Photo: Map of the world showing areas of freshwater

Map image from National Geographic Atlas of the World, Ninth Edition

Download a PDF of this activity.

Building a strong “geo-vocabulary” is an important part of learning geography.  But simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution to this learning challenge is to turn the task into a game in which students take charge of their own learning. For example, students can participate in an atlas-based scavenger hunt to learn new information and also become more familiar with the atlas as an important tool of geography.

Conducting a Geo-Scavenger Hunt

a) Divide students into teams of two or three. Then provide each team with several atlases and copies of the handout.

b) Explain to students that their task is to use the atlases and the clues provided in the handout to identify 26 place locations that begin with the letters of the alphabet – A to Z.

Geo-Scavenger Hunt Key

A: Atacama
B: Baikal
C: Cuba
D: Darfur
E:  Elba
F:  Faroe Islands
G: Guadalcanal
H: Hatteras
I:  Iguaçu
J:  James River
K: Karakum
L:  Limpopo
M: Marquesas Islands
N:  Nile River
O:  Ob River
P:  Paraná River
Q:  Queen Maud Land
R:  Rhine River
S:  Sumatra
T:  Thames River
U:  Ucayali River
V:  Viti Levu
W: Weddell Sea
X:  Xizang
Y:  Yalu River
Z:  Zanzibar

Extending the Activity

a) Distribute blank world physical maps.

b) Have students use the atlases to locate and label each of the place locations identified in the Geo-Scavenger Hunt on blank world maps.

Each year thousands of schools in the United States participate in the National Geographic Bee using materials prepared by the National Geographic Society. The contest is designed to inspire students to be curious about the world. Schools with students in grades four through eight are eligible for this entertaining and challenging competition.

Registration for the 2015 Geo Bee has ended. Schools can register for next year's Geo Bee in August 2015.

School Geo Bees have all been held. Please mark your calendar for the upcoming State Geo Bee on March 27, 2015, in all 50 states and the District of Columbia. To find out the location of the State Geo Bee for your state, email us at ngbee@ngs.org.

The national competition of the Geo Bee will be held May 11-13, 2015, at the National Geographic Society’s headquarters in Washington, D.C. It will be televised on May 15, 2015, at 8 p.m. on the National Geographic Channel and NG Wild.

Gain a Global Perspective

The 2014 National Geographic Bee finalists gush about geography.



How to Help

  • Photo: Geo Bee Winners

    Fund a School

    Donations help fund schools to participate in the National Geographic Bee.

Winners' Video

  • geobee-2014-kids-990.jpg

    2014 State Winners

    Fifty-four of the nation's brightest young geography whiz kids gathered in Washington, D.C., last spring to take part in the 26th annual National Geographic Bee.

Student Activities

Teachers can use these activities in the classroom to prepare students for the bee!

  • Photo: Map of the world showing areas of freshwater

    Geo-Scavenger Hunt

    Simply memorizing terms and place locations can be tedious and even boring. One solution is to make the task fun with an atlas-based scavenger game.

  • Photo: Map of languages

    Exploring Diffusion

    The movement of people, goods, or ideas from one place to another is a process known as diffusion, which plays an important role in shaping the characteristics of where we live.

  • Photo: Infared satellite image of hurricane Rita

    Tracking Violent Storms

    Springtime brings the possibility of extreme weather, including violent thunderstorms and tornadoes.

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