So I have to admit, one of the best things I have found to help teach geography is the LeapFrog TAG system. This does more than maps, but I found the United States map and the World map to be 2 of the best things out there. My 6 year old identified France without blinking today! I know several adults who couldn't do that. I'm not one to endorse products such as this, but it is truly great. It also has things on the solar system, human body & more!
Another cool way to teach geography is to go on a road trip. We recently went to Ocean City, MD - only 5 hours from our home - but saw over 19 state license plates. We decided to write them down and research them when we got home. We found them on a map, identified the state capitals and some cool facts about each state.
Want to teach World Geography? Try using different cultures celebrations and festivals to spark interest. Want to explore China? Celebrate Chinese new year. Mexico? Cinco de Mayo. Spain? La Tomatina (the tomato throwing festival). My brothers once had their own La Tomatina in the yard of our apartment with the landlord's tomatoes. Mom was NOT pleased! But if you have your own tomatoes & can handle a bit of a mess, what kid wouldn't LOVE to do this?
Have family members or friends in different states or countries? Start a pen pal relationship with them. This will not only encourage writing, teaching how to write a formal letter and how to address an envelope, but it will spark interest in learning about that area too!
Fill a suitcase with items from a specific country, city or region. Have the kids unpack the suitcase and try to figure out where they are going. Use Google Earth to fly to your destination. Have the kids research why the items in your suitcase are relevant to that area.
For older kids, set up a twitter account for Dr. Geo Grapher. Have the students check his/her tweets about a certain region, area, etc. They can tweet withe the good Dr. asking questions, looking for clues...
Map Puzzles: glue local, state, national or world maps to car stock & cut out into puzzle pieces. Kids will have fun trying to put it back together.
With just a little time and energy, anyone can turn ANY topic into hands-on, fun learning.