Photo: The War of 1812 giant floor encourages students to interact with history. (Photo: Colin Rowe)

Ready your compasses and astrolabes, because Geography Awareness Week is once again upon us! From November 15 to 21, people all over the world will be celebrating geography and the important role it plays in our lives.

Among those taking part will be students. In the interest of helping them learn about geography (which actor Michael Palin called “the key to our future”), here are five ways to bring the world into the classroom this week, and for the rest of the year.

1. Explore a giant floor map
This year's theme is “Explore! The power of maps,” and what’s more powerful than a series of themed, 11-metre by 8-metre floor maps? These innovative and hugely popular resources can be reserved for free by Canadian teachers from kindergarten to Grade 12.

2. Print the new tiled maps
Want a larger-than-usual map but don’t want to wait for the giant floor ones? Canadian Geographic Education’s tiled maps are the perfect solution. These free, downloadable pdfs are designed to encourage students to explore Canada piece by piece. Each map can be downloaded in colour or black and white on several sheets of paper. Students can piece together each map to gain a larger perspective of their environment.

3. Study for the Canadian Geographic Challenge
It’s never too early to start studying for Canada’s favourite national geography competition. The Canadian Geographic Challenge is organized for students from Grades 4 to 10, and has two levels of competition. Now in its 21st year, the competition is continuously evolving, melding traditional learning styles with geographic literacy skills and new technology. Register now!

4. Reduce energy consumption with the Energy Diet Challenge
Learn how geography and energy impact each other by signing up for the annual Classroom Energy Diet Challenge. Although the challenge doesn’t start until February 1st, lots of classes start preparing well before registration closes. A new prize structure means classrooms can compete to win more than one hundred prizes totaling $40,000.

5. Film a video to win Canada’s Coolest School Trip
Canada’s national parks are a great way to get out and learn the geography of this country. Grade 8/Secondary II students can now compete to win an all-expenses-paid class trip to an exciting Parks Canada site by creating a one-minute video about a Parks Canada place that they think is extraordinary, and why it’s important to Canadians.

Join the conversation on Twitter through #GeoWeek.