Creative Ways to Teach the Continents
Fun Ways to Teach the Continents
Are you looking for fun, creative ways to teach the continents? I have taught 5th through 8th graders and developed a number of fun games I can share with you. These games will also work with younger students. If you try to 'teach' kids by lecturing to them, they are unlikely to learn much. But, turn the lesson into a game, and they will be sad when the period is over.
Songs and videos can also be a good teaching technique. These work better with younger students (early elementary). I have included some examples here, too.
I hope these ideas will help you develop continents lesson plans that your classes will enjoy and learn from at the same time.
You can add excitement to any game by adding prizes. Small inexpensive items like pencils or candy are sufficient to keep kids motivated.
Pin the Plane on the Continent
This is an adaptation of 'Pin the Tail on the Donkey'. Get a large sheet of paper that you can pin at the front of the class. Draw the world map on it. It doesn't need to be real detailed - all you are trying to do is familiarize students with which continent is where. Give each student a piece of paper in the shape of a plane. Let them write their names on the plane.
Write the name of each continent on a piece of paper and place the 7 pieces of paper in a jar or bowl or bag. Let students come up one at a time and draw out a piece of paper. Blindfold them, spin them around and then lead them to the map and let them try to fly their plane to the continent they drew. Make sure you have candy for all the students who are successful.
This is the favorite game in my class. I got the idea from the quizzes on Survivor where each contestant has a chalkboard, or an answer cube or something similar and Jeff Probst asks a question and they all have to hold up their answer. My class meets in the sanctuary of a church, so I start them all off behind the last pew. If they answer a question correctly, they move forward pew by pew. First one to the front is the winner.
You either need to supply each student with a chalkboard or pieces of paper to write their answers on, or you can give each one 7 pieces of paper with the names of the continents and they hold up the correct answer. Questions should vary in difficulty as you want every child to be able to move forward at least once, but you also don't want them all 'winning'.
This game is based on a British game I grew up playing - Beetle Drive. Each player needs a copy of a simple world map. You can print one here. Divide the class into groups of 4-6. Each group needs a dice. Players take turns rolling the dice. Each number rolled is equated with part of the map
- South America, North America
- Europe, Asia
- Africa, Antarctica, Australia
- Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean
- Arctic Ocean, Southern Ocean
- Indian Ocean
So, if a player rolls a 2, he can fill in the word Europe or Asia in the correct place on the map. Play passes to the next person. If they roll a 3, they can fill in Africa, Antarctica or Australia on their map. If they roll a number and they have already filled in all continents / oceans associated with that number, they miss a turn. Play continues until someone in the class has filled in all 7 continents and 5 oceans and they shout MAP!
Run to the Continent
This is a popular game when the weather is beautiful outside. I made it up at the end of winter, when we had an unexpectedly warm day and the kids were desperate to get outdoors.
You need to designate parts of the area you are playing in as each of the continents. You can either say - the tree is South America, the bleachers are Europe etc, or you can make signs with the continent names on them and put them in the correct places relative to each other. I think the latter would be better, but as I did it on the spur of the moment, I just had to use what was available.
Once the kids know where each continent is, you call out a clue eg "This continent is directly south of North America". They should all rush to South America. The last one to arrive is 'out' and helps you determine who gets to the next place last. A variant on this would be to divide the kids in teams of 3 or 4 and each time a different kid from each team has to respond to the clue. The children who first get to each continent correctly, score a point for their team.
Make up your own questions - or use the ones I made mentioned under 'Survivor-style Quiz'
The Continents Song
There are various versions of the Continents song you can teach your students. This is a great way to teach the basics to early elementary. Youtube is full of examples - here are some I recommend.
World Floor Map Jigsaw Puzzle
I use this as one of a number of activities when I teach the continents (I have classroom helpers who make this possible). I just have one jigsaw puzzle and students work on it in groups of 4. I time them to see which group can finish the fastest. Of course, if you have lots of money at your disposal it would be great to buy multiple copies so all the students could work on theirs at the same time.
This jigsaw has just 33 pieces so is perfect for younger students. Larger ones (up to 55 pieces) are also available,