In the Beginning
First, you need to find a group of homeschooling moms to pitch your idea to. It’s not hard to sell this idea; it’s a win-win situation!
1. You (yes, the entire family) will learn about another place and culture.
2. Your student will interact with people of all ages– answering questions, sharing interesting information, and even learning from some of the people attending from the fair.
3. Family and friends will see that your student really DOES school and that there are other crazy homeschooling families out there, too (and they also really do school!).
4. People attending the Geography Fair will learn about many different countries.
5. Your student will also learn about (and become interested in) many cultures & countries as he visits the displays of other homeschoolers.
6. With your guidance, your student will learn the basics of research and planning as you work together to make this project a reality.
Once I had my homeschool co-op on board, we determined a date. We thought the fall would work best due to the bad winter weather and the busy spring season. I emailed everyone some basic ideas/guidelines. You can print a copy if you want.
Geography Fair Guidelines
A Geography Fair provides a creative approach to learning Geography. The concept is simple — each student researches a country or region and reports to the group using displays, posters, reports (oral and/or written), games, etc.
Choose a country. Submit the choice for approval. Once you have approval, start researching the country you’ve selected.
Show the location of the country using maps (you can photocopy pictures or draw your own map…you could even make a salt dough map if you want a 3-D design). List the country’s physical characteristics including climate and landforms. Pictures (mountains, rivers, etc.) are appropriate here. Show the country’s flag (sew one if you are ambitious) and other national symbols.
Show the total population and also interesting facts like population of ethnic or religious groups. This is a good place for charts and graphs.
Explain cultural characteristics of the country such as language, food, religion, entertainment, clothing, games, popular sports, holidays, etc. If possible, you could add some real clothes or real food samples to your display. You could teach the people who visit your display a simple game. You could set up a CD player and headphones with some traditional music to listen to…really, the options are limitless!
Culture is usually the best part of learning about another country. Have fun with this one! Even your littlest learners can be involved. Younger students may want to focus solely on culture since some of the other options (history, population, etc.) may be irrelevant.
Tell when and how the country became a country. List significant
events in the country’s history. You may want to make a timeline for this part of your display.
What kind of work is common? What are the main products produced? What products are exported? What products are imported? How do people live? Where do they live? What are the cities like? What are the rural areas like? How have geographical features affected the economy?
Find other interesting facts about the country. In what ways is this country unique? In what ways is it like other countries? What plants and animals are unique to the country? Compare and contrast the country to the United States (or your country).
As you research, you will need to decide how to present the information. Use many different avenues! A few options include:
1. Prepare written report(s)
2. Create a table-top display with small items from the country
3. Design a poster
4. Tri-fold board display
5. Make a Lapbook
6. Write a song or make a skit to perform as people walk by your table
7. Create a game (matching game, puzzle game, etc.) for your display
8. Make a pamphlet (tour guide) or a small scrapbook with pictures from your “visit” to the country
9. Books to look at. You can add a summary of the book to your display. You could also make an entire project to go with the book. If your country has lots of folk tales or fairy tales, it’s especially fun to include some of these.
10. Use a laptop computer to display short video clips, a slide show, or a power point presentation.
A Few More Things
~Encourage the families to start working about 6-8 weeks ahead of time. Doing the project bit by bit will keep the child from burning out. Elijah did one project per week. The week before the fair, we spent a lot of time just working on the fair, but I am so glad we didn’t wait until the last week to do everything.
~Remind people that this isn’t a competition. Students should do their best with what they have. Some countries are easier than others. Some families have more people working on the project than others. Just have fun and enjoy the learning!
~Mail and e-mail the invitations 2-3 weeks before the event. Here is a sample invitation from our fair. Students may want to call family and friends about 1 week before the fair to ask if they are coming.
~We decided the fair would last two hours. Most of our family and friends came the first hour. We let the students leave their posts after one hour to complete a Country Hunt (scavenger hunt form). We also had the scavenger hunt out for the adults at the welcome area. I can’t believe how many adults chose to fill out the form! Next time I will have prizes to hand out to anyone who finishes the country hunt.
~In order to create the Country Hunt, I had moms send me fun facts (about one week before the fair). I used three facts from each country. Questions were like these– Where in the would would you find a tap-tap?, What country produces the most maple syrup in the world?
~You don’t need a ton of people to pull this off. We only had eight displays at our fair, and it was great. I would say the ideal number would be between 10-15, but you could definitely go larger. If the fair is larger than 15 displays, I would not do a Country Hunt.
~If you can, set up the night before the fair. It takes some of the stress off; it also might give the moms a chance to look at the other displays!
I hope this is helpful. If you have any questions, I will be happy to answer.