What could make geography interesting to patrons of all ages? A Globe? A map? An insteractive video game? The first response to these suggestions is usually greeted with a yawn and mutterings of boring. However, when working on a shoe-string budget for fabulous summer reading programs, the ordinary run of the mill objects will have to become extraordinary tools. How do you ask? One simple way is to use Uri Shulevitz' How I Learned Geography. In his short biographical tale, Shulevitz describes his father's gift as something that was quite awful that turned into a tool to ignite his imagination. What could be so awful yet turn out to be so wonderful? A map. This title is intriguing in so many ways, and can lead to interesting programming ideas for librarians looking for a creative hook to lure patrons in this summer.
Using maps, pictures of famous landmarks, and manilla envelopes the perfect geography game is ready to be played children. The questions can range from really simple to complex depending on the age group of the children. Children can form teams of two to see who can correctly identify the landmarks and place them on the right country. The team to correctly place the pictures The team to correctly place the picture on the right country. First team to correctly place ALL countries on the map wins a prize. To add a level of difficulty and fun, time the event to see who can finish first.
Everyone dreams of going of to a far away place. For teens who are natural hams and even for those who are wanna be hams and just need a push in the right push in the right direction, a travel video contest could be the creative outlet they need this summer. Simple instructions, such as the length of the video clip should be no longer than 2 minutes and 30 second long.. In the travel video, teens must describe a destination of their choice. It can be a real or fictional place and be as serious or funny as they would like. the point of the video is to convince the audience that their heaven on earth is worth going too, again an, again. Videos can be uploaded to the library's webpage or viewed at a final party. This is where the fun begin as the community will have a chance to vote on the best video. The travel video with the most votes wins a "spectacular" prize. (Cheap replicas of the Academy Awards Statue is one that teens should love to win but gift cards work well too!)
Once upon a time Mapquest had a sense of humor and allowed directions requests for finding one's way to Hawaii. The detailed instructions would include going to the coast and crossing the Pacific with a kayak. It was amusingly creative. Tapping in on that idea, give your young patrons the opportunity to become a Cartographer or map maker. This activity, if they choose to accept it, will demonstrate how creative young patrons can be on mapping out directions to their favorite place in the world. There are no restrictions on the types of vehicles to use, or the length of time they suspect it will take to get to the destination or if the final destination is real or imagined. What counts is creativity. This is loads of fun and it might surprise some librarians that "mapping" out directions is a fun activity. Even for them!
Geography does not need to be boring. With a few simple items, and one terrific book, ideas for keeping children busy this summer are not hard to find.