Tuesday, June 9, 2009

How to Improve at Geography

Step 1: Get a nasty cold.

Step 2: Keep the cold for at least a week, long enough to be frantic for any distraction you can find that involves sitting still so you're less likely to cough your lungs out.

(Steps 1 and 2 can be left out if for some reason you'd rather proceed directly to step 3.)

Step 3: While dawdling away time on the computer, play the geography game at FreeRice. (The default game is English Vocabulary, but click on "Change Subjects" and you can choose "Identify Countries on the Map." Thanks to Harmony for telling me about this great web site!)

Step 4: Discover that your geographical knowledge is not so great. Luckily, this is a multiple-choice game, and your guesses are often pretty good. But you are not satisfied with this. No, you want to know where those countries are instead of getting the same ones wrong all the time and dropping back down to the lowest level of play.

Step 5: By chance, discover some more geography games listed on another web site.

Step 6: Try the fill-in-the-map games at JetPunk.

Step 7: Download the free software for the simple but helpful game Seterra and marvel at what a great resource it will be for the kids. When you're done with it, that is. Play it numerous times to work on your weak areas. (Oceania and Africa and Asia . . . and Europe . . . and Central America . . . oh, just work on everything like I had to do.)

Step 8: Now you can reign supreme over at FreeRice. That wimpy little multiple-choice game doesn't have a chance against you. But wait -- what is this? You find The Traveler IQ Challenge. Scroll down and look condescendingly at the world map. You know those countries now, or most of them, anyway. With a confident click, start the challenge.

Step 9: Quickly realize that this is a whole different level of geography game. It's timed, and you have to answer fast or lose your chance. It asks you to pinpoint cities and landmarks rather than just countries. It measures the distance between your answer and the correct location. It gives you a "Traveler IQ" score at the end. It's awesome.

Step 10: Spend the next week obsessively trying to improve your score. Revisit the other geography games, but for serious training this time. Try to get all those tiny countries that start with "B" straight. (Bhutan, Bahrain, Burundi, Benin...)

Step 11: As your cold finally starts to go away, notice the blank Africa map on your homeschool bulletin board. Realize that you now know the names of ALL of those countries (except maybe those little "B"s), and the rough locations of major cities in a few of them. Look at the world map on the wall. Recognize countries that until a week ago, you had heard about on the news but weren't even sure which continent they were on.

Step 12: Like a total-nerd-and-proud-of-it, put your Traveler IQ score on your blog (in the right-hand sidebar).

Step 13: Play some more. Every time you get even 1 point higher, update your blog badge. You must be feeling good about this new knowledge or something.

Step 14: When the kids beg to have a turn playing the geography games too, graciously allow them to do so, in moderation. Notice how they start to comment on the Africa map during meals. Tell them some of the islands you're still working on learning, and watch them run to the world map to find them for you. Realize that your guilt over not doing much geography this year in home school is melting right away.

Step 15: Very important: Don't forget to keep practicing so your score can stay ahead of the kids'!


Harmony said...

LOL! I don't have a cold (or any other good excuse), but I saw your IQ on your sidebar and wasted an entire hour playing, only to get up to 112.

You're welcome for the freerice tip. My 8-year-old loves it and begged his 2nd grade teacher to let him play it at school. No dice! He'd have a little more luck if he were home schooled...

Kelly said...

That's awesome Tamary. I'm going to check out these web sites and let my kids play.

You made me laugh today. Thank you!

Arborist said...

My favorite site for learning geography is www.sheppardsoftware.com. The games step you gently through mastery--starting with breaking the continents down into regions. Make sure you use Internet Explorer, though, because the site stopped working on Firefox for some reason. :(