Globalmania is a free digital course that helps children learn the locations of continents, countries, capitals, major cities, mountains, rivers, and bodies of water for world and U.S. geography. It allots a month each to the study of Asia, Africa, Europe, the United States, North America, South America, and Australasia/Antarctica. The course requires only a half hour to an hour per week for four weeks for each of these seven sections. While students can take a full seven months to complete the course, it can easily be done in less time. The course is dependent upon the student having a computer and an internet connection because a major portion of the learning happens through interactive games and activities that are found at various online sites.
Each month, students will follow the same lesson plan as they study each geographic area. The first week’s lesson begins with a geography game that quizzes students on their prior knowledge of countries, capitals, and major cities. You choose the geographical area that is to be studied that month. Students are allowed three tries before the computer provides the correct answer. Students with no prior familiarity might find this frustrating, so a parent might play the first round with a student to prevent discouragement. Students will be scored, and they can replay as many times as they wish to improve their score.
The second week, students should play two or three more online games from the list provided in Globalmania. Games vary in design, so descriptions in Globalmania will help you decide which are most appropriate for each child.
For the third week, students begin their own map work and continue to play whichever games are most helpful or most enjoyable. Globalmania includes eight sets of maps, with sets covering each region and one set covering the entire world. Each set has three pages. The first page is a completed map with countries identified. The second is an outline map for students to complete and color if they wish. The third page is a map grid for students to draw the continent and countries themselves. You should use the first map as an answer key or as a guide for younger students if necessary. You will need to consult other maps for the locations and names of cities, rivers, and other geographic features since few features other than the country names are included on the labeled map. If a student is struggling with map completion, Globalmania suggests that they stop and play one or more of the games to refresh their memory before continuing.
In the fourth week, students are ready to play geography games against other children online. Two sites for this are suggested. They can also complete some map work, adding the countries of the geographic area they’ve just finished studying to the world map.
It is not clear when students are to tackle creating their own maps on the grid page, but that would be a project I would recommend for any student who feels able to do so in the fourth week.
When there are five weeks in a month, you can use the fifth week for review of all areas studied up to that point. Additional websites with other games are suggested for students to play once they have completed the course.
Globalmania takes advantage of the wealth of free learning games already available online, making them the primary learning tool for students. The Globalmania maps serve as an accountability tool. The maps are also likely to prove useful for review in future years since you can easily reprint copies whenever you want to use them.
Most students are likely to enjoy this approach, although they will have to experiment to find the games that best suit their level of knowledge and skill. Parents need to be involved enough that they are able to evaluate student map work for accuracy. Parents should probably also preview games and make recommendations to their children.
Any child who can read well enough to use the online games should be able to use Globalmania, and it’s challenging enough for high school students too! The variety of online sites suggested also helps you tailor the course to each child’s level.
While Globalmania is narrowly focused on map identification in contrast to a comprehensive geography course that includes cultural studies, it is a surprisingly helpful resource for something available at no cost.