A Kid’s Guide to Physical Geography in Spanish
If you want to teach geography in Spanish to your children or students, you have to make it interesting for them. The good news is that geography is one of the subjects that better captures the imagination of kids around the world.
In this blog post, I’m discussing what geography is and why you should teach it in Spanish to your kids. I’m focusing on physical geography and the terms related to it, both in English and Spanish. Finally, I’m giving you ideas about how to better introduce the subject to your kids and I’m including a quiz about geography in Spanish at the end of the lesson.
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What Is Geography?
Geography is a subject that many kids love because they find it fun and interesting. Geography class captures their imagination with cool things such as volcanoes, planets, all kinds of living things, and people.
A geography teacher is a person in charge of introducing this science that studies the Earth’s surface, its atmosphere, and the different continents, mountains, oceans, and rivers of this beautiful planet we live on.
What Does Geography Study?
This is a similar question to that of “what is geography?” however, it’s important to make this distinction because geography studies basically two things: people and places.
When geography studies people it’s called “human geography” and focuses on the activities of humans and their effects on the planet. This subject is usually taught at higher levels such as middle and high school.
When geography focuses on places it’s called “physical geography” and studies the natural features of Earth, the environment, and the different natural phenomena occurring on our planet. This subject is usually taught at elementary school because of its potential to catch children’s imagination, and this is the geography in Spanish that I’ll be discussing throughout this blog post.
Why You Should Teach Geography in Spanish to Your Kids
Teaching Spanish to your children or students opens their eyes to a whole world beyond their own culture and community. This global awareness is only fortified when you add geography in Spanish as a way to understand the world through science but in a different language.
Besides, geography is just one more area of knowledge that your kids need to learn to be able to say that they’re fluent in Spanish, just as they need to learn about math, music, or sports in Spanish.
Geography in Spanish
All that said, it’s time to learn some geography terms, geography cognates, and even slang geography words in Spanish. But first, let’s start studying the meaning of geography and its history.
Like many words in English and Spanish, geografía or “geography” comes from a Greek word, which in this case is “geographia”. In Greek, “geo” means Tierra or “Earth,” and “graphia” escritura or writing.
In short, geografía means escribir sobre la Tierra or “to write about the Earth.”
History and Geography
El padre de la geografía or “father of geography” is the Greek Eratosthenes who was the first person ever to use the term geografía or “geography,” back in the 3rd century B.C. But Eratosthenes did much more than just naming this amazing science, he also was able to calculate the Earth’s circumference when many people still believed that the world was flat (as they still do in our days). Finally, Eratosthenes calculated the tilt of the Earth’s axis too.
- la Tierra – Earth
- el mundo – world
- plano(a) – flat
- la inclinación – tilt
- el eje – axis
A cognate is a word with a similar sound in two different languages, in this case Spanish and English.
- la circunferencia – circumference
Geography Vocabulary in Spanish
The five themes of geography in Spanish are:
- La ubicación – location
- El lugar – place
- El movimiento – movement
- La interacción humana con el medio ambiente – human environment interaction
- La región – region
As a subject that deals with places, location, and regions, geography works a lot with other items that kids love: maps! Let’s learn how to spell map in Spanish, which is also one of the most common geography cognates:
- El mapa – map
- El mapa geográfico – mapa de geografía
Use the following geography terms to introduce your kids to different aspects of the world both in English and Spanish.
|el medio ambiente||environment|
|los recursos naturales||natural resources|
|la selva tropical||rain forest|
|la placa tectónica||tectonic plaque|
|el desastre natural||natural disaster|
A good way to introduce this vocabulary guide of geography in Spanish is by playing games with your kids. Two of the most effective and easiest games to prepare to practice new vocabulary are bingo and memory.
Create 3 or 4 different cards with as many as 16 or 20 of the Spanish terms included on the list above, then create a single card for each of the English terms. This way, the competition isn’t only about winning the bingo, but also about learning the new vocabulary.
An alternative way to do this is creating the single cards with the Spanish terms and the bingo big cards with 16 or 20 descriptive images that represent the geography words. This way, your children or students will practice their geography knowledge and their Spanish at the same time.
When I want my students to engage in a new vocabulary topic I always create a set of memory cards that include either the terms in English and Spanish or the Spanish term and a descriptive image.
If you’re already working with maps, I recommend you to print maps without names and challenge your kids to locate in the map different geography items such as continents, countries, cities, or islands. I’ve just worked on this with my 3rd-grade students learning the capitals of Europe, and they embraced the challenge like few other topics before.
I recommend you to visit this website to find ideas about more geography games to introduce your kids to this fun and entertaining subject. Most of these games are in English, but you can easily replicate some of the ideas presented there, tweak them a little bit and teach geography in Spanish by playing games with your children or students.
Finally, one of the most interesting ways to teach geography to kids is by using superlatives. That way, you capture the attention of kids who always want to know about the biggest, deepest, and tallest of anything. A plus of this approach is that you can also introduce superlatives in Spanish to your children or students.
|el/la más grande||biggest, largest|
|el/la más pequeño(a)||smallest|
|el/la más alto(a)||tallest, highest|
|el/la más largo(a)||longest|
|el más profundo||deepest|
|el más frío||coldest|
|el más caliente||hottest|
Teach Geography and Spanish to Your Kids
Teaching geography in Spanish to your kids is a big opportunity for you as a parent or teacher, as this is one of the subjects that better fit their interests. Geography also lends itself very well to introduce new Spanish terms and learning both subjects at the same time (geography and Spanish).
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