Thursday, December 18, 2014

Teaching Ideas

Want to incorporate more geography lessons into your classroom but don’t know how? Consider these options:

  • Teacher Vision is a great online source of ideas. While Teacher Vision is subscription based, they offer five free printable resources and a free-trial. Lessons range from strictly US and world geography to incorporating geography into other subjects, like earth science, math, and language arts.

  • The Library of Congress has a wide selection of online maps and geography resources that can make their way into the classroom. Online maps can help with spatial understanding, and there is even a link to an online “Earth as Art" exhibit using Landsat aerial images.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Geography and the Holidays

It’s the holiday season again! The geography of a place can be a huge influence on holiday traditions from food to folklore.

ESRI put together a fun story map showing how the story of Santa Claus has evolved over time and place. This can be a great way to introduce and discuss regional differences with younger students. Learner’s Online put together a convenient e-resource to provide background information on prominent winter holidays around the globe that can be used in conjunction with ESRI's story map.

Scholastic also offers thematic social studies resources to explore winter holiday traditions in the classroom. These resources include lesson and unit plans for K-8 grades on everything from Christmas to Hanukkah to Diwali, including how to plan your own multicultural holiday celebration for elementary school students.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Geography of Food: Food Transporation

You notice the food in front of you, but have you ever wondered how your food got here?  Although it may not seem like it, we are all connected around the world through various means.  One way in which we are all connected is food.  But, food grown across the globe must somehow find its way back to you.  Food is transported through various means including: ship, airplane, train, and truck.

Activity:  Pick a food item you eat on a regular basis.  Look at the label on this item to see where it comes from.  Track the trip of the food from its origins to your plate.

Educational Links:


Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Geography of Food: Food Growing Seasons

Farmers are able to grow and produce many food products during the year for us.  Do you know that there are specific growing seasons for food?  Right now, we are in the Autumn Season for growing food- this season lasts until November.  This growing season means that foods such as: squash, pears, apples, cherries, and pumpkins are in season.

Activity: What are your favorite foods?  Are they in season right now? Use the links below to map out where your favorite foods are grown and indicate if they are in season.

The links below give you a better understanding of what foods the US produces during the various growing seasons and what foods are in season.


Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Geography of Food: Learning with the Peace Corps

The Peace Corps is perhaps the most well-known international service organization of the United States. Its stated mission is “to promote world peace and friendship by fulfilling three goals: to help the people of interested countries in meeting their need for trained men and women; to help promote a better understanding of Americans on the part of the peoples served; to help promote a better understanding of other peoples on the part of Americans”.

Peace Corps volunteers can be excellent resources for geographic understanding, including understanding the food of a different culture. Since we may not all know a Peace Corps volunteer, the organization has put together lesson plans to help promote cross-cultural understanding.

Cuisine and Etiquette in Sierra Leone, Uganda and Zambia explores how mealtime manners can shed light on cultural norms. This activity is intended for 3rd through 5th graders.

What Can Food Tell Us About a Place? uses a Peace Corps volunteer’s experience in Tongren, China to foster discussion about China’s food traditions and regional differences as compared to the United States. This activity can be used for 3rd through 12th graders.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Geography of Food: Urban Agriculture

How can you farm in the city? There is movement occurring across the globe of utilizing vacant areas and spaces for agriculture.  With urban agriculture, one can reconnect with the Earth and the growing cycles of food.

The links below give you further insight into the growing field of urban agriculture.
Further Reading:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Geography of Food: Food and Religion

Food and religion go hand in hand across the world. Many religions have specific rituals, practices and celebrations that influence the types of foods its followers can consume. For example, many Jewish people eat special kosher foods like gefilte fish and matzo farfel during the Passover holiday. In Hinduism, the cow is traditionally considered sacred, so many followers do not eat beef.

National Geographic Education offers a fun activity to explore some of the major religious food cultures in the world. In this activity, 9th-12th graders are given the opportunity to plan a menu based on discussion and research about food rituals.

Further exploration:  CBS video that explores food and culture of Judaism, Islam, and Sikhism.

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Geography of Food: Farmers' Market

What is a farmers’ market?  According to the USDA, “a farmers' market is defined as a multi-stall market at which farmer-producers sell agricultural products directly to the general public at a central or fixed location”. Additionally, farmers’ markets provide people with an opportunity to interact with their community and their local farmers. 
Below are articles and videos about the local food movement and farmers ‘ markets throughout the world.  Additionally, if your students want to find farmers’ markets in their area, they can use the USDA’s search engine which is listed below.


Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Geography of Food: Geographic Groceries

Do you know where your food comes from? For many people, the answer is simple—the grocery store. While it may seem simple, the reality is that the food you buy in the grocery store has already traveled a long way before it ever makes it into your home. Getting food into the store and then your home is a complex process involving farmers, transportation systems, and retailers.

National Geographic Education offers some fun activities to explore not only how food makes its way into your home, but also how the grocery store itself can be divided into different “food regions”.

Geographic Groceries is a quick mapping activity to expose students ages 8-11 to the different regions of a conventional grocery store. This link offers a similar activity for younger students.

This is what your grocery store will look like in 2065

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Geography of Food: State Fairs

It’s that time of year again! Big Tex is back at the State Fair of Texas. State fairs can be great representations of regional differences and similarities across the country, including the food. State Fairs have even developed a food culture of their own.

In Texas, there is a long history of agriculture and cattle ranching, and that still affects how we eat today. The State Fair of Texas provides some great TEKS-based lesson plans for 3rd and 4th graders to incorporate state food and farming into the classroom.