Geography is best learned, in my humble opinion, through practical application. That is why I show my children on a globe where the Nile River is when we read The Golden Goblet, for example. But geography games are another great way to put geography into practice. I reviewed two such games, both related to United States geography: GeoDerby*USA and Snapshots across America. My children have played both these games almost daily since we got them! They even play them alone if no one is available to play with them (do your children ever do that? Mine take two tokens and play against themselves)!
GeoDerby*USA comes with a 14" by 19" laminated map of the U.S., a horse racetrack game board, 70 color-coded question cards, four horse with jockey tokens, a one-minute timer, and an eight-sided die. Players try to be the first horse and rider around the game board by answering geography questions using the map, if needed. Here are some sample questions: Name the state on Arizona's north border. The Salton Sea is in which state? Omaha, Nebraska is on what river? Which state is a large peninsula? Cards are color-coded to the state in which the answer can be found, with five colors used on the map. Blue cards are scrambler questions, not color-coded. Questions marked with a "T" are "tickler" questions, which cannot be answered using the map. For example, Aspen Ski Resort is in what state? Or, what city in Missouri is known as "The Gateway to the West?" Suggestions are given as to how to accommodate age variations, such as not asking younger children "tickler" questions. Or, you may decide to let younger children move extra spaces for correct answers. You and your children are sure to learn a lot about the geography of our great country and have lots of fun in the process.
Snapshots across America approaches United States geography from a different perspective by focusing on tourist attractions. The object of the game is to be the first player to travel to seven different tourist attractions across the U.S. The game contains a game board map of the U.S., six car tokens, and 110 cards. There are four different types of cards: tourist attraction cards, transportation cards, bad weather cards, and airport closed cards. The cards are sturdy, glossy cardstock with actual photographs of each tourist attraction and a little description. There is also a small map in the corner of each tourist attraction card highlighting where it is located. Children must decide how to get from State A to State B, either by driving one space per turn or using one of their transportation cards (one-way train fare, or round-trip airfare, for example). Other players can try to block a player by playing a "bad weather" card or "airport closed" card. The first player to successfully reach seven tourist attractions (from his cards) and play those cards is the winner. My five-year-old had a hard time accepting that he flew one-way to his tourist attraction only to have his older brother "close the airport" on him, so now we only use tourist attraction cards and transportation cards when we play with him. But my eight and 10-year-olds like to try to block each other, so they play more competitively. It's up to you how to play it with your family.
These two games are great fun for our whole family, and none of my children even realizes how much he is learning! And if fun and games make my children happy homeschoolers, then I am a happy homeschool mommy! Be sure to visit www.talicor.com and see their wonderful selection of educational games for the whole family.