Imagine being trapped at home with your children thanks to a storm. Oh wait, I’m living this right now as I type. Rather than whine too much about the current weather, I have been thinking outside the box for something educational to do with my boys. Of course, something Disney immediately came to mind.
A mini-lesson on geography seems like a great place to start. As many people living the Disney Driven Life will know, kids of all ages are always asking to go back to their beloved magical lands. Why not take this opportunity to show kids just how near or far you are to Walt Disney World, or another Disney park?
Of course, to do this you will need either a hard copy of a map or computer to use. For older children, a large map from AAA may be a great challenge. For younger kids, there are great United States outline print outs available from Education Place and National Atlas. If you prefer to use a computer, Google Maps is another web site to use with this activity.
Some examples of activities and questions that I will try with my second grader using the general reference map from NationalAtlas.gov are:
- In which direction do you travel from New York to Florida? – Recognizing compass directions using a map.
- Count the number of different states that you drive through/fly over going from New York to Florida. – Map skill development and recognizing state borders.
- If we decide to go to Disneyland instead of Walt Disney World, how many states could we pass through getting to California?
- When traveling to California, in which direction do we need to travel?
- How many more states would you pass through getting to Disneyland? Tell me how you would figure this out. – Connecting math and using problem solving skills.
- Locate and highlight the capitals of each state that you would travel in on the map. – Utilizing the map key.
- What is another city in each state that you travel through on your journey? – Noting difference between capitals and other cities on a map.
- Point out some bodies of water that you may see on your trip. – Recognizing rivers, lakes, oceans on a map. Some maps will be more detailed to name them.
Note: If you live in California or Florida, you could use counties instead of states. There are also state maps in the links above.
There really are a lot of possibilities with a map and a location like Walt Disney World or Disneyland as inspiration. These items could be changed to make them developmentally appropriate for any child. Younger children could make these an enrichment activity with a lot of guidance and modeling. For older kids, it could spur additional research ideas and interest in what they may see along the way. For more advanced studies, pick an international Disney Park and talk about countries you would fly over. Seriously, only your imagination and time are the limit. There’s nothing better than using travel to Disney to spur interest in the world around us.