Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

When I look back at my school days, geography was not a strong point for me.  I remember colouring maps and memorizing capitals and countries, but for the most part, I didn’t find it that interesting.

When I first began homeschooling, I didn’t worry too much about geography either.  However, as I taught history to my kids and read historical fiction to them, I began to realize that  history and geography belonged together.  So I bought a globe and a world map, and we began to find places on them as we learned.  It was great to see the kids being able to point out places on the globe.

Still, while the kids were able to recognize the continents and some of the countries, I really wanted them to get to know the world we live on.  (I wanted to learn more about it as well!)  Because of this, we decided to focus on world geography this year.  We would explore the world, continent by continent, and see how far we got.   Our goals were for the kids to get a good general knowledge of all of the continents and the countries of the world, and to explore a few countries from each continent more in depth.  (You can read about the lapbooks we created when we studied Asia here.)

Because we have students in grades one to eight in our co-op, we wanted to make sure that the material we used would be easily adaptable for different ages. We found a great resource from Cindy Wiggers called Trail Guide to World Geography. This resource gives an overview of the geography of the world and has atlas and map work at three different levels: primary, intermediate, and secondary.  It also has many extra activities to make your study more in depth.  The student work pages can be ordered as a download or a CD.  Although the book is organized to work through all the continents in a year, you could easily make this into a multi year study if you included more of the additional activities.

In any geography unit, you need a good atlas.  One of my favourite atlases to introduce the kids to the continents is called  The Ultimate Interactive Atlas of the World.  It has different flaps and mini books for the kids to look through, and is very fun and engaging.  A couple more atlases that we like are  the Rand McNally Classroom Atlas and the National Geographic Kids World Atlas, which has internet links as well.

We also  wanted the kids to be able to memorize the countries as they travelled the continents.  Our favourite resource for that is Sheppards Software, which has a variety of free online mapping and geography games.  Our kids have learned all of the countries of Europe and Asia through these games. (I have also!)   We’ve also really enjoyed the Geography Songs CD, which has been a great tool for learning country names.

We’re having a great time travelling around the world!  In addition to the books mentioned above, we’ve checked out lots of information books from the library, and have enjoyed reading  historical fiction together…  Hopefully this year will ignite a love of geography in my kids.

Even if geography isn’t your focus, here are some tips for incorporating geography into your curriculum:

1.  Have maps up in your home to refer to.  It’s a great idea to have a markable map where you can label places as you hear or learn about them, or to use push pins and string to highlight places that you’ve learned about or where you know people.

2.  Have a globe handy too!  It’s very different locating places on a globe and a map.

3.  Bookmark the Sheppard software site, and have your kids play the games for fun.  Have contests to see who can name the most countries in the shortest amount of time.

4.  When you read about a place in a book, look it up on the internet.  That can really help bring the book you are reading to life.

What do you do for geography? Please add any activities or resources that you’ve liked for teaching geography in the comments section.

Happy learning!

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Over the years homeschooling, some of the most fun units we’ve done have been lapbooks.  The kids are actively engaged in their learning, and they enjoy being creative.  We have done a variety of lapbooks, from completely purchased sets with templates, instructions, and resources  available, to ones where the kids have to find their own resources and decide their own way to display what they’ve learned.  If you are just starting with lapbooks, I would recommend purchasing or using some of the free templates that are available, and  I will include links to some of those at the end of this post.  However, if you’d like to move past that, give your kids some guidance as to how to create different types of booklets, and let them take ownership.  You’ll love the results!

This year in our co-op we decided that geography would be our main focus.  Our big goal (we’ll see if we accomplish it yet :) ) is to visit all of the continents of the world, and get a generally knowledge of the countries and geography of each one.  In addition to that, we want the kids to be spend some time learning about a few countries from around the world in a more in depth way.

Our first continent that we focused on was Asia.  We decided it would be fun for the kids to each chose their own country to create a lapbook on, and gave the kids a set of guidelines for certain things that had to be in their lapbook.  Beyond that, they were free to explore and find out things of interest to them.  What was neat was seeing the creativity and the individual interests of the kids come out.  My son who loves animals devoted a section of his lapbook to animals in the country, while my older daughter researched some of the fashions in the country she studied.  The beauty of this approach is that it works so well with multiple ages.  In our co-op, we have kids from grade one to grade eight, and they all studied their own country, at their own level, and created projects at their own level. We used resources from the internet, including some great templates from homeschoolshare, and the kids developed their own booklets as well.

In the end, it was so much fun to watch them sharing their lapbooks with family members.  They were very excited  to show what they had learned because they had done the work themselves and taken ownership of their learning.  I think my kids will never forget this unit.  And really, that’s my goal – not memorization, but real learning based on interests.

My grade one son’s China Lapbook.

Booklets from Homeschool Share.  (His goal was to have as many flaps and little booklets as possible!)

With inside flaps open (he made three extra flaps).

My grade eight daughter’s Japan Lapbook.

Her mini booklets are mini reports :)

Here is her government flap, which she made into an accordian booklet.


Here are some resources that you might like to check out if you are interested in learning more about lapbooking:

Homeschool Share (excellent free lapbook resources!)

Hands of a Child (Lots of lapbooks available to purchase)

Homeschool in the Woods (We loved their Explorers lapbook project)

Squidoo minibook gallery (Great instructions and pictures for how to make all kinds of minibooks.)

currclick (lots of resources, not just for lapbooking)

The Ultimate Lap Book Handbook (This book is packed full of great ideas, and instructions for making the little booklets.)

What resources do you use for lapbooking?  Feel free to add links to sites that you’ve used in the comments section!


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