What’s in your backpack?

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It’s back-to-school: Are you geography ready? As parents and
students hurry to prepare for the new school year, now is a perfect time to
think about ways to ensure that kids have access to great geography resources. Here’s an idea: As you’re filling backpacks
with pencils, rulers, and spiral notebooks, why not throw in some new books? We
love National Geographic’s collection of books and atlases just for kids. Full of colorful pictures and age-appropriate text, these
materials are invaluable sources of information that inspire geographic
interest in young learners. They cover a variety of topics including culture,
history, science and space, animals and nature, and reference. My pick: The new World Atlas for Young Explorers, 3rd Edition, which now features an interactive website. Since I enjoyed the  Arctic  Tale movie so much, I’d also recommend the official companion book to the film.

And for a fresh dose of geography each month, you might
consider purchasing a subscription to National Geographic Kids. I
constantly hear rave review from parents about this magazine, along with
stories of disputes among siblings for “first dibs!” For all the teachers out
there, National Geographic now produces classroom magazines specifically
designed to improve reading skills while teaching intriguing science and social
studies core content.

MyWonderfulWorld.org also offers great resources so you
don’t have to spend a penny to enjoy geography as a family. Check out this
great list of geography activities full of projects and games to do in
your house, backyard, community, and while on the road.

And finally, we hope you’ll take action to ensure that kids
receive sufficient geography education both at home and at school. Encourage teens and college students to sign up for
geography classes if available. Take a look at our global schools checklist
to see if your community’s schools are ‘geography ready” with appropriate
curricula and resources in place. If not, consider becoming involved in your
local PTA and voice your support for geography education. And did you know that
there are currently bills before
both the Senate and the House of Representatives to increase federal funding
for geography programs? Why not contact your lawmakers to let them know
that “Teaching
Geography is Fundamental?”
. Make it
your homework assignment this fall to become an advocate for geography by
taking just a few of these simple steps!

Good luck hitting the books!

Sarah for My Wonderful World

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2 responses to “What’s in your backpack?

  1. Wow, I’m really pleased to find this blog and learn I’m not the only one who thinks kids are being failed by our education systems! I’m from the UK but even here, kids don’t seem to be taught basic geography any more. My own kids can’t interpret maps, they don’t know capital cities, they don’t know where countries are in relation to each other – my 18 year old thinks Brazil is in Europe! As Jerome Dobson says, “Quiz after quiz has shown that kids today don’t know where any place is” – he’s absolutely right!

  2. Thanks for your comment, Nina. It’s interesting, but not surprising, to learn that geographic illiteracy is a problem not just in the United States, but in many other nations as well–including so-called ‘western’ countries with the most advanced education systems. This is obviously a serious problem in an increasingly globalized world and economy, one that we hope to address in the United States through our public awareness campaign, My Wonderful World. We hope you’ll continue to read the blog and offer an overseas perspective whenever you’re inclined!

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