One thing I learned back when we studied the United States is that Satori has an uncanny spatial memory when it comes to shapes of states. Learning Africa was absolutely no exception! The past month she’s been drawing Africa maps, coloring them in, labeling them…

Doing the Africa GeoPuzzle a few times…

We’ve worked with Shepphard Software and Seterra now and then… Examining all our maps and globes…

Within a few weeks, Satori has all her Africa countries, names, shapes, major geography features memorized, as well as most capitals. I was searching for some way to challenge her more and I thought of a puzzle we could make at home where we wouldn’t label the country names. I think this was more for my benefit, so I could figure out a way to get as good as Satori in memorizing country shapes.

I know you can use the above websites for challenging games that will tackle these skills. But I thought being able to physically manipulate country shapes would be super fun. I had some magnetic sheets lying around, and thought it would be even more cool if we made a magnetic puzzle.

If you already own a printer, you can make your own magnetic maps for just $7.49 with these full-page Avery Magnet Sheets (set of 5). They say they are for Ink Jet printers, but I printed our map on a laser printer and it turned out just fine.

At first I was going to leave it black and white for the ultimate challenge. Then I realized I would probably photo-blog about it, so we ended up coloring them in. Had I known we’d end up coloring the countries, I would’ve just printed them out in color in the first place. Maybe I’ll make another one. If I do, I will print it out on two sheets, to make bigger countries.

After Satori and I colored in all the countries, I carefully cut them apart. It wasn’t as excruciating job as I thought it would be. Here are all the African countries, including island countries.

Our first inclination was to piece together the puzzle on our magnetic whiteboard. However, some of the pieces are tiny and gravity made them fall when we tried picking them up from the board.

Closer look…

The completed puzzle.

 

Eventually we used one of the magnetic sheets itself to put the puzzle together. It will also make nice storage, I’ll just put it all in a zip bag and we’re done!

Satori’s knowledge (and mom’s) has come in so handy already! The latest National Geographic magazines had articles on several African countries, so we were able to visualize exactly where the volcano was, where the elusive Coelacanth fish was found, and more. Coincidentally, we had a chance to hang out with two people from Africa – David’s coworker from South Africa, and Satori’s friend’s dad from Zimbabwe. She was able to answer their geography questions perfectly. What’s the northernmost African country? (Tunisia) What’s the only country surrounded completely by another country? (Lesotho) What country is west of Egypt and what’s the capital? (Libya/Tripoli)

We’ll keep on top of our skills by making sure she quizzes herself every now and then using online geography games.

I am not sure why we started with the hardest continent with 53 countries, but next week we’ll be starting to learn Europe!