Teaching geography and map skills in an increasingly global world is more important than ever, but it seems as if students are less prepared to understand the world around them than they were in years past. Utilizing technology may help teachers find a way to engage students who don’t always see why knowing where a country is or how a map works is relevant to their lives.
A fairly simple map-based app, TapQuiz Maps World Edition asks users to physically use the maps as the answer key for the questions being posed. In so doing, the app encourages geographic knowledge and map awareness while encouraging students to have fun.
It’s difficult to imagine creating a list of map-based online resources and not including something from National Geographic—and National Geographic Kids Atlas is a great resource for teachers and students. The Kids Atlas site features multiple map options to use, including maps that you can zoom into and a map generator to allow kids to see population and other features on the maps they create.
With more than 40 difficulty levels, Geomaster Plus HD is a challenge app for the true geography lover. Options for games include world cities, countries, flags, monuments, and land features. The outlined maps look like they are on a chalkboard, and the simple graphics are accessible to multiple age groups.
The way users master MapMaster is to pinpoint (literally—with a graphic of a pushpin) the correct place. The app measures accuracy based on GPS coordinates, and gives a perfect score for even close answers. One interesting feature of MapMaster is that users can play against up to 10 other people on the same device, making it a viable option for classroom use (and competition!).
JigsawGeo merges previous incarnations, each of which focused on a different continent, into one massive free app with multiple in-app purchases. You choose the map you want to play with and purchase it as you go along, though you begin with the 13 U.S. Colonies for free. The app has four levels, labeling each user by a different name (traveler, surveyor, navigator, discoverer) and asking a set of questions which ascending difficulty levels. Users answer the questions by using the map. If you are using this app for a certain geographic region, it could be an inexpensive and fun way to test student learning.
If you’re looking to entice unwilling students into playing a geography game, perhaps the pirate theme of Puzzleography might help—if your students are young. This app, geared toward younger students, features maps from every continent and even the solar system. Students can click on a map portion and have the name of the country or state spelled and pronounced, to help them work not only on geography but on reading skills as well. While this app probably won’t keep student attention for years and years, it does certainly offer lower grades an opportunity to practice a multitude of skills while learning geographic information.
GeoWalk is an HD 3D World Factbook app that allows users to spin the globe to find an interesting place to learn more about. While the factbook is not meant to be comprehensive, it does offer students additional opportunities to begin to place cultural information together with geographical information to create their understanding of that place. It may also excite young learners into wanting to learn new facts about a new place, thereby making geography easier to teach.
Surprisingly addictive, Geoguessr is an online game that provides pictures and asks visitors to guess where on the world map the picture belongs. Once you make your guess, the game shows you the correct location on the map, along with the miles apart the two locations are. Some students may find the haphazard guessing fun, while others may genuinely try to determine where the foliage and architecture indicates the place is—regardless, you might be surprised at how often students want to “pin” their guess on the world map.
This set of apps for Apple products offers both geography drills and silly fun in the same app. Students can try to find where states or countries belong, or simply stack the states in order to meet a certain goal. Stack the States contains numerous questions to test knowledge about states or countries, including capital quizzes. Attractive to geography buffs and puzzle fans, these apps feature kid-friendly graphics.