How many of your students know which states border Lake Michigan or in which African country Mount Kilimanjaro is located? We talked to two teachers who are helping their students become geography gurus using the popular review game, Kahoot. They shared eight tips for holding a mock geography bee in your own classroom using Kahoot created by National Geographic. The questions were originally designed to help kids prep for the National Geographic Bee, an annual competition for kids in grades 4–8, but they’re also a fun and simple way to get kids excited about learning geography.
1. Test-Drive the Questions
It’s a good idea to take a look at the Kahoot questions before playing with your class so you can anticipate areas where your students may struggle. You can hold a mock bee with your family or try it out solo like Ashley Peterson, a fourth grade teacher at Long Hill Elementary School in Fayetteville, North Carolina, did. “I’m a foodie so I enjoyed playing U.S. Food Faves first!” It asks all about the famous foods that originated in various states and landmarks. Did you know that Doritos were invented in the 1960s at Disneyland in Santa Ana Valley, California?
2. Warm Up Before the Competition Starts
Some kids get really competitive when playing Kahoot, which is great for motivation, but it helps to ease them into it with a warm-up activity. “I had a few students who were getting frustrated because it was new material and they didn’t know all the answers,” Peterson explained. “Quiz, Quiz, Trade is a great activity to review facts before using Kahoot because it’s not competitive yet allows students to move around and work together.” Try Quiz, Quiz, Trade to build their confidence in geography before the bee by pairing up students and having them ask and answer geography questions you provide.
3. Try 1:1 Mode to Figure Out Which Kids Need More Help
If your classroom has enough 1:1 devices available, Peterson and Michelle Goldman, a fifth grade teacher at Country Hills Elementary School in Coral Springs, Florida, both recommend using that mode and letting students answer on their own. “The students were still allowed to collaborate with one another because I knew they would not be able to answer all the questions on their own,” Peterson explains. “And playing 1:1 allowed me to look at the data afterward. It’s a perfect way to review which students need more instruction.”
4. Save It for the Last Lesson of the Day
Because the game is competitive and can take up a good chunk of time, Peterson recommends playing it before dismissal. “The Kahoot took about 25 minutes because we discussed each place and state in the Road Trip U.S.A. game,” she says. Goldman did the same, but because social studies is her last subject of the day, she used the Kahoot to jump-start that day’s lesson.
5. Use Kahoot as an Intro to Geography
Even though their schools don’t officially have world geography integrated into the curriculum, Goldman and Peterson noticed their students were really interested in it. “My students liked how the game had vivid images,” says Peterson. Goldman was impressed with how quickly her class caught on and devoured the new information. Categories like Awesome Adventures really opened their minds. Many students went home and tried to stump their parents with questions like “Runners travel about 150 miles in a desert race called the Gobi March in which Asian country?” The answer? China!
6. Use It as an Unexpected Confidence Booster
A big benefit of playing the Kahoots is watching kids become more confident in their geography knowledge. Learning important bits of information—like that Texas is the leading producer of gas and oil in the U.S. in the U.S. State Savvy Kahoot—gives kids a great sense of pride in their country and their ability to absorb new facts. Since the game is fast-paced, it helps students retain the information and trust their instincts too. “As I was watching my class play, it did show me that many of my students procrastinate when making decisions they’re unsure of,” Goldman told us. “Using this Kahoot helped since the game is all about speed and accuracy.”
7. Get Inspired for Future Geography Lessons in Your Classroom
Because the fourth grade geography curriculum in North Carolina only focuses on the state itself, Peterson likes that her students expressed a genuine desire to learn more about U.S. geography after they played the National Geographic Kahoot. “I thought some of my students would have more understanding of the U.S. because their families are in the military and have traveled frequently,” said Peterson. “It was an eye-opener to see just how much or how little the students know about geography outside of our state. One of my goals this year was to incorporate more global connections, and these Kahoots are one way to do it.”
8. Use Kahoot to Prep for the National Geographic Bee.
Holding a geography bee in her classroom helped Peterson make an interesting discovery about her school’s history. “I found out we use to hold a geography bee at our school, but it has not been held in several years,” said Peterson. “Now, I hope to find another colleague who is interested in bringing it back!” If holding a mock geography bee in your classroom inspires you to do something bigger, like the National Geographic Bee, you’ll want to bookmark these Kahoots to use to help your students prepare. If they participate in the competition, not only will they hone their geography skills, they’ll also have a chance to win college scholarships!