Providing students with memorable learning experiences is one way to make the knowledge stick. I am a HUGE fan of making learning fun because I have seen time and time again that when something is fun, engagement is up and more students are able to demonstrate their understanding.
Geography is one of those topics that traditionally can be a bit boring. Learning about the landforms, natural resources and climate of geographical regions that most Canadian adults can’t even name is not exactly what I would classify as fun and student motivation tends to be low. You get questions like “why do we even need to learn this”.
However, as soon as you bring some engagement to the party, all of a sudden the kiddos will LOVE learning about geography. I HIGHLY suggest framing your geography unit as a trip across Canada (or Alberta, Ontario, etc.). By making the learning about a trip, kids will automatically buy in! You can even add a little bit of excitement by giving students “tickets” for their trip.
On the first day of your unit, why not set the stage to engage by giving students boarding passes and having them pretend to board an airplane, on their way to your first geographical region? There are tons of video of airplanes taking off. Why not play one of those on the SMART Board? It adds so much fun and is a really inexpensive, low prep way to add engagement.
Another way to spice up your geography unit is to use candy! I LOVE making landform maps out of different candies and so do the kids. You can use Hershey’s kisses as mountains, cookies as islands, liquorice as rivers, etc. Anytime candy is brought into the classroom, even if it’s not to eat, engagement goes up!
Finally, remember that student voice and choice is key to engagement. If you are asking students to complete a final project or activity, allow them to choose how they present their information. Will they create a play? Write and perform a song? Create a diorama? The options are endless and providing choice will allow your students’ creativity juices to flow.