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Helping Your Child Learn Geography: Part 3

Place: Physical and Human Characteristics
Every place has a personality. What makes a place special? What are the physical and cultural characteristics of your hometown? Is the soil sandy or rocky? Is the temperature warm or is it cold? If it has many characteristics, which are the most distinct?

How do these characteristics affect the people living there? People change the character of a place. They speak a particular language, have styles of government and architecture, and form patterns of business. How have people shaped the landscapes?

Study the Weather
Weather has important geographic implications that affect the character of a place. The amount of sun or rain, heat or cold, the direction and strength of the wind, all determine such things as how people dress, how well crops grow, and the extent to which people will want to live in a particular spot.
  • Watch the weather forecast on television or read the weather map in the newspaper. Save the maps for a month or more. You can see changes over time, and compare conditions over several weeks and seasons. Reading the weather map helps children observe changes in the local climate.
  • Use a weather map to look up the temperatures of cities around the world and discover how hot each gets in the summer and how cold each gets in the winter. Ask your children if they can think of reasons why different locations have different temperatures. Compare these figures with your town. Some children enjoy finding the place that is the hottest or the coldest.
  • Make simple weather-related devices such as barometers, pinwheels, weather vanes, and wind chimes. Watch cloud formations and make weather forecasts. Talk about how these describe the weather in your town.

Learn About Other Cultures
People shape the personality of their areas. The beliefs, languages, and customs distinguish one place from another.
  • Make different ethnic foods, take your children to an ethnic restaurant, or treat them to ethnic snacks at a folk festival. Such an experience is an opportunity to talk about why people eat different foods. What ingredients in ethnic dishes are unique to a particular area? For example, why do the Japanese eat so much seafood? (If your children look for Japan on a map they will realise it is a country of many islands.)
  • Read stories from or about other countries, and books that describe journeys. Many children’s books provide colourful images of different places and a sense of what it would be like to live in them. Drawings or photographs of distant places or situations can arouse interest in other lands.

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