Although they don't know it, this mother is helping her children learn geography. The children are beginning to understand the nature of the world and their place in it. The acorn was not on the ground a month ago. It's new on this trip! Acorns fall from trees that grow in their neighborhood, and that means fall is coming. When they pick up the acorn or leaves, they make the ground neater. The squirrel lives here too, and runs and jumps in a special way that children can imitate in their own homes. Cars move people from one place to another; and mailboxes move information. Cars and street signs use symbols or pictures that tell people where they are, or where they are from. The neighborhood is divided into regions--some for houses, some for stores.
Young children learn through their senses and experiences. They touch, feel, smell, and taste things. They run and jump and climb. They play imaginary games, and they ask a million questions. In an everyday walk these children are beginning to understand how people relate to the Earth, how they change the environment, how weather changes the character of a place, and how one place relates to another through the movement of people, things, and ideas. Children's everyday play and experiences give them the basis for the geographic knowledge that they will learn in school. With just a little encouragement and some direction, young children will develop the vocabulary, awareness, and curiosity that will help them better understand and learn geography.
With this book we hope you as parents will get ideas that will use your children's play to help them learn more geography--the study of the Earth and its human, animal, and plant population. Most of the suggestions in this book are geared to children from 2 to 5 years of age. Parents of children with disabilities can use the activities in this book, although some may have to be adapted. Keep in mind that all youngsters vary widely in their development. Children may find any of the activities appropriate.
The activities and games are organized around five specific themes that help focus our thinking. These themes were developed by professional geographers and are now being used in many schools. They are:
Each chapter begins with some background, examples of questions geographers ask, and some explanations of the early developmental skills that are involved. Next, there are two sets of activities--one for children ages 2 to 3 and a second set for children ages 4 to 5. These activities will help children gain the skills that lay the foundation for the study of geography.