Geography Pictionary

Boy drawing a map on a chalkboard

Playing geography Pictionary is a great way to reinforce geography facts and concepts, and setting up a fun game is easier than finding state capitals on a map.

About Pictionary

Pictionary is a classic "quick draw" game that has been a family and party favorite for more than 20 years. Classic Pictionary involves teams of players who compete to draw pictures that will lead their teammates to guess an assigned word drawn from a card deck with different categories, including actions, objects, people, and more. When the team guesses correctly, they roll the die to move along a game board and the next square they land on will determine which type of word they draw next. The first team to reach the finish is victorious.

The immense popularity of Pictionary has led to a number of themed versions that focus on specialized topics, including the Simpsons, National Parks, Nascar, Austin Powers, the Bible, the Armed Forces, and more. A Junior Pictionary version is also available with simpler words and concepts for younger players to enjoy as well as a pocket-sized travel version for on the road fun. There are even video game and computer versions available.

Creating a Geography Pictionary Game

Two school children doing school work

While there is no explicit geography themed version of the game, classroom teachers have created makeshift versions related to important geography concepts for years. This creates an educational game that help students with more visual or kinesthetic (action-oriented) learning styles grasp key facts more quickly.

For Whom?

Anyone can enjoy a game of Pictionary with geography concepts, but certain groups of people may get more than just a fun time out of the activity. Classroom teachers and home school instructors can use Pictionary-style games as edutainment to review geography concepts, and parents can create a family game night before traveling to teach their children about where they will be going. Geography facts can also be combined with current events and world trends to reinforce other concepts inside and outside the classroom.

Game Card Ideas

The first step to creating a geography Pictionary game is to create the drawing concept cards players will choose at the beginning of each turn. Simple note cards or slips of paper are adequate, and at least two dozen different cards should be made to ensure an adequate supply. Ideas and examples for geography terms to draw include:

  • Continents: Asia, Europe, North America.
  • Countries: Portugal, Brazil, Kenya.
  • Major Cities: New York, Beijing, Saigon.
  • Capital Cities: Paris, Rome, Washington DC.
  • Famous Landmarks: The Great Wall of China, the Golden Gate Bridge.
  • General or Specific Geographical Features: Mountains, rivers, the Great Salt Lake.
  • Oceans: Atlantic, Arctic, Indian.
  • States: Mississippi, Oregon, Vermont.
  • Modes of Travel between Geographic Places: Planes, trains, cruise ships.
  • Geography-Related Items: Map, compass, time zones.

When choosing ideas for game cards, be sure to select a range of both easy and difficult items and have extra cards in case alternates are needed.

Game Play Ideas

While classic Pictionary requires teams, a geography Pictionary game can be played in different ways. If an entire class is participating, different teams could compete for extra credit or class participation points or as a unit or test review. If a smaller group of people is playing, individual point tallies could be kept and teams are not needed. Time limits could be imposed to ensure that a certain number of cards are used. No game board or finish line is necessary for a simple game, though it may add a level of competition lacking in a less structured game.

For Advanced Difficulty

To add more difficulty to geography Pictionary games, teachers and parents could impose several types of restrictions:

  • Time limits on drawing or guessing
  • Swap drawers after a short time so everyone builds on previous drawings
  • Limiting the number of guesses a team or an individual may make
  • Not allowing letters or numbers to be part of drawings
  • Not allowing country or state outlines to be used while drawing
  • Adding extra questions after a correct answer for full credit, such as locating the object on a map, spelling the name correctly, or reciting another related fact

More Pictionary Tips

For a successful Pictionary round, follow these game tips:

  • Use a chalkboard or white board that can be easily erased between turns
  • Have plenty of chalk, markers, pencils, or other drawing tools available
  • Control rambunctious behavior such as shouting or other poor sportsmanship
  • Do not permit critiques based on artistic skill

Geography Pictionary can be a fun game for students, teachers, and parents alike. The simplicity of the game and the wide range of available topics to choose from ensure that it will be a favorite for years.

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