Geography, the study of the Earth's land and inhabitants, is divided into two main branches. Physical geography includes landforms, natural resources, weather and the environment. Human geography covers populations, political systems and religion. When choosing today's sites, I tried to cover both areas, although most sites focus on either one or the other. [Editor's Note: An updated version of this topic can be found here: Geography]
Andrew Rader Studios serves up another winner with Geography 4 Kids. The site introduces physical geography and basic earth science including Earth's structure, atmosphere, hydrosphere, and biosphere. In addition to the topic tours that start on the homepage, the site includes interactive quizzes, a gallery of panorama photos, links to live cams and monitors, and a collection of wallpapers for your computer desktop.
"Google Earth lets you fly anywhere on Earth to view satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings and even explore galaxies in the Sky." After viewing the short tutorial video, and downloading the free software, I recommend starting with a worldwide Sightseeing tour. Highlights include the Eiffel Tower, Beijing's Forbidden City and Saint Peter's Basilica in Vatican City. Look in the left-hand Places menu for the Sightseeing folder. Select it with a check mark, and then click play.
Web designer Lyndsey McCollam has built a fun collection of thirty-six map quizzes covering continents, countries, states, and capital cities. For each question, you get three tries to correctly identify the answer on a map with a mouse click. Some of the maps, such as the one on the USA state quiz, can be toggled between a mutli-colored map (where each state is a different color) to a single-color map, making the quiz a tad bit harder. Can you identify Iraq on a map? Take the Middle East quiz and find out.
"Test your geography smarts right here online. Each day we'll post ten questions from the National Geographic Bee. Some of them are real stumpers, but it's okay if you miss a few - you can play as often as you like. Come back everyday for a brand new quiz and another chance to beat the Bee!" GeoBee is just one great choice here at National Geographic's Geography Games site. You can play at either an apprentice or expert level, and compete to make the day's high scores board. GeoSpy is another terrific click, a map game where you click to identify continents, countries or states.
With interactive map puzzles, mouseover maps, printable maps, make-your-own maps, and free downloadable map software, Owl & Mouse uses maps to teach geography. Some of the more unusual features are Mega Maps (print maps up to seven feet across) and the printable Make Your Own USA activity. For this exercise, you'll print the background map on normal paper, and the colorful lakes and mountain ranges on tracing (or transparent) paper. With scissors and glue, students cut out geographic features and put them on their map.