Top tips for home school geography

Whirligig Toys - Home School Geography

With all the pressures of home schooling, Geography is one area that can easily be left behind. At the moment, it is difficult to get out and experience the world and its wonders, but getting a view of the wider world has never been more important.

So, we’ve been looking at how you can make learning about the world and the people in it fun for everyone at home, by looking at games and toys that will support you. When the official lessons for the day have been completed and all the homework is done, these are fun activities that will extend the learning, whilst they may not even notice.

Whirligig Toys - Globe1
Whirligig Toys - Globe2

We’ve been looking at the National Curriculum for Key Stages 1 and 2 and picked out some key activities that we think will help. Each product is linked back to the National Curriculum documentation, showing you how you could incorporate this toy into your learning schedule, and hopefully giving you ideas on how you can use other toys that you already have.

We hope this gives you some inspiration and ideas – it doesn’t have to be a formal lesson, play is important too!

World Flick Golf

Build some of the most notable and iconic building of the human world and then turn them into a mini-golf course. Each building has tunnels, archways and ramps, so this is a great game that you can play and perfect your flicking skills.

But, where do these buildings exist? How far apart are they really? Which would be the best route if you wanted to visit them all? More importantly, why were they built and who uses them and why? These buildings are all part of our human landscape – discover more about them and you will be investigating all sorts of geographical features.

National Curriculum Link: use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied

Whirligig Toys World Flick Golf
Whirligig Toys - Costumes Of The World Dress Up1

Costumes of the World

Dress up the dolls to wear the traditional costumes – lots of mothers and daughters, each with press out and attach costumes featuring amazing colours, traditional fabrics and clothing that helps them to live where they do.

Which ones would you like to wear? What sort of temperature would be suitable for that costume? Could you do a job whilst you are wearing it? Discover each of these amazing costumes, find the country on the map and investigate why they are suitable for each place. Use fashion to discover the people who wear it.

National Curriculum Link: human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water

Who Lives In The Rainforest?

Which creatures will you find living in these amazing landscapes and what makes it perfect for them to live there and not here? This is a lovely colouring poster which folds out of the book, with amazing facts and details on the back to discover and learn.

Animals are always an easy way into geography – find out about their natural habitat, the temperatures that they need, the food that they eat and their natural predetors – all these facts add up to a great insight into a place in the world and can take you on many journeys.

National Curriculum Link: identify the position and significance of latitude, longitude, Equator, Northern Hemisphere, Southern Hemisphere, the Tropics of Cancer and Capricorn, Arctic and Antarctic Circle, the Prime/Greenwich Meridian and time zones (including day and night)

Whirligig Toys - Who Lives In The Rainforest1
Whirligig Toys - Red Riding Hood 1

Red Riding Hood Logic Game

How do you get to Grandma’s House? Place the road pieces together to make a route, but watch out for the wolf – he has to get their first. With 48 progressively more challenging levels, this game takes a well loved story and makes it into a game. Start by mapping the 2D picture onto the 3D board, make direction decisions and consider different options. What else should be on the map? how might Little Red get near the house?

Challenge children to create their own concept of a place – what would their map look like if she was coming to our house, or going to Grandma’s?

National Curriculum Link: use simple compass directions (North, South, East and West) and locational and directional language [for example, near and far; left and right], to describe the location of features and routes on a map

World Map

Follow in the footsteps of famous journeys as you plot your route across the world. With explorer flags, landmarks and animals to add to the picture, this interactive map will help you plan your own adventure.

Looking at maps is a great idea – spotting where their favourite animal lives, reading a story about an adventurer and their travels or just finding the tallest building, the biggest ocean, the deepest lake etc. Work out where they are and find out more before planning your own adventure.

National Curriculum Link: locate the world’s countries, using maps to focus on Europe (including the location of Russia) and North and South America, concentrating on their environmental regions, key physical and human characteristics, countries, and major cities

Whirligig Toys - Giant World Map
Whirligig Toys - The World Of Dinosaurs1

The World Of Dinosaurs

Lift the flaps and answer all the questions that you need to know the answers to. Where did these giants live, what did they feed on, what weather did they like best and what happened to them?

Piggybacking on a favourite topic, there is so much geography within dinosaurs – they live in a particular way in a particular place, by why there? What is there now? Would they be able to live there today? How would they cope?

National Curriculum Link: describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle

Travel Snap

Be the first to spot the same image and win. Now take it further – this time, you only win the cards if you can shout out the name of the country where you find this location, the nearest river to it, the contintent that it is within or the name of the language the people there may be speaking.

So many ways of using this pack of cards – you can do the same with any of our snap games, just think a little wider!

National Curriculum Link: use maps, atlases, globes and digital/computer mapping to locate countries and describe features studied

Whirligig Toys - Travel Snap1
Whirligig Toys - Deep Blue Sea1

Deep Blue Seascape

What lives in the ocean? What conditions are there thay make it perfect for different species? What a wonderful world to investigate – a large wall chart on one side which lots of animals to place a different depths, and a game on the other, all about the oceans.

Looking in detail at one type of environment tells you so much about the people and places around them and of course the impact that we are having on their space – time to look deep!

National Curriculum Link: describe and understand key aspects of physical geography, including: climate zones, biomes and vegetation belts, rivers, mountains, volcanoes and earthquakes, and the water cycle

Solar System Model

Create a working model of the solar system, using a solar panel to make everything move. Paint and decorate each planet and own the universe!

Whilst space officially comes under the science curriculum, there are so many geographical skills involved in mapping the night sky, identifying the changes, investigating why the Earth is able to support life and creating an understanding of your location in relation to others. Get out and observe!

National Curriculum Link: use fieldwork to observe, measure, record and present the human and physical features in the local area using a range of methods, including sketch maps, plans and graphs, and digital technologies

Whirligig Toys - Solar System Kit1
Whirligig Toys - Flags Of The World Jigsaw1

Flags Of The World Jigsaw

So many colours and shapes to discover, with a fascinating book that comes with it, perfect for a quiet afternoon.

Flags are little windows into different countries – why were these colours, these shapes and these symbols chosen? What is our flag all about and which ones can you memorise? Perfect to get them looking around the world and locating key coutries.

National Curriculum Link: human geography, including: types of settlement and land use, economic activity including trade links, and the distribution of natural resources including energy, food, minerals and water

Key tips and ideas:

We hope this selection has shown that geography is not just about learning facts and figures – it may have been when we went to school, but geography should ‘inspire in pupils a curiosity and fascination about the world and its people that will remain with them for the rest of their lives’. (National Curriculum)

If you are thinking about home school geography, or just want to explore the world through toys, here are our top tips:

  • toys and games are perfect starting points – get children to investigate around the edges and then change the rules once they know more about the place
  • find ways into places through familiar things – favourite animals, fascinating tales, famous people, stories in the news – it will make more sense and be far more interesting
  • the local area is just as important as the wider world – think about how you get from A to B, what you find along the way and why
  • create your own map based game on a magical or treasure island – you can still travel there – there are no restrictions
  • think about the wider context of the games you play – where did snakes and ladders originate from? (India), where do you find snakes? (everywhere) and what makes the perfect home for one?

We hope you have fun with both the formal, and informal, geography learning that you are involved with. Start an adventure!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *