The purchase I most recommend is the LeapFrog® Explorer Smart Globe. Learning geography has never been so fun...and addictive! This globe has a fascinating array of capabilities. The kids were instantly attracted to the music option. By poking a place with the stylus pen a melody plays that best represents that country. My daughter would exclaim, "Turkey is my favorite," while prompting an upbeat tune over and over again. My son was drawn repeatedly to the folksy music of Cambodia.
This globe also, amazingly enough, gives the distance between two points. When pals have moved to Hawaii or Michigan the kids have remembered to use this option to see how far flung their friends are.
And then there is the game. We are asked to find "Argentina" or "New Zealand" or "Finland." Under timed pressure we successfully poke as many countries as we possibly can. My daughter got amazingly good at this at the tender age of seven. Then one day while driving a news report came on the radio about unrest between India and Pakistan. That little girl of mine piped up and said, "Pakistan and India are right next to each other!" There are two points I would like to make here. First, I know she had a mental image of the placement of those two countries and how that related to where she was. And, had she not been familiar with those countries she would NEVER have keyed into that news story.
Speaking of driving, I keep a GeoSafari Talking Globe Traveler in my car. I have noticed a strange phenomenon in regard to this globe. My kids ignore it. But when other kids are along for the ride they can't resist it. Pretty soon everyone is divided up into teams, each attempting to come up with the correct answers to the globe's questions. And viola! The car becomes a high school quiz bowl on wheels. I got this little unit at a teacher's supply store. Unfortunately the sound can be somewhat garbled. Misunderstandings about what is being asked have on occasion caused a round of belly laughs!
I also couldn't resist this gargantuan, inflatable ball that I found on ebay. The sensation of having this big old world come flying down on you from a blue sky is very surreal. And who can resist striking an Atlas pose? I gave it to the children for Christmas in 2007 and then it appeared on our 2008 Christmas card. "Peace on Earth."
Activity: Use this two-dimensional world map while you're globe shopping.