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This geography map competition idea helps students quickly learn the names of countries, states, landforms, etc.


Social Studies  


9, 10, 11, 12  


Title – Geography Competition
By – Jeanne Grimes
Primary Subject – Social Studies
Grade Level – 9-12

Objective: Demonstrate knowledge of locations on a map.

This competition helps students learn landforms, water bodies, countries, and so forth on a map quickly and easily. This lesson plan is not original. I was given the idea from a former social studies colleague, Mr. Roger Flinchum.

  1. Select a map that students are comfortable with. Depending on the unit you are working on, you may use a specific continent or the world map. It is a good idea to use the copier to increase the size of the map to 11 by 17 or a similar size. You will need one map per group of students.
  2. Divide your class into groups of equal students. Groups of four are your best bet. It is a good idea to divide the group based on geography knowledge also. Make sure that your best geography students are distributed as evenly as possible in various groups.
  3. Have students in each team face each other and clear their desks or tables except for a pen or pencil.
  4. Each group selects a team name that means something to them. Then they select the order in which they will enter the competition. (If you have groups of four, you have team member #1, team member #2, and so forth.
  5. Give team member #1 the blank map, as #1 will go first, #2 second, and so forth.

    Directions (example is for European countries) :
    “This is a team competition. The idea is that you will contribute to your team your knowledge of European countries. When I ask you to begin, each team member, one at a time, will label as many countries of Europe as they can on the map. Spelling counts and there will be no abbreviations. When I call time or next, pass the map on team member #2. Team member #2 will, in turn, locate as many countries as he or she can that have not been already labeled. We will continue this procedure until every team member has had equal time to label the map. When all team members have had a turn, we will count the locations, and the most locations win. There is absolutely no talking during the competition or your team will be disqualified.”

  6. If you have an odd number of students in a team, one member will have to go twice.
  7. Give students a practice round of about 15 seconds each to let them get the idea of the competition. Give them a new map and begin again! Choose time according to the map you are using. Students may need more seconds for world maps and less for continent maps. I generally find that 30 seconds to a minute is plenty of time to begin.
  8. After a practice round or two, give students about five minutes to study and then try again. Then announce the date for the next competition and send students home with blank maps. They will actually study and learn their locations!

After some time, change the groups around to form new competitions. The possibilities are endless!

E-Mail Jeanne Grimes !

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