The following is a post from contributing writer Kris Bales of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers.
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I ran into a future homeschool mom at a curriculum fair this summer. She was a homeschool grad who is planning to homeschool her own children someday. She was looking for something to help her get a better grasp on geography, an area in which she felt she had a learning gap.
I really admired the fact that she didn’t look at this fact as a shortcoming of her own homeschool education – just an opportunity for life-long learning. It also made me determined to be more intentional about teaching my kids geography, though.
We already do incorporate a lot of geography since we’re using curriculum published by a company that loves geography. Still, there were lots of homeschool years before we discovered the curriculum we’re using now. So, we’ve added some geography to our school day while continuing to incorporate geography like we were before.
Want to know what we’re doing?
Daily geography drills
In order to be more intentional about teaching (and learning) geography, I’ve added daily geography drills to our day. I got the concept from Trail Guide to World Geography and Trail Guide to U.S. Geography. We do things a bit differently than the books suggest, but the general idea is the same.
I set our timer for 5 minutes. That assures two things: 1) nobody grumbles because, hey, we’re only talking 5 minutes and 2) we don’t let the time get away from us since we already have a crazy busy day.
I put the globe in the middle of the table and I call on a kid (because otherwise Josh would sit back and let Megan do it all) and I call out something for them to find:
- The equator, lines of latitude and longitude, the poles, Earth’s axis
- The northern or southern hemisphere
I’ve kept it pretty simple, so far, by using just the globe. Once that gets easy, I’m thinking we’ll work on finding things in an atlas.
Use maps across the curriculum
Maps aren’t just for geography-specific studies. They’re great for history and literature and even science and art. It’s easy to see their use in history, but they’re often great in literature, too. If you’re reading a book set in real places, it’s fun to look them up and get a sense of where all the action is taking place.
I guess the science part I’m thinking of is technically history, but it’s fun to find the home countries of famous scientists on a map. You can to the same with famous artists, but you can also learn more about the culture of a place through its art.
We always enjoy building models to help us understand concepts, including geography. We’ve made:
Keep a globe handy
It sounds simple, but we have started making sure we keep a globe handy. If it’s in reach, we’re much more likely to grab it to quickly find something or some place that we’re reading about.
Learn quirky facts
Back when we were doing our 50 State Fridays, we loved to learn quirky facts about the states we studied. Do you know which state boasts the bolo tie as its official state neck wear? Which state is home to the city that is artichoke capital of the world? Which state was home to Mike the Headless Chicken?
See? These are important facts to know – plus, fun facts tend to stick in your head better than the usual boring ones. 50 States Facts and Trivia is my favorite spot for learning quirky facts.
Make a meal
Finally, we love to make meals when we study states, regions, or countries. It wraps up your home ec, geography, history, and hands-on learning in one easy-to-store package. Yes, we love hands-on projects that we can eat! Not only that, but making meals helps you learn about the cultural history of the places you’re studying.
What are some of the ways your family enjoys incorporating geography with your other school subjects?
Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, is a homeschooling mom to three amazing kids and wife to her unbelievably supportive husband. She enjoys photography, running, and drinking sweet tea. She is also the social media manager for geography-loving publishers, Geography Matters. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.