When I was teaching World Geography, I was always looking for engaging ways for kids to see similarities and differences between countries. We used the CIA Factbook and other similar online tools.

But I really like a new online tool called If It Were My Home. Probably more useful for younger kids K-8, If It Were My Home gives your students a chance to look at other countries from a more personal perspective. The site was initially created in 2010 as a way to show the magnitude of the BP Oil Spill. But the creators of the site

realized that we had stumbled onto a very powerful concept. Representing large facts in relation to a person’s own home is much more revealing than a simpler presentation of facts.

Your kids select a country and the site provides a quick set of comparisons and a map showing relative size to their current location.

The site also provides a short, informative paragraph providing a brief history and background of the country. And while it looks like this information actually comes directly from the CIA Factbook, the site is a bit easier to digest for younger kids than the data-heavy CIA site.

I appreciate that If It Were My Home provides an Amazon generated list of books related to the country that you’re comparing. This seems especially useful to teachers looking for supplementary materials. The site also adds the option for kids to post comments and observations, providing a mini-Facebook like feel. Most kids today understand the power of social media and this is a moderated way for your students to express their voice.

K-5 teachers can probably use the site just by itself.  Secondary teachers might use this as a nice way to start conversation and hook kids into deeper research. Either way, If It Were My Home is a nice addition to your list of favorites.

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