Geography Assignments For High School

Geography lessons can make a "world" of difference in students' knowledge of the world and in their test scores. That's because geography is multidisciplinary by nature. This week's lessons teach geography -- and math, language, and cultural literacy. Included: Five new lessons plus a link to the Education World geography lesson archive.

Can your students locate Afghanistan on a world map? In survey results released last November, during Geography Awareness Week, fewer than one in five U.S. adults ages 18-24 could pinpoint Afghanistan.

That National Geographic-Roper Global Geographic Literacy Survey polled more than 3,000 18- to 24-year-olds in Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy, Japan, Mexico, Sweden and the United States. Sweden scored highest; Mexico, lowest. The United States was next to last.

Geography is an interdisciplinary discipline in so many ways; it involves math, language, history, literature, and many other curriculum areas. That's why geography is such a great vehicle for improving student skills -- and why all teachers would be wise to work geography lessons into their curriculum.

This week's lessons present projects that teach geographic literacy while reinforcing many other essential skills. Click each of the five lesson headlines below for a complete teaching resource. (Appropriate grade levels for each lesson appear in parentheses.)

Where in the World?
Locating famous landmarks around the world develops students' research skills. (Grades 3-8)

A World of Information
Students create colorful maps to illustrate "top ten" statistics about our world. (Grades 3-12)

Where Did Foods Originate?
Help students discover how New World explorers influenced the Old World's diet (and vice versa). (Grades 2-12)

The Branding of America (and Your State)
Introduce to students the products your local area contributes to the U.S./world economy. (Grades K-12)
Note: This project is no longer available online, but this lesson still includes viable ideas that you can easily adapt for your classroom purposes.

Globe Game
Map game challenges students to develop geography skills. (Grades 2-12)

While surfing the Net we found these lesson plans that might interest you.

See more than * 20 additional geography resources!


Animated Atlas: Growth of a Nation
This 10-minute presentation illustrates the growth of the United States from the original 3 colonies in 1789.

With the right geography lesson, students can travel around the world without ever leaving the classroom. Teachers of any grade and subject can incorporate geography into their curriculum to help students gain a global perspective and understand the world around them. From learning to locate different cities, states, and countries on a map to understanding time zones and where their clothing comes from, we asked teachers to share their favorite tips and fun geography lessons that inspire students’ curiosity about the world. Here’s what they had to say:

1. Create autobiographical island maps

Students in Amy Getty’s sixth grade class start off the year by creating maps of islands that illustrate their lives. They first fill out an autobiographical survey and then use their creativity and knowledge of landforms and symbols to design their maps.


2. Put the world into perspective with Google Earth

Anytime fourth grade teacher Julia McIntyre talks about her personal travels, she uses Google Earth to show students the distance between their school and her destination. “It really puts it into perspective for them,” she says. Now you can also use Google Earth to follow National Geographic Explorers, including those working to protect the oceans through National Geographic’s Pristine Seas initiative. Josh Williams’ students explore the Pristine Seas program and use Google Earth to analyze how places around the world have changed over time.

3. Hold a mock geography bee

Fourth graders in Ashley Peterson’s class often play Kahoot! before dismissal. She recently held a mock geography bee using Kahoot! that teaches geography concepts and helps kids prep for the National Geographic Bee. Currently National Geographic has six geography-themed Kahoot! games available with topics including U.S. Food Faves, Amazing Animals, and Road Trip U.S.A. Learn how to use Kahoot! for a mock geography bee in your classroom.

Ashley Peterson’s fourth graders get ready for the Nat Geo Bee using Kahoot!

4. Play a global game of hide and seek

Mystery Class, which Christina Michelle plans to try with her students next year, helps kids understand longitude and latitude while learning about continents, countries, and cities around the world. Kids start by gathering data about the Earth based on latitude, longitude, and seasonal changes in sunlight. Then they investigate clues and compare their data, narrowing down their search to find 10 secret sites around the globe.

5. Map character journeys

When teaching about setting, Jessica Brookes suggests having kids create a map of the main character’s travels throughout the story, including a title, scale, key, and compass rose. Reading specialist Melody Arnett says a simple way she incorporates geography is by helping her class figure out where in the world each book they read takes place. “Sometimes it’s obvious … ‘This is a folktale from Thailand,’” she says, “and sometimes we infer based on clues from the story.”

6. Travel With technology

Technology teacher Melinda Klecker has her students design travel brochures. She asks each student to select a different state. They research that state and two cities in it to include inside the brochure. It’s a great way to incorporate writing, technology, graphic design, and geography all in one project.

7. Map your global footprint

Texas teacher Deborah Edmondson has her students take a group survey of where their shoes and clothing come from by checking the labels. They then use the National Geographic World Political MapMaker Kit to mark locations of where the materials come from and have a discussion about the global reach and interconnectedness of clothing and other goods they use every day.

Source: Mark Theissen

8. Explore the world through pen pals

Set up a pen pal exchange with a teacher in another city or country to help kids practice their writing skills while gaining a global perspective. Bring the experience to life by ending the year with a Skype chat where kids can finally “meet” their pen pals.

9. Feed your fast finishers

Here’s an idea to keep your fast finishers busy. Runa Zaman suggests photocopying a stack of blank world maps and asking kids to label them. Students can even receive extra credit or a small prize based on the number of countries they label correctly.

10. Map your classroom

Introduce spatial concepts without ever leaving the classroom. You can practice with familiar places using National Geographic’s activity to help your students understand the wider world around them—starting with their own classroom.

Source: Winn Brewer

11. Hold the whole world in your hands

Play “Throw the Globe” by tossing a beach-ball-sized inflatable globe around the classroom. When a student catches it, they must tell the class which continent or ocean their right thumb is touching. If they know something about the location, they can also share it with the class.

12. Put up a wall of clocks

Help students start to understand the geography of time zones by putting up a wall of clocks in your classroom. Set one clock to Universal Time and label it Greenwich, England. Choose a variety of major cities throughout the U.S. and the world to label the other clocks. Point out the clocks at different times throughout the school day. For example, in the morning when students in your class are just starting school, talk about what students in other time zones may be doing. You can also use the clocks as a starting point to explain how longitude and time zones are related.

Source: Sharon Angal, Quatama Elementary

13. Get to know foods around the world

Are your students hungry for knowledge about the world’s food production? National Geographic’s MapMaker Interactive layers show leading crop production per country on an interactive map. Challenge your students to think about what the map doesn’t show—like where crops may grow in the future or where the crops travel to when they are exported.

Source: National Geographic

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