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.

Bring the exciting competition of the National Geographic Bee to your school! Take advantage of the early-bird registration; the $100 fee includes contest materials and prizes. Schools with financial need can apply for discounts here.


Key National Geographic Bee Dates

August 18, 2015 - December 18, 2015
Early bird registration ($100)
Check or credit card payment accepted

December 19, 2015 - January 18, 2016
Registration ($120)
Credit card payment accepted

February 5, 2016
Deadline for School Bee Champs to take online qualifying test by 11:59 pm EST.

March 4, 2016
State Bees qualifiers are announced.

April 1, 2016
State Bees are held in every state and Washington, D.C.

May 22-25, 2016
National Championship held in Washington, D.C.

Test Your Geography IQ

Can you answer these video questions from the 2015 National Geographic Bee Championship? Questions from Pharrell Williams, Wynton Marsalis, and National Geographic Explorer Fredrik Hiebert will test your knowledge of the world.

How to Help

  • Photo: Geo Bee Winners

    Fund a School

    Donations help fund schools to participate in the 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.

See More From the Study Corner »