3-12, Science, Social Studies, Teaching Tools

National Geographic Explorer Classroom

National Geographic is currently offering a series of livestreams called, “Explorer Classroom.”  These are currently available on YouTube at 2 PM Eastern Time.  You can easily join in viewing by just clicking the “Watch” link under the featured presenters at the appropriate time.  (Choose the calendar icon for the full list of scheduled programs.)  For those of you planning ahead of time, you can register for the program with a chance for your children and/or students to get one of the few on-camera spots.  The “Family Guide” that you will find after each program description gives excellent suggestions for activities and research that can be done before the livestream in order to get the most out of your experience.  From discovering new species of frogs to learning what we can do to protect sharks, children will certainly find at least one, if not all, of these topics to be of interest.

Photo by David Clode on Unsplash
Education, Geography, K-12, Social Studies, Teaching Tools, Websites

National Geographic MapMaker Kit

Click here to visit the National Geographic Mapmaker Kit page.
Click here to visit the National Geographic Mapmaker Kit page.

You know how it goes.  You’re in the 3rd hour of “training your brain” by playing 2048 on your iPhone in the hopes of beating your 11-year-old daughter’s high score, and you suddenly think, “This is a waste of time.  Instead, I should make a wall-size map of The World painstakingly pieced together by my very own hands out of 136 sheets of 8 1/2 x 11 paper so my students can have a more global view.”

And so begins a series of follies that can only be truly appreciated by those who voluntarily undertake ridiculously large projects with absolutely no clear idea of the steps needed to achieve them.

Or maybe that’s just me.

Anyway, I not only erroneously thought I would make this map within the week, but that my 1st graders would help me piece it together and that we would mark the locations of all of our Twitter friends and country research before the end of the year.  Oh, and that we would “augment” the project using Aurasma, so we  could scan the map with an iPad and see videos about each country.

Yes, I’m that naïve.

The good news is that I completed the map – after approximately 3 months.  The bad news is that I finished it a week after I taught my last class with my GT 1st graders.  The good news is that most of them will come back next year as GT 2nd graders.  The bad news is that I have no place to store the map – and we are supposed to clear off our walls before we leave for the summer.

I don’t suppose I really have to leave for the summer…

Anyway, perhaps you would like to try this idea yourself just to prove how inept I am at taping together 136 pieces of paper that were not cut as precisely as they should have been.  If so, then I would highly recommend that you watch the tutorial from National Geographic on using its MapMaker Kit resources.  Some things that are not mentioned in the tutorial are: you might want to print a double-sided copy of each page so you can tape it from the back, you might want to laminate all of the pages before you tape them together (I initially thought I would tape a couple of rows and laminate them, but they did not lay flat enough), and that you should ask some highly energetic and/or amazingly-accurate-at-cutting parent volunteers to do this for you so you are not tempted to stomp all over the continents in frustration when your map refuses to line up.

Or, you could start small, like printing the 1 pager map of the World instead of 136.

But, where’s the fun in that?

By the way, does anyone see the huge typo on this map?  Be the first to comment below if you think you know what it is.  There is no prize – just the joy of knowing that you found it.  And I would like to point out that this was not my mistake.  I put all of the pieces together exactly as they printed from the site. I’m not pointing fingers or anything…

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Education, Games, K-12, Social Studies, Websites

National Geographic Families

from "Family Treasure Hunting"
from “Family Treasure Hunting”

This week, I am focusing on providing resources to “Squash the Summer Slide” as ReadWriteThink puts it. Parents often ask me at this time of year for ideas to keep students challenged over the summer.  National Geographic Families has some links that might be of particular interest during the next three months.

Try out the geography games from National Geographic here

Geographic Groceries puts a new twist on what can be a humdrum chore.

Here’s a neat Meerkat Survival game that a family or group of kids could play.

Though it’s not from National Geographic, GeoGuessr is an interesting detective game using Google Street View.  You must try to derive the correct location by looking for clues in the photos.

If you are feeling very adventurous, then your family should try geocaching.  You can visit “Family Treasure Hunting” to learn more about this fun and educational activity.

Education, Fun Friday, K-12, Videos

The Orangutan and the Hound

Since this is my Fun Friday post for the week, I will not go into all of the ways you could connect this to classroom learning.  Just watch, and enjoy!

3-12, Education, Games, Research, Websites

Brain Games

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 3.15.15 PM

National Geographic’s Brain Games series airs on Monday nights and covers topics from “How Closely Do You Pay Attention?” to “Do You Believe Your Eyes?”  Tonight’s episode is “The Power of Persuasion”, and it’s the 5th one of the 12 for this season.  The show is “chock full of interactive games and experiments designed to mess with your mind and reveal the inner-workings of your brain.”

Watching the show is fascinating, of course, but the website has some great features, too.  For example, as each episode airs, a new challenge is issued on the “Brain Profile” page.  I took the challenge for this week’s episode, and found out, surprisingly, the following:

Screen Shot 2013-05-05 at 3.23.54 PM

I’m still trying to decide if I should make a t-shirt proclaiming this or just print it out and stick it on one of my car windows…

3-6, Education, Games, Geography, Social Studies, Websites

Go on a Family Adventure!

National Geographic has an Education site that is in Beta right now.  Just in time for the summer, you can visit the site to play “Go on a Family Adventure!”  You can choose whether you would like to do a Land or Sea Adventure, which route you would like to take, and the difficulty level.  It’s a great way to practice your geography skills, see how long it typically takes to travel around the map, and to even see photographs of each of your destinations.