A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
Helping Your Child Learn Geography - October 1996
Place: Physical and Human Characteristics
Every place has a personality. And, just like people, places may have a lot in common, but no two are exactly alike.
What makes a place special? What are the physical and human characteristics of your hometown? Is the soil sandy or rocky? Is the temperature warm or is it cold? Did important historical events occur there? Is it near a river or lake? What physical characteristics are most important or unique?
What about the people? How are they affected by the characteristics of place? Their language, style of government, architecture, industries--all define the special character of a place.
- Walk around your neighborhood and look at what makes it unique. Point out how it is similar to other places you have been and how it is different. Talk about what animals and plants live in your neighborhood. Look at the buildings and discuss their uses. Are there features designed to meet weather conditions, such as window shutters or sun rooms? Do the shapes of some buildings tell us how they were used in the past or how they are used now?
- If you live near a park, a lake, a river, a stream or a creek, take your children there and spend time talking about its uses. If you live near an historical site, visit it and talk about what happened there and why it's important. Look for other points of interest in your town and learn more about them.
- Read stories and books about distant places with your children. Many children's books provide vivid images of different places and a sense of what it would be like to live in them. A Country Far Away, Heidi, and Going for Oysters are examples of books about other parts of the world that have inspired many young readers. There is a list of resources at the end of this booklet, and your librarian will have additional suggestions.
- Use songs to teach geography. ``Home on the Range,'' "California, Here I Come," and "This Land Is Your Land" are all songs about place. Teach your children folk songs of different countries like ``La Cucaracha,'' ``London Bridge,'' and ``Dreidel, Dreidel, Dreidel.''
- With your children, see a movie or video which is set in a different land such as "The Lion King," "Treasure Island," or "A Little Princess."
- Talk with your children about the places these books, songs, and movies celebrate, find them on a map or globe, and discuss their mental picture of these places.
Climate very much affects the character of a place. The amount of sun or rain, heat or cold, the direction and strength of the wind, all determine such things as how people dress, how well crops grow, and the extent to which people will want to live in a particular spot. Join your children in observing weather conditions.
- Watch the weather forecast on television or read the weather map in the newspaper. Save the maps for a month or more. You can see changes over time and compare conditions over several weeks and seasons. Reading the weather map helps children observe changes in the local climate.
- Use a weather map to look up the temperatures of cities around the world and discover how hot each gets in the summer and how cold each gets in the winter. Compare these figures with your town. Ask your children if they can think of reasons why different locations have different temperatures. Many children enjoy finding the place that is the hottest or the coldest.
- Make simple weather-related devices such as barometers, pinwheels, and wind chimes (check at your local public library for how-to books of experiments). Watch cloud formations and make weather forecasts for your hometown.
[Location: Position on the Earth's Surface]
[ Relationships Within Places: Humans and Environments]