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Life is an Open-Atlas Test

February 12, 2014

globe2By Sarah Vander Schaaff

Ok, I admit it, I don’t know where Azerbaijan is on a map. I know where it is not, generally speaking, and where it is most likely, generally speaking, but that does little good when your eight year old turns to you during the Olympic Parade of Nations, and asks, “So, Mom, where is that country?”

“Hum. That’s a really good question. Oh, look, it’s Matt Lauer!”

As my husband pointed out, the fact that the delegations were arranged in Cyrillic alphabetical order only added to the appearance of our parental ineptitude. I say “appearance” of ineptitude; my children may have a different opinion.

While it may be a little late, there are still several more days to redeem oneself, if not in Sochi then at least at home.

Yes, I can read a map.

The question these days is:  where to find one.

And that question is not as simplistic as it sounds. Where to find information is the very skill our children will need most to hone. While we may have been better off memorizing our geography facts, our children need to know where to find the source with the most accurate and updated information.

Yes, life is now an open-book test. So, when a third-grader is hurling questions at you faster than a speeding luge, where do you turn?

After a bit of searching, I finally decided to go to the place I should have gone to all along, the official Olympic website. There, if you click on the Countries Tab, you’ll find a large world map with the flags of every participating country, placed, logically, on each country. There is also a place to enter the name of a country, after which a little flag will pop up and you’ll be able to see just exactly where Azerbaijan is.

Screen Shot 2014-02-12 at 11.32.14 AM

Even better, a person can then click on the flag and be taken to a webpage devoted to information about the country and its delegation.

Sounds good, but there are no lines on the larger world map to delineate the shape or size of the countries. We’ve got flags. We’ve got locations. We’ve got the right continents. But we don’t have shapes.

“Ah,” I thought, trying to unearth the point of omitting those arbitrary but useful boundaries. “Perhaps this is a beautiful thing– symbolic of the spirit of unity.”

Then I decided to go find our globe.

If a globe won’t fit next to you on the couch, you may want to turn to these resources to help you out.  Below are Nancy’s picks for some accurate sources. When Mindprint launches in a few months, we’ll be able to tailor the list to your child, until then, let the games begin!

Geo Challenge

Stack the Countries

Map My Globe

My Book of Mazes Around the World. (Workbook)


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