Welcome to the Puzzling with Places series. Each book tests your knack for geography with sixty of the world’s great sights and landmarks, both natural and constructed. Challenge yourself for points or go head-to-head with friends. For parents and educators, these puzzles are a valuable tool for teaching geography. They lead to greater awareness and understanding of new lands and people, and can be easily adapted for younger students. This book has a way of bringing these faraway lands just a bit closer. A spark of curiosity becomes kindled and understanding sets in that the world truly is a wondrous place.
The world is becoming an interconnected, global society, which makes understanding of foreign lands and cultures more important than ever. Clearly, the teaching of geography must become a priority in our schools, so I began work on this series with the needs of educators in mind, and that certainly includes any parents who want to provide challenging learning experiences for their kids.
The puzzles in this book are great for high school on up, but can also easily be adapted for younger grades. I have been a teacher since 1986, and world geography has always for me been a favorite subject. My current class of gifted fourth and fifth graders is given a page or two of puzzles at the start of each week. I go over the questions, check for understanding, and then post the puzzles in a prominent location. The students have the rest of the week to seek their answers. It might seem sacrilegious for an author to suggest, but for classroom teachers I recommend taking this book apart and laminating the individual pages so they are well-protected and easy to display.
So, how do kids take on geography puzzles that are quite challenging for adults? Well, they get to use the library and Internet to facilitate their search. After all, my purpose goes beyond just sparking an interest and awareness in people and places, but includes teaching my students how to conduct basic research and use effective questioning and key words to narrow the focus of their search. These are vital skills in today’s world, and my students feel a real sense of accomplishment when their perseverance pays off.
Students also learn quickly that there are many clues hidden within the pictures and within the context of the questions themselves. They become more observant, noting in the photographs people’s clothing and facial characteristics, unusual building architecture, land topography, climate, and identifiable flora and fauna. The students become detective sleuths in their search for clues, which of course adds to the fun. Teachers can drop occasional hints during the week whenever the need arises, more so, of course, for the younger grades. When students turn in their answers, scoring is just a matter of tallying points. For me, it is always fun to hear the cheers and groans when I announce the correct answers. The class enjoys these challenges, and never suspects the learning that has taken place. I get real satisfaction knowing that these kids are sharing a bit of my enthusiasm for geography and travel.
It did not occur to me until I started putting these books together how much fun the puzzles could also be for adults. I love testing my knowledge of world geography and famous landmarks, both natural and constructed. So, with adults in mind, I divided the book into four games, fifteen puzzles per game. People can challenge themselves, take on a friend head to head, or have teams battle for the geography crown. So, whether you are a student, teacher, parent, or anyone just looking for an interesting challenge, have fun Puzzling with Places.