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
Regions: How They Form and Change
How can places be described or compared? How can the Earth be divided into regions for study?
A region is an area that includes a number of places--all of which have something in common. Geographers categorize regions in two basic ways: physical and cultural. Physical regions are defined by landform (continents and mountain ranges), climate, soil, and natural vegetation. Cultural regions are distinguished by such traits as language, politics, religion, economics, and industry.
- Talk with your children about the difference between a region and a place, using the illustration below and other maps you might find helpful. Discuss the fact that regions vary in size. They can be as small as the neighborhood or as big as a territory that stretches for thousands of miles.
- Examine areas in your home. Is there an upstairs and a downstairs? Is there an eating area and a sleeping area? How are they like regions? Are there other ``regions'' in your home that can be described?
- Look at the physical region where you live. Some neighborhoods grew up around woods, hills, and valleys. Others developed around rivers, lakes, or oceans. What are the reasons your neighborhood was founded where it is?
- Visit libraries and museums. They have a wealth of books, magazines, and exhibits for children on other cultures and may present plays, movies, and puppet shows about people from different countries. Museums often have floor plans such as this one.
- Go on outings to different ethnic neighborhoods, as well as to multicultural events at the school or in the community. Also, visit the different residential, recreational, commercial regions of your city.
- Encourage your children to try foods from different countries whenever you go to multicultural events. Also, make different ethnic foods at home. Talk about what ingredients are characteristic of a particular area and why people eat different foods. For example, why do the Japanese eat so much seafood? Why is corn often used in Mexican dishes?
- Compare coins and stamps from other lands. They often contain information about the country. You may be able to find stamps from other countries where you work, or your children may get them from pen pals. Stamps tell a great deal about a country--from its political leadership to native bird life.
- Learn simple words in different languages. Teach your children to count to 10 in other languages. They can also learn simple words like "hello,'' "goodbye," and "thank you." Look at the different alphabets or script from various regions. All these activities expose children to the abundance of the Earth's cultural treasures. Many libraries have language tapes, books, and software--some especially for children.
- If you have friends who are from different countries or have either traveled or lived abroad, invite them over to talk with your children. If they have pictures, so much the better. What languages do they speak? How are their customs or dress similar to or different from yours?
- Make geography fun by tying it to ethnic holiday themes. Have your children dress up in regional or ethnic clothes. Some museums and libraries provide clothes children can borrow. Holidays are an opportunity to learn about the customs of people around the world. You can use the library to discover how other people celebrate special days.
[Movement: People Interacting on the Earth]