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Geography        < Previous        Next >


Illustrated Geography


Today's Snack: Have you ever had a "Broccoli Sundae"? It's kind of crazy, but kind of fun, and so good for you to get your veggies. Take a glass or plastic cup. Fill the bottom one-third with chopped fresh broccoli - not big pieces, just the flowerets and finely-chopped stems. Now put in a spoonful of low-fat ranch dressing. Follow it up with a layer of finely-sliced carrot. Then add another spoonful of dressing, and fill the cup to the top with more finely-chopped broccoli. Put a little dollop, or blob, of dressing on the top. Bet you're the only one on your block having THIS today!





Globe or world map

Notebook or paper for drawing

Colored pencils, thin markers or paints



Here are some pretty amazing facts that have to do with geography. You can look them up on a globe or map as you read. There's tons more to be known about each of these places, too. Read through these paragraphs, look up more information on any of them that you'd like, and then pick your favorite fact that you wish to illustrate on paper. The most important thing to do is: zero in!


That's the thing about geography: You have to know the big picture to understand the interesting specific details, and vice versa. So it's a good skill to know how to choose something in particular, and focus in on it.


It's the same thing with successful illustration. When you draw a picture that goes with a story or a piece of information, it should communicate the same thing as the text does, only in the format of art instead of words. It takes as much thinking and care to make an illustration helpful and meaningful as it does to write a story or article that communicates what you want it to.


Let's say you were interested in how penguin fathers in Antarctica stay alive for months taking care of the babies while the moms are off in the fishing grounds. To illustrate that, you wouldn't just draw a picture of the map of Antarctica; that wouldn't "tell your story." You'd probably want to draw a male penguin with a baby on his feet, with interesting ice cliffs behind them, or something to put it into perspective and give meaning to your illustration.


Now that you've zeroed in on your favorite fact from the list below and have decided how to illustrate it, go ahead. You may decide to use some other art supplies besides pencil or paints. For example, if you choose the one about Brazil, you might want to line up Brazil nuts on a piece of cardboard and glue them in space to spell out "Brazil." Have fun with this! You can print the fun fact underneath, like a caption.


If you like this idea, expand it. You could start a notebook of "illustrated geography," in which you combine knowledge of the places on Earth with your art talent, to make each place come alive.




More than half of the coastline of the entire United States is in Alaska.


The Amazon rainforest produces more than 20% of the world's oxygen supply.  The Amazon River pushes so much water into the Atlantic Ocean that, more than 100 miles at sea off the mouth of the river, one can dip fresh water out of the ocean. The volume of water in the Amazon River is greater than the next eight largest rivers in the world combined, and three times the flow of all rivers in the United States.


Antarctica is the only land on our planet that is not owned by any country.  Ninety percent of the world's ice covers Antarctica.  This ice also represents 70% of all the fresh water in the world. As strange as it sounds, however, Antarctica is essentially a desert.  The average yearly total precipitation is about two inches.  Although covered with ice (all but 0.4% of it), Antarctica is the driest place on the planet, with an absolute humidity lower than the Gobi desert.


Brazil got its name from the nut, not the other way around.


Canada has more lakes than the rest of the world combined.  Canada is an Indian word meaning "Big Village."


Next to Warsaw, Chicago has the largest Polish population in the world.


Woodward Avenue in Detroit, Michigan carries the designation M-1. It was the first paved road anywhere.

Damascus, Syria

Damascus, Syria, was flourishing a couple of thousand years before Rome was founded in 753 BC, making it the oldest continuously inhabited city in existence.

Istanbul, Turkey

Istanbul, Turkey is the only city in the world located on two continents. (Name those two continents!)

Los Angeles

Los Angeles's full name is El Pueblo de Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula -- and its familiar abbreviation is just 4% as long as its formal name: L.A.

New York City

The term "The Big Apple" was coined by touring jazz musicians of the 1930's who used the slang expression "apple" for any town or city. Therefore, to have a musical engagement in New York City is to play the big time -- The Big Apple. There are more Irish in New York City than in Dublin, Ireland; more Italians in New York City than in Rome, Italy; and more Jews in New York City than in Tel Aviv, Israel.


There are no natural lakes in the state of Ohio; every one is manmade.

Pitcairn Island

The smallest island with status as a country is Pitcairn Island in Polynesia, at just 1.75 square miles or 4.53 square kilometers.



The first city to reach a population of 1 million people was Rome, Italy in 133 B.C. There is a city called Rome on every continent.


Siberia contains more than 25% of the world's forests.


The actual smallest sovereign entity in the world is the Sovereign Military Order of Malta (S.M.O.M.). It is located in the city of Rome, Italy, has an area of two tennis courts, and as of 2001 has a population of 80 - which is 20 fewer people than the Vatican.  It is a sovereign entity under international law, just as the Vatican is.

Sahara Desert

In the Sahara Desert, there is a town named Tidikelt, which did not receive a drop of rain for ten years. Technically though, the driest place on Earth is in the valleys of the Antarctic near Ross Island. Scientists think there has been no rainfall there for two million years.


Spain literally means "the land of rabbits."

St. Paul, Minnesota

St. Paul, Minnesota was originally called Pig's Eye after a man named Pierre "Pig's Eye" Parrant, who set up the first business there.


Chances that a road is unpaved in the U.S.A.: 1%. In Canada: 75%.


The deepest hole ever made in the world is in Texas. It is as deep as 20 empire state buildings but only 3 inches wide. Question: does it have something to do with oil?

United States

The Eisenhower interstate system requires that one mile in every five must be straight.  These straight sections are usable as airstrips in times of war or other emergencies.


The water of Angel Falls (the world's highest) in Venezuela drops 3,212 feet.  That's 15 times higher than Niagara Falls.


By Susan Darst Williams After School Treats 02 2008





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