Learning European geography is easy and fun with these aids

Learning European geography is easy and fun with these aids

by Karen Bradbury
Stripes Europe

One of the joys of a tour of duty or assignment taking you to the heart of Europe is the chance to travel far and wide. And naturally, the more you travel, the better you get to know the countries, borders and topography of the 44 nations that, according to the United Nations, make up Europe today.

These websites, apps and good old-fashioned learning tools will help you to virtually explore Europe.

Geography games: Seterra offers no end of geography games to keep both kids and adults alike busily clicking away at the countries or cities they’re prompted to find on a blank map of the continent as the timer keeps ticking away. Once you’ve managed to place everything on the map, a score of your accuracy and speed appears, which you can then pin and share with others online if you’re logged in. Once you’ve mastered countries, you can tackle bodies of water, mountain ranges, rivers, flags, states within countries or even wine regions.

Blank sheets to fill in: For offline fun, Seterra also offers pdf copies of maps –blank, labeled or in quiz form, which can be printed out and used accordingly. Maps of not only countries but rivers, mountain ranges and other geographical features offer additional challenges. For a fun take on maps in times to come, tape a blank map of Europe on your fridge door and color in each country you visit upon your return home.

Flashcards: There’s no need to go out and buy flashcards when you can make a stack of them on your own, you may well already have your favorite sites for generating learning resources. Google “online flashcards printable template” for a number of options, or use PowerPoint – wikiHow can walk you through the process. You could also print out a deck of one-sided cards for playing a matching game to test the memory. Scatter the cards face down and take turns turning two over as you strive to match images of rivers, flags or capitals with their proper labels.

European Union learning aids: The official website of the European Union offers a range of resources for teachers, tailored to various age groups, on its Learning Corner. Games, worksheets, videos, comics, slides and much more are available. You can print and download many of the materials directly from the website, or order a paper copy via the EU publication website.

Puzzles and games: When it comes to quality puzzles, those made by the German game and toy company Ravensburger are hard to beat. For a challenge the whole family can get behind, you could try your hand at assembling its “17080 Beautiful Places of Europe,” a 3000-piece puzzle featuring 99 images of iconic places across Europe.

Maps: One of your most basic learning tools is an atlas, and National Geographic sells a broad range of maps, including huge laminated ones. Invest in a good one, along with colored pins, to show where you’ve been and the destinations to which you aspire, or let each family member plot a trip to his or her dream destination.

Euro coin collecting: You’ve probably noticed that the one and two-euro coins feature both a common and national side, one with a map of Europe and the other with a country-specific image. Invest in a slotted album for collecting one or two-euro coins from the Euro-area Member States and other entities who have adopted the single currency of the European Union. If you’re in Germany, you can find these albums sold in many of the country’s chain bookstores – if you are unable to locate one on your own, ask the clerk for a “Euro Münzen Sammelalbum.”

Dedicate an entire wall of your home to Europe: It’s a bit of a shame to invest such love and care into a wall in a place you won’t be calling home forever, but what a conversation piece you’ll have in the meantime! Create your own oversize map by first painting or papering a wall white, then using the grid method to create an outline of the nations of Europe. You can then hang all those souvenirs, pins or postcards you collect from all the countries you visit in their proper places.

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