By Will Stahl
How many times have you heard that Americans are geographically illiterate?
That x% of Americans cannot find Liberia, Iraq, Vietnam, Korea or France on a map?
Is there a name for this condition––displacia perhaps?
No matter the name, the condition has a cure. It comes under the name GEOtoys, and they can teach you what in the world is where.GEOtoys is a local startup that grew from founder Bob Galinsky’s search for geography puzzles and games to use with his own children. Bob learned, as I did, the states and capitals by having puzzle maps, put together over and over. He thought there should be similar puzzles, for nations beyond the US, and when he couldn’t find any, he decided to create them.
That was ten years ago. Bob began with the geopuzzles of Europe and quickly worked outward. Soon he had map puzzles of all the inhabited continents and arranged for production. The Learning Shop in Grand Chute was his first customer. He began going to trade shows and got a sales representative.
For six years he continued developing GEOtoys while working at Kimberly Clark, and finally, four years ago, he made it his full-time occupation. So far it’s been going well; GEOtoys are distributed now all over the United States, as well as Europe, Russia, East Asia, Australia and New Zealand, and they are available in several languages.
The line has grown to about 85 items, puzzles and games, all meant to teach facts about history or geography in ways that are engaging for children from preschool age on up.
Beyond the geopuzzles are card games, inflatable globes as big as three feet in diameter, geography bingo, history facts games, a “Flag Frenzy” game to teach the flags of the nations. Illustrated puzzles maps of 300–500 pieces illustrating various aspects of our nation and the world. Geo-blocks to match up countries and capitals and Geo-marbles, wonderfully detailed globes the size of a marble or even an earring.
GEOtoys is going electronic before long; Bob said they are working with a company to develop a suite of apps for games on the same themes.
If you are worried your children might not know where and when they are in the world, GEOtoys has the way for them to learn and have fun with it.
Look for GEOtoys locally at The Learning Shop, Barnes and Noble, online at www.geotoystore.com or at Amazon. Contact Bob directly at firstname.lastname@example.org, tel: 920-967-2581 or fax: 866-829-1891.