If you have a child who learns best by touching, feeling, and doing, you likely have a tactile learner. These kids learn best with physical activity — movement, building, drawing . . . anything but sitting still at a desk with a workbook.
Whether your student is in kindergarten or high school, it will serve him (and you, as his teacher) well to incorporate opportunities for physical activity throughout the homeschool day. Thankfully, this was a lesson I learned very early on in our own homeschool. Nothing much was going to keep my son from moving, so it was either figure out a way to help him learn while moving, or lose the opportunity to educate him well.
Adding tactile learning can happen for every subject if you are creative enough, even writing, but today I want to give you some ideas for how to do so with geography. Geography is a subject that lends itself well to tactile learning if you are not afraid to step outside of the box (or get a little messy). Here are some ideas for how to teach geography to tactile learners.
Everyone loves learning with games. There are many options out there for board games, apps for tablets, and online games that will give your students tactile stimulation while they learn geography. A few of our favorites include:
Seterra (free online game)
Sheppard Software (more online geography games)
Risk (a strategy game with focus on the world/political maps)
Scrambles States (a fun board game, based on the book of the same name)
Google Earth (explore the world virtually)
Maps, Globes, and Travel Guides
Did you know you can order state maps and travel guides from all of the United States for free? There are many ways you can use these maps. For example:
- Design a scavenger hunt for a state you are studying by giving your student a list of interesting places to learn about and then find on the map.
- Cut pieces from the maps of all 50 states, with clues to the state, and have your student match the state to the clues.
- Have you student use travel guides to design a travel brochure for the the state or country he is studying
- Have your student plan a virtual vacation based on a topic of interest (hiking, museums, water sports, historical monuments, famous people, food)
- Simply have your child place his finger gently against a globe, close his eyes and spin the globe. Wherever the globe stops becomes the next focus of learning. Read about the city/state/country, make a salt dough map, calculate the distance from that place to where you live, plan a vacation, including the best way to travel there, and make a dish from that country. Or just get this Smart Globe and let it and its app tell you everything you ever wanted to know!
- Choose a place on the map and then track the weather for a week. Or just track an interesting weather system (tornado, hurricane, snowstorm) in the news.
Here’s a list of where to order maps and travel guides >> State Maps and Travel Guides
Field trips are always a great way to teach tactile learners, and the options are endless for how to do so. Geography is much more than learning about the location of a city, state, or country. It encompasses other areas as well, such as climate, weather, physical features, people, and culture. A few field trip ideas might include:
- Your state’s history museum
- A walking tour of your city (or a city you’re visiting)
- Local factory tours
- A trip to your local TV or radio station to meet the meteorologist
Check out this list of field trip ideas >> Homeschooling by the Field Trip Method
Notebooking (or lapbooking for younger students) is a great way for your students to learn and also to create a portfolio of that learning. Using a simple binder with dividers, your student can create one giant notebook for all of the states or an entire continent.
For a simple way to do this kind of project, check out the USA State Study Notebooking Bundle, If you wish to purchase the pack, use this link and the code benandmeUSA for a 25% discount. This is the recommended resource for my unit study series on the U.S. states, Notebooking Across the USA.
Depending on the ages of your students, you might just buy a simple puzzle of the United States (or whichever country you live), or one of the world, and just leave them opportunity to work on the puzzle. This will help them learn where places are in relationship to each other and the world, state and country names, and capital cities.
If you have highschoolers like us though, you’ll want to challenge them a little more than a basic puzzle of the United States. We highly recommend the 4D Cityscape USA History Over Time Puzzle. Ben recently received this puzzle, and has had a great time putting it together (even Dad got in on this one).
This isn’t your everyday, ordinary, run-of-the-mill puzzle of the U.S. First of all, it’s a puzzle for older kids, which is nice, because finding puzzles for puzzle-loving high schoolers isn’t always a simple feat. Creating a puzzle for teens means that there are some must-have features. For example, the puzzle needs to be more complex.
The 4D Cityscape puzzle is a layered puzzle with 806 cardboard pieces that create the bottom layer of the puzzle (the territorial expansions of the 18th and 19th centuries). Each territory is like a puzzle within a puzzle, and then they all connect together to form the base of the entire puzzle. The next layer contains 65 foam pieces that are meant to overlay the first layer. These pieces comprise the modern states and mountain ranges. Your student will work this part of the puzzle in chronological order of statehood.
The third layer is comprised of nearly 100 3-D historical buildings and monuments, such as the St. Louis Arch, Statue of Liberty, and Washington Monument. We were excited to see the historical Louisville Water Tower, which incidentally is the oldest ornamental water tower in the world. We had no idea! The puzzle includes a poster that guides your student along the historical timeline and to where to place the 3-D pieces. These pieces snap into the foam ones. The finished puzzle measures about 26″ x 17″ x 2.5″ tall.
This video will help you visualize it better than I can explain it. I want you to really see how wonderful this puzzle is!
In Ben’s words:
I enjoyed the challenge of building this puzzle. It was also very educational and put the territorial purchases in context for me. It was also fun after it was finished to see at a glance where all of the monuments and historical buildings were located.
Whether you have kids who usually love putting puzzles together, or maybe some who generally find them boring, we think everyone in your family (even the grown-ups) will love the challenge and interesting design of this one.
While your bright middle schoolers will likely enjoy putting together this puzzle, trust me when I say it is more than challenging enough for your high schooler as well. In fact, the recommended age level is 14+.