Insights from the School of Education and Social Policy at Merrimack College

World geography knowledge is not a strong point for children in the United States. That’s why teaching geography is a focus for elementary school teachers who are trying to turn around the statistics in this area. One of the tools they use is a world geography bulletin board. The National Assessment of Educational Progress found in 2014 that 75% of eighth-graders tested below proficiency on world geography, a number that is basically unchanged from 1994. It led to headlines such as “U.S. Students Are Terrible At Geography.” And to teachers focusing on changing it.

Those who earn a Master of Education in Elementary Education are among the leaders in trying to improve that statistic. Geography is so important that Merrimack College dedicates a class in its master’s program to Curriculum, Instruction, and Assessment in Social Studies and World Geography.

Graduates will want to find some fun world geography bulletin board ideas to help their students get interested in knowing why Istanbul was once Constantinople, not to mention where it is located. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind.

Travel Planning

An excellent way to learn about geography is travel planning. Students can have the same experience with this world geography bulletin board idea. This requires laminating a world map and letting students use dry erase markers to plot their course from one point on the map (perhaps their hometown) to a destination on another continent. They then can learn facts such as miles between locations and the various routes they can take (different flight paths, taking a cruise ship, etc.).

Only 100 People

One way to break down the bewildering statistics involving world population (7.7 billion and counting) is to build a graphic for the bulletin board that displays these numbers based on the idea of “if the world had only 100 people.” The website offers statistics based on completing the phrase “if the world had 100 people”:

  • 50 would be female, 50 would be male
  • 60 would be from Asia, 16 from Africa, 10 from Europe, nine from Latin America and the Caribbean and five from North America
  • 86 would be able to read and write
  • 22 people would not have shelter from the wind and the rain
  • 11 would live on less than $2 per day

Understanding Culture

A graphic display that sets down the fundamental aspects of culture can help students understand what culture means before they start studying the differences. This example from Germany delineates the different areas of culture, from food and folk art to work schedules and language.

Flags For Every Nation

Some world maps come with the flags of every nation. However, on a world geography bulletin board, you can highlight different nations each week, or the nations of one continent.

Where In the World?

Students may have heard of different historical landmarks or cities around the world, but they might not have any idea where they are located. These types of maps that illustrate the location of landmarks can be purchased and are inexpensive. However, they are easy enough to make yourself with a world map and images of the landmarks that offer information and pinpoint the exact location.

This handful of ideas can help make your world geography bulletin board even more entertaining and thought-provoking for your students. It only calls for a bit of forethought, a bit of imagination and a good set of push pins.