Combining Geography and Art

Combining geography and art can be an interesting way to teach two subjects at once. I recently did this with a group of children in kindergarten through third grade. The primary inspiration for this class was Global Art: Activities, Projects, and Inventions from Around the World by MaryAnn F. Kohl. In this book, the author presents art activities related to different cultures. You can use this book or the resources suggested below to plan your class. You just need a list of countries, or other geographic locations, some fun facts for each place, and a related art project. Here is the process that I followed to teach this class. Perhaps you will want to follow it to create your own geography/art class.

With the exception of the first class, begin each class with a review of the places, fun facts, and art projects from the previous classes. This reinforces what the students have learned. Next, introduce the country or place of the day. Have the students locate the place on a map. I suggest using paper maps that the students can write on. If your students are young, they can label the location with a number or letter that correlates to a key on the map that has the names of the places listed. Older students can write the names. After the students have identified the country or place on a map, have them find the location on a globe. We used plastic globes and put a sticker on each location. Next, it is time for some fun facts. You will have to do some research for this, but it is not difficult. Two good online resources are National Geographic and Time For Kids. For younger kids, three facts are plenty. You can tell them the continent, official language(s), and one other fun fact about each place. Older students can learn more facts like major cities or land features. You could even have them research some fun facts on their own or ask them to find certain information about each place.

Now it is time for the art. Describe an art form that relates to the country or place. This may require a bit of research unless you are using Kohl’s book. Two other books that I would recommend and that you may be able to find at your library are Art from many hands: multicultural art projects for home and school by Jo Miles Schuman and Craft traditions of the world: locally made, globally inspiring by Bryan Sentance. Online, you can find ideas at Kinder ArtTeach Kids Art, DLTK’s Crafts for Kids , and Arts Good Multicultural Art. First, show students some pictures of the actual art. You could show them photos from a book or something that you’ve found online. Make sure to highlight the specific details that make the art unique. Then, introduce the art project. It is helpful to have a sample of the project to show the students. Additionally, if you prepare the project ahead of time you will be able to identify any potential problems that the kids may face when they do their projects. Give younger students some guidelines about what their projects should contain, if anything. For instance, if the art form usually has wavy lines, tell the students to include some wavy lines and show them what they look like by referring to the sample or the pictures. You can use your own judgment as to how close you want their projects to be to the actual art style. Make sure to choose projects that are appropriate to the ages of the students. Kohl’s book suggests a difficulty level for each project, but you can modify the projects to suit your students. Finally, offer encouragement as the students create their art and make sure to appreciate their finished projects. That’s it. Combining geography and art is easy and fun!

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