How do you teach geography? How can you even approach the concept of teaching this subject?
It doesn’t have to be hard… that panic button doesn’t have to be flashing red and ringing in the distance. Let’s take a quick look at some ideas and tools that may help you in this subject.
As a homeschooling mom I have had to find ways to make learning come alive in my home. Most often, though, it is when I choose to model learning for my children that I have seen them take off with ideas and concepts and begin to learn themselves.
True learning is not just on one level. We can’t always give them a book and say ” read this” and expect that to be enough. Some of our kids can do that, and truthfully…that is because that is how they are wired.
What works for you? How do you learn? What are ways you have found useful in your own learning to help you ‘get it”.
When I started homeschooling I read an article by Laurie Bluedorn called ” Ten Things to Do with your Child before the Age of Ten” . I went to their workshops which were offered through our local Homeschool Conference and bought their book, Teaching the Trivium.
It was in a newsletter or an email, I can’t remember now, that Laurie wrote which I learned what I think was one of the most pivotal lessons for me.
Decide what I want to learn and then take the kids on the journey with me.
Could it really be that easy? Yes, it really can! I had always LOVED to learn. I remember my 9th grade biology teacher telling me the best thing he could teach me was to become a life-long student. He said, he wasn’t really a teacher, but that he was someone who loved to learn and shared that with the rest of us. It stuck with me.
I knew then I could do this thing called “Home Education”, well, that is with a little help from the Lord. It is truly with Him that any of this was possible or would be fruitful.
So, let’s look at this concept of teaching Geography.
Ask yourself some questions first:
What do I want to learn about?
Where can I start?
Make a plan. Start with an idea of where you want to go. Make this in to a journey of discovery. For the little ones, make it a game and have them search for clues. For the older ones, make it a scavenger hunt and give them directions on what to look for. Bring in all aspects of learning. Have them using all their gates… the eye gate, ear gate, mouth gate, hand gate and heart gate. When they are seeing, hearing, saying and feeling they are opening up the different modes of learning where they can “get it”.
How does this work?
Once you know where you want to go. Head to the library, or look on-line for interactive websites, book suggestions, articles, etc.
Get the books and start reading. Once we get the books we tend to go from there. Sometimes we find something interesting and head down that pathway, other times we find new ideas to try.
- Make a meal from that region.
- Make a costume.
- Study their flag and recreate one of your own.
- Draw a map of the area and include important information about it: Capital Cities, Landmarks, Topographical info, Political info., Historical info.
- Learn the language, practically… beginning to learn a new language would be a bit much for some but learn a few of the words to make it resonate within their heart.
- Read about the customs and the people.
- Take a virtual field trip to the area.
There are so many options available to us on-line now that this is quite easy to find. Here are a few I found:
Make a passport and visit a different country each week. In the passport include the following:
- Location: Longitude and Latitude, timezone, etc
- Map and picture that you like
- Dates you visited
- Specific info: Population, language, religion, government, number of countries, etc
- Historical Information: explorers, writers, wars, important contributions to the world, etc.
- What you loved about this country. ( make it positive)
- Maybe you want to make it a binder and keep it going as you continue to travel. Add to it when you take a real field trip to somewhere new.
- Join a post card group and send post cards all over the world to other children. Yahoo has an actual group you can look for that meets this purpose. Go here:http://groups.yahoo.com/group/postcardkids/
The point is to just start!
Here are some awesome Geography Books that I have loved in our learning from Knowledge Quest Maps:
We have also loved:
Below you is an outline of a geography lesson I have used with my own children. I will be adding to this studies of different countries with some flash cards, maps, etc., as time allows and posting the information in my “Downloads Section”.
Study Your World Geography Outline:
Discover the beauty of our Earth through a multi sensory based unit study on the world’s geography.
Purpose: To learn the earth’s geography by conducting a thorough study of the layout and details of each land mass, body of water, natural boundaries and special features.
Implementation: 1-2 week lessons which focus on a specific geographic location using repetition, research and memory work to lay a firm foundation.
Drawing the object daily, taking time to add detail and depth to the finished project.
Using the atlas, the web and book lists to further knowledge of the subject.
Gathering each project together in one place to compile an end result which shows the progression of learning.
Notebooks, living books, atlas, note cards, memory work, writing prompts, research skills, map work, hands on activities, vocabulary, spiral sketch notebook for maps, or binder to collect all the student’s work.
General layout of a lesson:
Get to Know Your World
Learn the continents and the bodies of water that make up the Earth’s surface.
- Draw the map daily. When you are comfortable draw the outline in your sketchbook or on a piece of blank paper.
- Study the features of that continent or country. Draw them in using an atlas or a map to draw both to scale and color.
- Before you start make a key for the map which will help you place and document the various cities, lakes, rivers and other features or important landmarks that you want to include on your map.
- Extra: Have your older students go deeper by creating a separate map for each country, outlining the border and items specific to that region or culture.
Memorize the countries and capitals as you draw your map.
- Take time each day to quiz yourself on the names of the countries and capitals within the continent you are studying.
- Use the note cards located in the back of this resource to help you acquire this skill. A few minutes a day will make the job very easy.
- Optional: Make your own note cards and record any information on the back of the card that you would want to remember. Use this opportunity to work on penmanship and organizational skills.
Research the culture, history and heritage of 1 or more countries to enrich your study.
- Create a report using a Key Word Outline and include this in your notebook.
- Utilize the links included in the back of this book or links you have found in your own research
- Find living books, (a list is provided in back and in each section), at your library to enhance your study of this continent/country. Have the student share what they have read either in the form of a critique (for older students) or a book report.
Hands on Projects
- Use tactile projects to establish a firm and solid understanding materials.
- Cookie Maps
- Create Flags of each country
- Make a menu that celebrates the cultural diversity of the different regions
- Make up a game of jeopardy to quiz the students on what they have already learned
- Create your own glossary each week with new terms to research and define.
Integrate your subject across the board. Bring each subject into the learning to tie it all together.
- Utilize the history and facts to tie in your geography projects with what you are learning in history, language arts and even math.
- Ask questions and make the kids think. Let your passion to learn be a fire to ignite their own desire to dig deeper.
- Utilize the interactive maps to familiarize the student with the borders and names of the country and its capitals.
I’ve included a pdf link below that highlights the outline above for you.