How to Ensure Your Child Doesn't End Up Like Miss Teen South Carolina
Rambling about "The Iraq" and "U.S. Americans," Miss Teen South Carolina attempts to explain why so many of her countrymen can't find their country on a map.
Photo: The Associated Press/Patrick Prather
by Wendy Perrin
"Recent polls have shown a fifth of Americans can't locate the U.S. on a world map. Why do you think this is?" asked a judge in the recent Miss Teen USA Pageant. The brainless reply from Miss Teen South Carolina -- which millions of people have now viewed on YouTube -- was so incoherent that yesterday The Today Show gave her a second chance to answer the question. Even after three days to mull it over, however, she still barely answered it. "I believe there should be more emphasis on geography in our education." You don't say!
Any parent who's viewed the video may be wondering (1) how they can keep their kids from growing up so geographically challenged that they can't locate their own country on a map; and (2) how they can keep their kids from growing up to be Miss Teen South Carolina.
To that end, and just in time for Labor Day road or plane trips with the kids, I hereby offer up my five favorite geography-teaching games for youngsters:
(1) Sticker Set Play Scenes: both the Map of the USA and the Map of the World. I picked these up last month at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History in Atlanta, and as a consequence my five-year-old now knows the location of every state in the U.S., as well as each state's capital. (Now if only he could tie his shoes.)
Charlie and Doug with Eartha, the rotating globe, at DeLorme in Yarmouth, Maine, Sept. 2006.
(2) Kids Travel: A Backseat Survival Kit: I found this at the DeLorme Map Store in Maine and now, thanks to the "Geography Bee" and "Life List of License Plates" sections, Charlie spends our car trips "collecting" license plates from as many states as possible and checking them off on the map. Boy, was he thrilled this summer when he spotted a Hawaii plate!