Photo: Map of the world showing areas of freshwater

Map image from National Geographic Atlas of the World, Ninth Edition

Download a PDF of this activity.

Building a strong “geo-vocabulary” is an important part of learning geography.  But simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution to this learning challenge is to turn the task into a game in which students take charge of their own learning. For example, students can participate in an atlas-based scavenger hunt to learn new information and also become more familiar with the atlas as an important tool of geography.

Conducting a Geo-Scavenger Hunt

a) Divide students into teams of two or three. Then provide each team with several atlases and copies of the handout.

b) Explain to students that their task is to use the atlases and the clues provided in the handout to identify 26 place locations that begin with the letters of the alphabet – A to Z.

Geo-Scavenger Hunt Key

A: Atacama
B: Baikal
C: Cuba
D: Darfur
E:  Elba
F:  Faroe Islands
G: Guadalcanal
H: Hatteras
I:  Iguaçu
J:  James River
K: Karakum
L:  Limpopo
M: Marquesas Islands
N:  Nile River
O:  Ob River
P:  Paraná River
Q:  Queen Maud Land
R:  Rhine River
S:  Sumatra
T:  Thames River
U:  Ucayali River
V:  Viti Levu
W: Weddell Sea
X:  Xizang
Y:  Yalu River
Z:  Zanzibar

Extending the Activity

a) Distribute blank world physical maps.

b) Have students use the atlases to locate and label each of the place locations identified in the Geo-Scavenger Hunt on blank world maps.

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