Continental drift


POSTED: Friday, May 15, 2009

Fifth-grader Maribeth Ganiron said learning geography by walking on a giant map on the classroom floor was “;better than reading a book.”;

“;We get to do more than just look at it. On the map you can move around. ... It helps me remember where things are better,”; she said.

Teacher Gail Kono used the largest visual aid she could find to get students at Kaleiopuu Elementary School in Kunia interested in geography, a 26-by-35-foot map of North America.

The vinyl National Geographic Giant Traveling Map covers the floor so students can walk on it to explore the physical characteristics of the continent and play games to make it a fun, interactive experience, said Kono, who teaches fifth grade.

This is the first time Kono has borrowed a traveling map, the third in a series loaned to schools throughout the country since 2006. (The first two were of Africa and Asia.) During a two-week period, all grade levels took part in age-appropriate activities that helped them retain more information, Kono said.

“;The other teachers told me their students were still talking about it as days went on,”; she added.

Ganiron said everyone laughed as they pretended to make snow angels in cold areas, swim in the oceans and climb mountain ranges.

Classmate Francisco Villa danced a snappy salsa as he stood over Mexico, where he has visited relatives many times. He said he also reeled in a fishing line while standing in the Bay of Fundy between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick and got to scream and panic during a game of “;Simon Says ... Explore!”; when someone told him to pretend an earthquake hit Washington state, where he was born.

“;We can learn and have fun at the same time,”; Villa said.

Third-graders played “;Grocery Store Geography,”; using fake food items and containers to help them learn about foods produced in different climates. Then they tossed beanbags onto areas of the map that corresponded to the food they were studying.

The map, based on the National Geographic Atlas of the World, eighth edition, came with a trunk full of games, atlases and history books, Kono said. For borrowing information or to download map activities, visit ngsednet.org/giantmaps.