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Social Science Games for School Success!
SimplyFun’s educational board games span a variety of social science skills and abilities from preschool age and up. From cultural studies games and history games to economics games and geography games, there’s a game for all ages and interests. Here are a few of our top social science games that will help prepare your kids for success in school!
- Our World Puzzle Set: Great for preschool age and up, Our World Puzzle Set helps children learn the fundamentals of US and World geography. It also introduces them to the planets in our solar system. Three puzzles make up this set, including the United States, world geography, and the basic solar system. It’s a great way to introduce young learners to the big world we live in!
- Let’s Jet: Become a globe-trotting geography wiz! Let’s Jet is a geography game where you visit exotic locations from around the world, earning points for each destination you stop at. Players explore the game board and fact sheet to learn about the world and destinations on the game board. The full-colored fact sheet includes information on over 60 countries, including where to find them on the game map. Weather, events, bonus cards, and co-pilot cards allow for extended play and continued fun! Let’s Jet is great for 2-5 players ages 8 and up and takes 30 minutes to play.
- Eagle Chase: Travel the United States and learn amazing facts about the geography and history of the country while trying to catch up to the Eagle! In Eagle Chase, players travel the country, visiting as many locations as they can by playing their cards and rolling the dice, while also trying to catch up with the Eagle to earn extra points. The player with the most points at the end of the game wins. Eagle Chase is great for 2-5 players ages 10 and up and takes 30 minutes to play.
Geography as a Literacy Building Block
Have you ever thought of geography as a key component of your kids’ reading program? Well, if it isn’t, it should be. Working with geography-related puzzles, games, and maps allows kids to practice reading in a non-fiction environment beginning with the word ‘home.’ How much of our identity as a world citizen is wrapped up in where we are born, where we have been, and where we are going? It is important not just to see the world as a picture on a screen, but to be able to name specific places, describe them, and understand their relationship to one another and to us.
Already you can see that geography is more than just a bunch of location names. It really embodies the full array of experiences of living in a particular spot. Think of all the words we use to describe a single state in the U.S. Using Indiana as an example: the motto of the state (The Crossroads of America), its location (East of the Mississippi), state flag (19 stars signifying Indiana’s admission as the 19th state of the union), the state bird (red cardinal) and state flower (the beautiful peony.) Look at all the meaningful terms used in just this one sentence that helps draw a mental picture related to this single place.
We all live on this land, so in some ways, we are already students of geography. We use words as tools to describe what we see around us and communicate it to others. Not just the proper names of places but where it is located, what is its history, and who lives there. We are also curious about our world and its geography, exploring our planet from the early days of our civilization. Learning and sometimes correcting our understanding, then sharing those discoveries through the written word.
But why else is geography important? If we understand geography, we are better able to understand broader economic and cultural topics related to our world. From environmental impacts, health, and wellness to resource management, so many aspects of HOW we live are dependent on WHERE we live. And there is probably not a single place geographically speaking that doesn’t have some issues that will need resolution in the near future. How will our children cope with this scale of problem-solving if they have no base to build on? The tools they need are right in front of us. Literacy in relation to geography gives us the chance to use descriptive terms to compare and contrast places, seeing their likenesses and differences. Learning geography gives us an understanding of how specific areas of our world relate to one another on a broader scale and may help us see areas of common interest (and a chance to work together) for the challenges we will face in the future.
My GPS Isn’t Working!
What a world we live in today where we don’t actually need to know how to find our way around. Our smartphones are right there with a GPS at our fingertips to tell us where we are. Forget geography, we’ve got it covered…or do we? What happens to us when the battery dies, or we end up in a place with shockingly no cell service? We can’t even bring up a map to look at. What happens to us then? Perhaps we just need to be a little better prepared!
Ever watch some of the late-night television shows when they ask people on the street where Chicago is? East or West of the Mississippi River? Most folks get it wrong (the answer is East.) People today seem to have no idea where major landmarks actually are in our country let alone in our world. Geography seems to have little to no meaning; map reading is a part of our historical past. After all, Siri is telling us what road to take and where to turn. But what happens when GPS is not available? What can we rely on to tell us where we are? Surprisingly, we have an internal compass called a ‘sense of direction’ that can help us decipher where we are. We begin by tapping into our spatial awareness (up/down, left/right, backward/forward) to create mental maps of places we have been. We use mental landmarks like a mountain, a river, the color of a house, a unique tree, and even a street sign to help build that map. Think for a moment… do you use your GPS to go somewhere that you travel to regularly? Likely not, so how do you know where to go? It’s your mental map doing the work.
Still not sure we have an innate ability to know where we are? Take a person from the West Coast who is comfortable with the ocean always to their west and move them to the East Coast where the ocean is always to the East. Then ask them to point out the north and south. Your internal map tells you where it thinks the water is because it has always been to the west. So, when facing the ocean, north is a right-hand turn and south is a left-hand turn. But that’s not true If you are on the East Coast and facing the water, it is the other way around! For sure your mind is going to tell you differently for a while to get you re-oriented to your new location because it has embedded some parameters on that mental map (like where the ocean is) that need some adjustments!
The need to know where we are and how to get from point A to point B is not new. In times not that long ago, we relied on the sun and the stars to help us navigate. We created compasses and sextants to help with navigation. Look at a map from several hundred years ago and it looks nothing like our world maps today. While geography has changed over time, our ability to see it from more angles has changed even more. Top-down, bottom-up, and even from space, we can analyze and record changes in our world more rapidly than ever before. Understanding our geography may feel like it should be relegated to scientists but really, it belongs to all of us in helping us make sense of the world around us.