International Relations

Ultimate Guide to Online Geography Resources for Educators




Ultimate Guide to Online Geography Resources for Educators

Geography is not only the study of where places are in the world but also the study of people and their social and physical surroundings. Acquiring the knowledge of the values, concepts and skills needed to understand our relationships to the earth and to other peoples in the world is imperative and starts from an early age in educational settings.

Geography is important for students to learn, starting at a young age, because it provides them with perspective on diversity—that nations and people differ yet have similarities.

It’s also one of the most engaging subjects for students, as there are many interactive lessons and resources for teachers to utilize and apply in their classrooms. From having students name and locate all of the state capital cities on a map to learning about a foreign nation’s political system, geography can be made fun and engaging for students by applying the lesson plans below.

Promising careers for students who pursue geography include the following options:

  • Cartographer
  • Commercial/residential surveyor
  • Environmental consultant
  • Geographical information systems officer
  • Planning and development surveyor
  • International aid/development worker
  • Landscape architect
  • Logistics and distribution manager
  • Nature conservation officer
  • Sustainability consultant
  • Tourism officer

Geography Games and Resources for Elementary Schoolers

Geography skills are a critical area of learning development in elementary school education. Students become familiar with reading and interpreting maps and form attitudes toward people in countries all around the world. This is the beginning of how they shape and develop their perception of society.

Elementary schoolers have the ability at their age level to learn geographic skills in observation, classification, organization and map reading. Geography games are a popular method of teaching the subject to young children, as students stay engaged by actively participating.

Maps can be one of the most powerful tools for making geography tangible for children. A world map game that prompts students to identify various countries and cultures could be a simple lesson plan to strengthen an elementary schooler’s geography skills.

See the lesson plans below to instruct geography lessons in your classroom:

  • Your School: Using a Geographic Perspective:This is a very introductory lesson plan that equips students with the ability to ask questions as they experiment with the geography in their own classroom and school. Students will describe the differences between a location and a place, explain how characteristics of their surroundings affect them, and discuss the setting of the geography of their school and their own relationship with that place.
  • National Geographic’s Free Kids Geography Games:National Geographic offers many free games for elementary school-age children on all natural topics, including geography.
  • U.S. and World Resources for Teachers: Printouts of world maps, interactive quizzes to measure what students have learned in geography class, puzzles and more are all available for teachers to use in their classrooms during geography lessons.
  • Interactive Map for Geography Class: By selecting an area of the map, students can read the name of the country and navigate further to get all sorts of information on the specified country, such as the flag, government type, currency, area measurements and climate information.
  • Enchanted Learning: There are many classroom activities and printouts for teachers to reference and use to develop engaging geography lessons for their students.


Geography Skills and Resources for Middle Schoolers

By this point in their education, middle schoolers certainly know the fundamentals of geography, such as how to read and observe maps, and understand that nations vary and differ all throughout the world. Middle schoolers can actively begin to form their own perspectives and opinions on the matters they learned in geography classes in elementary school. Geography games, such as a world map game or geography trivia, resonate with middle schoolers as well.

For instance, the term “map” means more than simply a visual of locations. Maps can be combinations of symbols, technology and images to depict facts and context. Students can begin to brainstorm and think outside the box when it comes to the core concepts of geography to enhance their geographical analysis and skill sets.

In addition to expanding the meaning of preconceived concepts among middle schoolers, there are visuals available online that make teaching geography much easier. One such resource is an interactive timeline and world map that demonstrates how the world has developed throughout history. By selecting a region and point in time, students can learn about how an aspect of society, such as lifetime expectancy rate in different countries or mobile phone usage, has evolved.

The following lesson plans are popular for middle school students:

  • Geography Bingo Cover migration, cultural and physical borders, and more by having your classroom participate in a fun bingo game.
  • The Science of Mental Maps: Have your students read this New York Times article about mental maps and why they’re important. Your classroom can practice their geographical skills by utilizing their own mental maps.
  • The Lost Boys: Culture and Migration:After watching the documentary God Grew Tired of Us, students learn the origin of the Lost Boys of Sudan and about the circumstances in Sudan that caused them to leave the place they called home. During this lesson, students map the journey of the Lost Boys’ migration and discuss the hardships of being displaced.
  • European Borders Throughout History: This lesson illustrates both physical and cultural maps of Europe. Students can see how the borders among European countries have changed and at which notable historical times those changes took course. Skill sets strengthened throughout this lesson are geographical analysis and answering strategic questions.
  • Human Geography and Borders: Students closely observe how cultural differences impact geography, particularly in Europe. They are tasked with researching an example of how culture has impacted the changing of borders.
  • Languages and Religions of the United Kingdom and Ireland:This lesson reviews the languages spoken in the United Kingdom and in Ireland, and showcases where language, country and culture coincide and also separate. Cooperative learning, discussions, reading, reflection and visual instruction are all teaching styles used.
  • Languages and Religions of Europe: After articulating their initial impressions and thoughts on European languages and religions, students learn about various religious groups in Europe and what constitutes a sector of a nation as a group. The importance and strengths of diversity are emphasized in this lesson.
  • Conflict on the Danube:Students are introduced to the overlap of politics, environmental issues and communication by observing the complexity that sharing borders entails. This lesson is heavy on brainstorming, cooperative learning and discussion.
  • Gathering Ideas About Europe:Students map out their ideas about Europe and why location and shape affect how countries’ government systems are run, what drives their economies, and how residents interact with neighboring peoples. This lesson has multimedia elements, as viewing imagery of Europe can either prove or falsify their preconceived notions about Europe.
  • Political Borders:During this lesson, students create a new continent and design divides and borders based on cultural and political differences. Students have free rein with brainstorming what factors impact the development of country borders.

Teaching Geography in the High School Classroom

Lesson plans that relate to the daily life and interests of high school students are often more successful. They may understand and engage further with modern examples of geography, such as how manufacturing 1,000 iPhones affects the economy.

During this stage of their education, high schoolers respond well to taking the reins during lessons rather than being assigned a task to simply complete and return to their teachers.

The following lesson plans strengthen high schoolers’ geography skills and allow students to interact with the geography material in a tangible way:

  • Recording a Dying Language:This lesson delves into a Native American language that has been dwindling over time. Students watch a documentary about Marie Wilcox, the last Native American to fluently speak Wukchumni, who created a dictionary of her native language to avoid its dying out.
  • Presidential Decision-Making: Helsinki Accords:Students are asked to identify the stakeholders in President Gerald Ford’s decision to sign the Helsinki Accords. They are also encouraged to form their own opinions about President Ford’s decision and to identify the consequences of his actions. Students learn contextual problem-solving and decision-making skills in a geographical setting through this lesson plan.
  • Making a Decision About the Construction of an Oil Pipeline Through British Columbia:During this lesson, teachers demonstrate how many moving parts there are to making politically charged environmental decisions. Students must investigate both the benefits and the repercussions of building an oil pipeline through British Columbia, and also observe and identify the various roles stakeholders play in the decision-making and negotiation process.
  • Making a Decision About Building a Road in the Amazon: Students will assess the multilayered complexities in making an environmental decision in another country. Through analysis, asking questions, designing solutions, and obtaining and evaluating information, students can form their own conclusions about political and environmental decision-making.
  • Marine Protected Areas Management:There are both pros and cons to having a marine protected area. Students dive into the issues that arise with the management of these protected ecosystems in the ocean. They enact the role of stakeholders in the process and must form a plan to support and execute.
  • Fisheries: In this lesson, students are exposed to the issues of maintaining a fishery and how sustainability is critical to both sea life and people alike, especially when it comes to fish consumption.
  • Ecosystem Imbalance in the World:This lesson examines the relationship between humans and their impact on the ocean. Students build their knowledge of their individual impacts on the ocean in how sustainably they live, learn about how human action can disrupt ocean habitats and creatures, and get familiar with coral reef systems.
  • Human Impacts on Marine Species:Students explore the life cycles of sea life and how the actions of mankind can alter migration paths, water chemistry and more. They perform their own research and participate in discussions to better understand and engage with this subject.
  • Making Informed Environmental Decisions:This activity plan encompasses social context, such as current events and political knowledge, in addition to human geography and environmental studies. Students learn to make environmental decisions based on drawing conclusions and discussion.

teacher beside map

High-Level Resources

Geography teachers and teachers looking to teach geography in their classrooms can reference the following renowned organizations to further enhance their teachings among students.

National Geographic

National Geographic has several lesson plans for all ages, from elementary school through high school. Each lesson focuses on a core topic and features various objectives for students to work toward accomplishing. Each one also details what type of learning students engage in and what teaching style is necessary to execute the lesson in the classroom.

You can read more here:

National Council for Geographic Education

First published in 1994, the National Council for Geographic Education’s Geography for Life outlines geographical knowledge, perspectives, skills and standards of excellence. It defines five skills that describe how students ought to construct geographic investigations:

  1. 1. Asking geographic questions
  2. 2. Acquiring geographic information
  3. 3. Organizing geographic information
  4. 4. Analyzing geographic information
  5. 5. Answering geographic questions

The National Council for Geographic Education offers many resources for teachers here:

It is imperative that students build a solid foundation of geography throughout their education. This shapes the way foreign nations interact and perceive one another in the future. By being exposed to and intrigued by geography from an early age, students will grow to embrace differences among one another and not be ignorant of them.

The future of geographers will determine the international economy, the environment and governmental systems.




Nov 2017