This post shares lots of hands on geography activities which are perfect to use along with any history unit studies. Over the years we have studied many cultures, from ancient history all the way up to modern history and everything in between. Having a great set of geography activities to choose from is vital for the smooth running of any history unit. Most are hands on, which should appeal to children young and old.
Make a Map
Making a map of the area you are studying is a given. But did you know there are lots of ways to create a map, some more fun (and tastier) than others!
We almost always make a paper mache map. Sometimes these are small but more often they span the whole length and breadth of the table. The bigger the better, I think, because we can add so much more to a bigger map. Great for memory retention 😁
Check out my video on how to make a paper mache map:
Create a Diorama
I used to love creating shoebox scenes when I was little, so getting to do the more ‘grown-up sounding’ diorama design is perfect for me! The children love it as well, so as far as hands on geography activities go, this one is a winner!
Dioramas don’t need to be small, although I think maybe the fun is in the smallness. Dioramas are great for project based learning, which tends to be more student led than parent led.
Design a Flag
Using all they have learnt about a particular country or culture, your children could design a flag which best represents the people. We use Canva to do this, which is completely free. You could also just draw a large rectangle, and let them draw their design.
Build a Famous Landmark
We have really enjoyed learning about famous landmarks of a particular country or culture. Building Stone Henge was challenging both mathematically and with regards to its construction. How much harder would it have been when building with huge boulders?
We also built the Anglo-Saxon burial at Sutton Hoo, using PlayMobil. These types of hands on reconstructions help to consolidate learning and also make it more realistic in their minds.
Map Out Travels of Well Known Explorers
Learning about explorers has been one of my favourite things to go along with a history unit. From Marco Polo travelling across Asia, to the Vikings making their way to Briton and probably my favourite, learning about all the Antarctic explorers during the Edwardian times.
I love a great explorer study, and these giant maps are just perfect! The map on the right was an old used paper table cloth which we got a few more miles out of by painting a map of the world on.
Make a Postcard
Another fun activity which demonstrates a child’s understanding of important landmarks or people in history. One great way to create a postcard is to paste a landmark, let’s say a picture of the colosseum if you were studying Ancient Rome. Then carefully cut out a photo of your child and stick that on top of the landmark.
The child can then write out the postcard(s) on the back as a means of journalling their learning. The above postcards were created digitally in Canva. With Canva pro (a paid subscription) you can edit out the background of any photo, allowing you to superimpose a photo of a child over a photo of a landmark. And your children learn some important editing skills to boot!
Other Hands On Geography Activities
- Having taught about a country or civilisation, use Google Earth to visualise all the geographical landmarks. I did this with my children throughout their history units. Sometimes you can teach things and even show the children pictures of those things. But when you have the earth in sight and then Google Earth zooms in on an area, it brings it alive in a very tangible way.
- Learn about the wonders of the world and the wonders of the ancient world.
- Create land formations from clay and blue water. I know I have done this with my children but I can’t find it anywhere on my blog 🤨
- Your children could make a travel brochure or a town guide for the area which they are learning about.
- Making a board game which encompasses all the geographical facts they need to learn is a great way to consolidate their learning. We made a board game when we were learning about the Trojan War (not geographical, I know, but it was a great learning experience!)
- Sometimes, for family night, we play ‘Who Am I?”. This is where each of us stick an unknown (to us) name of a person on our forehead and then ask questions to discover who we are. You could play a similar game, but a ‘Where Am I?” version. Each person asks questions to find out the name of the place stuck to their forehead.
- Make up a play passport to stamp the places the child learns about. Not very educational perhaps, but lots of fun!