use Telegra.ph, reviewed here to create simple websites that include student writing and images. Extend learning by asking students to create podcasts using Buzzsprout, reviewed here. Share podcasts that feature information about different indigenous tribes or focus on one tribe through a series of podcasts that discuss the land they lived on, their lifestyle, and the history of the tribe.
Grades5 to 12
In the ClassroomBouncyMaps is an excellent way to help students visualize large numbers and provide perspective to data. Use the embed code found on the site to share on your webpage or download images and data using the provided links. Start a discussion using one of the regular maps and hover over countries to show details. After reviewing a standard map, switch to the BouncyMap to show how it changes based on data. This site is an excellent one to share with students to explore during computer centers or at home. After allowing students time to look on their own, ask them to choose one map that surprised them and discuss their findings. Ask them to research the information further with the goal of trying to learn why there are such differences between countries. When finished, ask students to share their findings by creating an infographic using Canva Infographic Maker, reviewed here. When teaching world history, these maps provide context when teaching about major conflicts. For example, when teaching about tensions in the Middle East, refer students to the religious maps to help them understand how different populations of Jewish people and Muslims within that area are key to the conflicts.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomExplore this site together as a class or allow students time to explore on their own. Select maps that correspond to your current teaching units; for example, when teaching about the Civil War, browse through many maps related to that time period and slavery. Save several examples in a Padlet collection, reviewed here, and ask students to analyze the map features and how they might be used to influence and persuade others. Have students create webpages to share their discussions on the features of persuasive maps using an easy website creation tool such as Carrd, reviewed here. Ask students to use the download link provided with each image to download the image and share it on their webpage. Enhance learning further by using digital annotation tools to add text, videos, and additional information to the downloaded image using Google Drawings, reviewed here, then embed the Google Drawing image on the webpage along with other student work. Extend learning further by asking students to think of other examples used in modern times to persuade and influence options such as infographics, social media posts, and commercials. Watch an archived OK2Ask session to learn how to use: OK2Ask Google Drawings, here.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this game on your interactive whiteboard and play together as a class. It is an excellent way to practice and reinforce skills in locating cities around the world. Create different options for students to use as a challenge, such as find the largest or smallest population you can create with five different cities, using ten cities that come as close to a population total of 10 million (or some other number) or use only state capitals to come close to a target number of the total population. After playing the different games, ask students to select one location they identified on a map and further research it. Have them share their findings by creating a digital book using Book Creator, reviewed here.
Grades6 to 12
In the ClassroomUse this globe in your classroom as a conversation starter on geography around the world. Before opening up the linked area on this interactive globe, challenge students to identify the location or share their ideas on why that location is considered extreme. Enhance learning by using this site as a model for students to create their own maps that highlight areas of interest or "extreme" places within your state or country using Google My Maps, reviewed here. For more advanced students, share the blog linked in the "About this globe" portion. The blog shares the steps used to code and create this interactive globe. Extend learning by challenging students to create their own 3D globe using Sketchup, reviewed here, that highlights locations and features around the world that relate to your current lessons.
Grades7 to 12
In the ClassroomThese maps are perfect for use on an interactive whiteboard. If you are teaching World War I, these maps need to be among your "go to" bookmarks for illustrating important highlights about the War. Consider also providing a link to the maps as part of materials students can access to learn more, as extra challenge, or for independent or group projects. The maps illustrating important technology first used in World War I will fascinate students who enjoy learning how things work. Have students create a multimedia presentation about the aspects of WWI that fascinate them most.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomShare this tool and compare locations on your interactive whiteboard or projector as you study geography, economics, or government. Ask students what items are important to look at in a city where they plan to live. Then ask them the same thing about a city where they plan to vacation. Have students make online "tours" to compare their choice of three cities using Google Jamboard, reviewed here. Share cities as part of a world language class to discuss the economic and statistical differences in different cultures. Use data from this site in math classes for students to compare, contrast, and manipulate real world data.
GradesK to 12
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In the ClassroomUse Free Map Tools to add interest to any social studies or math lessons. Learn about area in math by locating homes or businesses on the map, and determining the area that would need to be shoveled during each winter. Find the distance between any two points (home and the pizza place?) and compare that distance to actual driving distance. Want to know what is directly underneath you on the globe? Have students make a prediction. Then use the Map Tunneling Tool to find out if the predictions were correct. Use throughout the year for any number of purposes! You will want to share this one on your class web page for quick access when questions come up.
Grades8 to 12
In the ClassroomA great classroom discussion starter, and perfect for displaying on an interactive whiteboard, the Better Life Index allows students to consider and debate what makes for a "better life." And once (or if) they can reach a consensus on those factors, where could that life be found in the world? Of course, once you discover that people are healthiest, for example, in Australia, what does that mean? Why are they healthy there? What community, government, and institutional factors make Australia healthy? Do they make choices other countries don't? This is a wonderful tool for guiding discussion about the public policy decisions made by citizens and governments, and how those decisions affect the quality of life. It would also provide powerful information for persuasive writing or debates. If you talk about utopias and dystopias, this is another way for students to decide what the criteria are for each. If you study world cultures, this site can provide a whole different lens to promote crosscultural understanding. Assign students to compare and contrast factors that matter most to them across multiple countries. Gifted students who are designing an "ideal civilization" can find meaningful data here to use as part of their plans.
Grades4 to 12
In the ClassroomIf you teach geography, this one is a must. It is also helpful for showing students WHERE a story or news event takes place. Teach map skills by letting students explore and annotate their own community. This site is great on an interactive whiteboard or projector. Create multiple markers for various points within your community. Annotate the markers with specific information that students research. Remember to create an admin password (and save it somewhere safe!) for others to collaborate on the map. Research various places around the world, and create markers of must-see places, historical finds, and other locations of interest. Create a map of news hot spots around the world. In Biology, find places where environmental or biodiversity concerns are occurring. Collaborate on a map to include annotated information of student research about these problems. Create a map to introduce various cultures around the world. Enter video, audio, information, and links that students can use to "uncover" the content to be learned.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomUse this resource when discussing various animal units or a unit on behavior. When discussing a country or culture in history, consider playing various soundscapes to identify with the culture. Be sure to provide this link for students when reporting on a culture in front of the class. Students can play the soundscapes while presenting information on the culture (turn up your speakers!). Compare different types of animals around the world. Use an online tool such as Interactive Two Circle Venn Diagram, reviewed here, to compare two different types of animals. Students can brainstorm similarities and differences and follow this activity with research into the various species. In lower grades, play soundscapes during classroom read-alouds about the animals or places in the recording. Make the Soundscapes site a listening/writing center in your elementary science classroom and ask your young scientists to describe what they hear as they learn about making observations as scientists.
Grades4 to 6
In the ClassroomUse this site as a learning station or center. Allow students to play on your interactive whiteboard. Use Google Maps to locate countries and their capitals after trying the activity. Challenge students to increase accuracy percentages and number of correct answers per minute. Encourage your students to learn more about geography with Globetracker's Mission.
Grades3 to 7
In the ClassroomUse this site as an introduction to longitude and latitude. Share the activity on your interactive whiteboard or projector. Ask students to find coordinates for other locations on this map. If the music is distracting, click the little speaker icon to turn it off.
Grades3 to 12
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In the ClassroomAsk each student to choose a country to compare to their country of origin. Have students pair up with a partner and compare their chosen countries to the country of origin. Tie in a creative writing project, and have students imagine that they are moving from their country of origin to their chosen country. Students can use the information and comparison as inspiration for their fictional story about what life would be like in their new home. Use the statistical data in If it Were My Home for some real world mathematical comparison between countries. Create infographics to compare the two countries using a tool such as Venngage, reviewed here.
GradesK to 12
In the ClassroomGo beyond state "reports" to state experiences by encouraging students to select independent reading books. Looking for more information about the states? For history, economics, facts, famous people, and sights to see in each state, try TeachersFirst's 50 States, the perfect complement to these independent reading selections. Even younger students would enjoy a "tour" of the states using some of the easier books on this list. Maybe have a read-aloud tour featuring one or two states per week throughout the school year.
GradesK to 10
In the ClassroomBuild student literacy skills, reinforce what students are learning about maps, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior (classroom!) knowledge. Share this link on your class web page or wiki so students can select independent reading books to accompany your unit on maps. Don't forget to share the list with the school and local libraries so they can bring in some of the books on interlibrary loan. CurriConnects are a great help for teachers who have lost school library/media specialists due to budget cuts.
GradesK to 10
In the ClassroomBuild student literacy skills, reinforce what students are learning about Geography, and help students build the important reading strategy of connecting what they read to prior (classroom!) knowledge. Share this link on your class web page or wiki so students can select independent reading books to accompany your unit on Geography. Don't forget to share the list with the school and local libraries so they can bring in some of the books on interlibrary loan. CurriConnects are a great help for teachers who have lost school library/media specialists due to budget cuts.
Grades2 to 6
In the ClassroomSee "Lesson Ideas" from the Teacher Edition page for a complete list of ways to use this creative unit with younger students, on laptops with student partners, or as semi-independent work. Be sure to share the link on your teacher web page for students to share at home (or check on the next episode, if they can't wait!).
Encourage parents to join the fun on the mission by sharing the suggestions listed under "Parent Info."