Making Geography Fun

Whether you love or hate geography, we all have to know how to get from point A to point B, how to read a map, how to understand others’ perceptions, and to value each other’s cultures. Geography is important so let’s make learning FUN.

Topics Discussed

  • The benefits of making geography fun
  • Why you’ll want to incorporate unusual, weird facts
  • Our tried and true fun activities for learning geography

Related Episodes

  • Episode 16 about beach balls
  • Episode 27 about integrating social studies and literature

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Brittany 0:00

Hey Ellie, did you know that Honduras ranks second to only Australia? For the amount of coral reefs that has?

Ellie 0:10

I did not know that. That is very surprising to me.

Brittany 0:15

Welcome to the teaching Toolbox Podcast. I'm Brittany, and I'm here with Ellie.

Ellie 0:21


Brittany 0:22

Today we're talking all about ways to make geography more engaging, memorable, and just plain fun.

Ellie 0:29

Ooh, I like fun. So there are several benefits to making geography fun. First of all, it helps students develop a deeper understanding and appreciation of the world around them. When you're having fun, you remember things better. By engaging with geography in a fun and interactive way, students are more likely to remember key concepts and information. Making geography enjoyable can also spark curiosity, and a sense of wonder about different cultures, environments and global issues. This can lead to increased interest in current events, travel, and even future career paths related to geography. And third, by making geography fun, educators are laying the foundation for a lifelong love of learning and exploration. One way you can make geography more fun is to incorporate unusual facts or ideas about certain places.

Brittany 1:25

Teach the weird facts. Don't just do one search on Google. Dig deeper. Some unusual things you can do is like where's the giant ball of yarn? It's in Minnesota, by the way, where's the deepest trench? It's in the Atlantic Ocean. Where's the largest oasis? Go ahead, Ellie.

Ellie 1:47

No, no, I was gonna ask if that was the Mariana Trench, but I wasn't sure

Brittany 1:50

you are correct.

Ellie 1:51


Brittany 1:53

I don't know where the largest Oasis is. By the way.

Ellie 1:56

I don't either. We would have to look that up.

Brittany 1:58

Very good. Yes. And see things like that. It'll cause kids to research because they'll start asking those kinds of questions. Do the research do weird things that kids will remember some weird facts that might help along the way. The Dead Sea, located between Jordan and Israel is one of the saltiest bodies of water on Earth, making it almost impossible for plants and animals to thrive in its waters.

The Donna keel depression in Ethiopia is one of the hottest and lowest places on earth. temperatures reach up to 50 degrees Celsius, That's 122 degrees Fahrenheit.

Ellie 2:43


Brittany 2:44

It sits at 100 meters below sea level. It's where three tectonic plates meet. And it's also the area in which the fossil of Lucy was found. This place is awesome to learn about salt and lava lakes, volcanoes, neon acid springs, those are all sure to keep students attention.

Ellie 3:07

Yeah, it makes me want to go look it up right now. You know and learn more about that.

The Door to Hell and Turkmenistan, also known as Darvaza Gas Crater, or the shining of Carrick comm is a natural gas field that has been burning continuously since 1971. Creating a fiery crater that looks like a portal to the underworld. And this actually reminds me of a town here in Pennsylvania Centralia that has a coal seam fire that has been burning underneath it in the mazes of the abandoned coal mines since at least the early 1960s.

Brittany 3:47

We actually have the same thing here in Colorado Springs. Abandoned coal mines under the city have been slowly burning since the 70s. Just waiting to collapse like Whole neighborhoods.

Ellie 3:59

Wow. Yeah, I think I looked up Centralia and the population is now four, four people are there no one else is allowed to live there. At one point in time. I think they said that the people who or there could stay but they could not then sell their houses or pass their houses on to anyone else, like no new residents were allowed. So there's four people that live there now. It's like the gases are really bad.

Brittany 4:24

Ours must be deeper because we were in a town of a million and they haven't done anything about it.

Ellie 4:32

Yeah. Then we have the Great Blue Hole in Belize, which is a giant marine sinkhole that is over 300 meters across and 125 meters deep, which attracts divers from around the world to explore its depths it is actually where many divers travel to get their scuba diving certification.

Brittany 4:50

The town of longyear ruin in Norway experiences polar night from November to February where the Sunday does not rise above the horizon for over four months?

Ellie 5:04


Brittany 5:04

There's no way I could

Ellie 5:05

I don't think I could do that.

Brittany 5:07

I have seasonal affective disorder as it is. The white desert in Egypt is known for its unique rock formations that resemble mushrooms, chicken, and other strange shapes created by years of erosion and wind.

Ellie 5:23

I'm sure students would love to get a look at that.

Brittany 5:25


Ellie 5:27

Mount Thor on the Baffin islands and Canada has the world's greatest vertical drop at 1200 50 meters, making it a popular spot for extreme climbers seeking a challenging a sense. I bet this is where they like to do those freefall parachute drops, since it has a 15 degree overhang. I don't think I could do that. That's scary.

And then we have the blood falls in Antarctica, which get their eerily red color from iron rich underground saltwater that oxidizes upon contact with the air, creating a really striking contrast against the white, white icy landscape.

Brittany 6:04

Some other ways that you could make geography fun is occasionally test your countries and capitals orally, don't always do them on paper.

Ellie 6:14

Yeah, that's a good idea. You could also use beach balls for different geography things. Have you used beach balls in social studies class? Brittany?

Brittany 6:23

Yes, I put different geography questions on them. And then we throw them around. Cool, just like we talked about in that beach ball episode.

Ellie 6:31

Oh, right. Right. Gonna go back and link that in the show notes. So we can get some more beach ball ideas there.

Brittany 6:37

You can create maps of different regions and countries and areas and even bodies of water.


Ellie 6:46

You could create bookmarks with all the unusual facts for one country.

Brittany 6:50

You can go on virtual field trips with Google Earth or National Geographic, you can have competitions, for who can find the weirdest thing on Google Earth.

Ellie 6:59

Yeah, you could have other geography themed games or competitions like using geo guesser or slugterra or worldle tongue twister for me,

Brittany 7:10

that's a tough one.

You can do outdoor explorations, take a nature walk around your neighborhood, and observe local geography around the school.

Ellie 7:22

We used to do that. Always a good time. You can use storytelling using stories and myths from various regions of the world.

Brittany 7:31

You can have guest speakers or travelers you can share experiences. I know when I did my student teaching, I had returned Peace Corps volunteers come in to the classroom, and they are still available today for free. And they will come in and talk to your students about the places they've been to and the cultures they've experienced.

Ellie 7:51

Wow, that's a great idea. You can integrate geography into literature, like using the Long Walk to Water, which we talked about in episode 27.

Brittany 8:03

Talk about current events and how they relate to geography.


Ellie 8:08

You can incorporate geography bees, we had those in our sixth grade classes. They started in sixth grade, and it was sixth, seventh, and eighth. And we would have first like a team wide geography bee and get a winner from every homeroom I think it was, and then maybe from every team, and then it went to all of the team winners in the school competing with each other.

Brittany 8:32

We did the ours were by classroom, and we did an individual contest, got a winner per classroom. And then had those winners go up against each other for a winner for the school. And then there was a written test, I think was the next level.

Ellie 8:50

Yeah, I think that's what ours did as well. It's always a good time. And I love listening. I love sitting in the audience for the geography, trying to you know, see which ones I know which one answers I know which answers I don't and then learn some of the things from that.


Brittany 9:04

Yeah, I actually led the geography I was the one who ran it

Ellie 9:08


Brittany 9:09

at our school. So it was a lot of fun. You can also use unusual maps to bring awareness of other ideas and perceptions. For instance, did you know that in the southern hemisphere, South is on the top of their maps?

Ellie 9:24

No, I did not.

Brittany 9:26

Because the North is not important to them. It's the south

Ellie 9:29


Brittany 9:30

And I actually had a southern tarp map in my classroom. And the kids would always go your map is wrong. And I would go no, it's not the words aren't upside down.

Ellie 9:42


Brittany 9:43

The words are correctly and they it really helped them open their eyes. And in Islamic countries East is at the top of the map.

Ellie 9:53


Brittany 9:53

So the map is totally different. It's portrait style.

Ellie 9:57

I have to look that up. Yeah, I haven't seen those


You could also use old versions of maps from before they had proper tools, or before the world was totally explored. And you can look at the differences between then and now.


Yeah, that's really interesting to look at. All right, so we have a lot of weird facts for you today and a lot of different ways that you can incorporate different activities into your geography instruction. And whether you love or hate geography, we all have to know how to get from point A to point B, how to read a map, how to understand others perceptions and to value each other's cultures. Our world is rapidly changing due to the way we treat it and each other, so we might as well make them knowledge button.


We hope this episode gave you a few new ideas you can add to this aspect of your teaching toolbox. If you found this episode helpful, please screenshot it and share it on your favorite platform. Don't forget to tag us. We'll see you next time.



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