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.

National Geographic Bee Competitions

The state competition of the National Geographic Bee was held on March 27 in each state and the District of Columbia. Fifty-one state champs as well as champions from the United States Territories and Department of Defense schools will travel to National Geographic headquarters in Washington D.C. for the national championship on May 11 to 13. View the list of state Bee champions.

The national championship preliminary rounds will take place on Monday, May 11, in Washington, D.C. The national championship final rounds, featuring the top ten finalists and moderated by award-winning journalist Soledad O’Brien, will be held on Wednesday, May 13, at National Geographic’s Washington, D.C., headquarters. National Geographic Channel will air the final round of the National Geographic Bee Championship at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Friday, May 15, and on Wednesday, May 20, at 7 p.m. ET/PT on Nat Geo WILD. It will also air on public television stations; check local television listings for dates and times.

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.

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.

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    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.

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    Tracking Violent Storms

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

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