Saturday, January 24, 2009

Blank Map - How Well Do You Know Your World?

By Ferdinand Mekinsy

Maps are one of those primary types of information resources that we all count on like the phone book or the dictionary. But there is something elegant about a map that elevates it above just a way to see where stuff is. It isnt unusual to see maps presented artistically as wall hangings in homes or even in museums. Maps appeal the organizational side of us. When you look at a map, the quiet message is that the world was not an orderly place but now it is. And as civilized people, that comforts us.

Have you ever seen one of those TV shows where little children are interviewed about world leaders or global events? The idea is to get children to say cute things because they dont understand the world world. Its a fun idea but it points to one of the failings of our educational system which is how deficient we are in teaching geography and global affairs to children or youth at any level of our educational system.

While its ok for kids to be cute on TV, more and more teachers at the elementary school level are detecting ways to introduce concepts of geography and global affairs into the classroom at previous ages. Part of the problem is learning to make lessons in the organization of countries around the world fun and interesting to young minds. In many cases easy tools like blank world maps can give teachers a lot to go on to make world geography interesting to the kids.

When a teacher introduces a blank world map or just a part of the world with the countries showing but no details, the children instantly acknowledge that as a game. And while it is a challenging educational method, it is the challenge aspect of learning what countries are which works well to capture the attention of the students either in the classroom or at home. One way that teachers can use world maps that are blank to get children working is to send home a game to be played with parents called "name that country". When the children lay out a blank map and it is a family project to provide the details that the blank map worksheet is asking for, kids get a kick out of it when even parents stumble with this kind of assignment.

When the children return to class, the same blank map work sheets can be used as teaching tools. With the incentive of learning to out perform mom and dad, children often begin to excel at quick spot games about the countries on the blank template and where it is in the global as well the names of key cities and other significant landmarks. This is a "painless" and fun way to get the children used to understanding and getting a firm knowledge of world geography and affairs. From that base of knowledge then, political theory and foreign relations can be taught without the big words. But the children become urbane pretty fast which grooms them for advanced studies in later years in school very well.

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