The Lonely Planet Not-for-Parents Teaching Guide: KS2 Activity Pack is an amazing resource that is available for free. Access it by clicking here. It appears that Lonely Planet created it as a companion for another book they published, The Travel Book: Cool Stuff to Know about Every Country in the World. That title has since been replaced by The Lonely Planet Kids Travel Book: Mind-Blowing Stuff on Every Country in the World. Either version of the Travel Book should work with this guide.
The Travel Book can serve as the data source for the activities presented in this teaching guide. However, Lonely Planet created the teaching guide for classrooms and wrote it in such a way that students can instead use other resources than The Travel Book.
I can envision using these activities with students in grades four through six. I would be more inclined to use The Travel Book as the source of information with younger students and Internet research with fifth and sixth graders.
The 50-page Lonely Planet Not-for-Parents Teaching Guide: KS2 Activity Pack, available only as a PDF document, presents two extensive sets of activities. The first set helps inspire students’ interest in other countries by making real-life connections. Students will identify the source countries for clothes, books, sports equipment, and other items in their environment. They will think of people they know who have connections to other countries and discuss countries they have visited themselves. Activity pages are used to record their findings. There are also three sets of activity pages that teach about words derived from other languages around the world.
The second section has two different sets of activities. The first set of activities teaches specific geography skills, but it does so indirectly by providing questions for students to research and by having students "Plan a Trip of a Lifetime.” Discovery methods of learning are used throughout the activities. For example, each continent study begins with the same set of questions (changing the name of the continent):
Can you find out fascinating facts about the continent of South America?
1. The biggest and smallest countries in South America
a. Find the names of the two largest and smallest countries in South America and write them on the correct map below.
b. Just how big or small are they? Find and write their size or area in square kilometres (sq.kms.).
c. How many people live in these countries? Find out and write down the population (p.21).
This student research is made easier by the inclusion of thumbnail maps highlighting the locations of countries they should be identifying. Students still need to gather the data for themselves using The Travel Book, other books, or Internet resources.
If I were using this with students in sixth grade or above, I would have them answer the questions without the activity sheets that contain thumbnail maps to make it more challenging.
For each continent, the introductory questions are followed by a set of ten interesting questions (on page 22) such as “What is the Salt Cathedral in Columbia?” and “How did Ecuador get its name?” You can see that just figuring out what to search for on the Internet can really help students develop Internet searching skills!
A second set of activity in this section, “Plan a Trip of a Lifetime,” includes interviewing another person to decide where their trip should take them, researching their destination, and planning two possible itineraries with at least four adventures in each. In a class group, students would create itineraries for each other. So, potentially, every student is both an interviewer/planner and a traveler. The traveler then uses the provided templates for creating postcards to send from their adventures, which, unless they can actually make the trip, requires more research. With only one or two students you will have to get creative as to how to use these activities, but even if you don't do everything, it should be fun.
Activities are accompanied by information for the teacher, including lesson plans, discussion questions, additional teaching suggestions, and answer keys
If you want to control Internet access, have students use resource books such as The Travel Book or find resources at your local library. Students will still need to locate information from within books, so they still develop some research skills. Otherwise, you probably want to monitor online research or use parental controls and/or content blockers to prevent students accessing sites you don't approve.
Personally, I love this type of approach for teaching geography. While it is not a comprehensive course, it should be an enjoyable way to introduce continents and countries.