Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Planning Geography

Geography is one of our least formalized studies. We read books about the countries we visit in history. We also study geography in science. This year, in our most formalized study, we read Kon Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl and Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne and plotted the course of their travels on a map. However, we frequently don't have a subject named geography on our plans. I really like plotting the course of characters on a map and reading a bit about each of the locations, but unless I find another great living geography book, we will go back to studying geography within history and science. No matter how we study geography, these are a few of the resources we use a lot:
  • World of Where is a wonderful computer map study aid, which lets you test by countries, states, provinces, or cities. View Political borders or physical world. You have the solar system, too! It even has a spoken mode for those youngest learners. All this and the price is right at only $11.95!!
  • Borderline is a fun card game that helps make connections between states in the USA or countries in Africa, Europe or the World. You don't have to know geography to play but you will definitely learn some.
  • National Geographic Magazine with all the wonderful images, maps, and thoughtful articles is still a bargain monthly geography curriculum, especially when used with the web site to find articles relating to your area of study or to locate or see a map. There are also great resources at the Xpeditions site
  • A wall map is essential and luckily we subscribe to National Geographic and get one each year.
  • Uncle Josh's Outline Maps CD-ROM is a great resource with 125 printable maps in pdf format. I like these because you get both historical maps and more recent images.
  • NEA State by State Booklist provides a listing of books that will help you read across America. I know this is no help for Canadians and Europeans.
I know I've probably forgotten something. Does anyone else have favorite resources?


Frankie said...

Our kitchen table world placemat has been well worth it. My son is always studying the map while eating.

I am going to get Mapping the World by Heart for next year. I was quite impressed with what I saw at their website.

My original plan was to buy the Idiot's Guide to Geography and make my own maps and worksheets. I think I'll save that for 6th or 7th grade.

I just received Uncle Josh's CD but I haven't looked at the maps yet.

We also have a geography coloring book that my coloring-phobic son will actually color.

Becky said...

I've always wanted one of the old Sonlight world map shower curtains : )

Our geography studies are very informal too, mostly the maps in the SOTW activity book, but that seems to be just dandy for the kids because as long as they have a "peg" on which to hang their geography facts, they remember so well.

As for other resources, we've been letting the kids stay up to watch the Amazing Race, which has been considerably more family friendly this round than the official Family version last time. We watch it with the atlas in front of us.

I also have the Beautiful Feet Geography lit guide, with the Holling C. Holling books, which I'd like to use when my youngest (now 5.5) is a bit older so we can all do it together.

wisteria said...

Is this a personal map placemat or a kitchen table covering one? This sounds great though you cannot put pins in it. I really like the pins.

Mapping the World does look good!

We read the Hollings books but didn't have the guides. How are those? I heard good things after I finished with my son. My daughter might like them.

Frankie said...

We actually have two personal placemats, one of the US and one a world map. Whomever sits at either of those placemats moves their plate aside and studies the map while eating. It has actually enhanced our mealtime conversations because my son asks many great questions and mom and dad will both pay attention. lol

Annette said...

ANother thing we did ws to post the world map on the wall and read books from as many countries as we could, some aloud, some silently. After a book got read, my daughter wrote the title on half slip of paper and taped it to the edge of the map, taping a piece of yarn from the paper to the country where the story took place. At the end of the year, we took a photo of the map to keep with that year's portfolio.

My favorite activity was baking chocolate chip cookie continents and drawing in the major rivers and mountain ranges with colored frosting.


wisteria said...

Oh! This is such a cool idea. I think I will hijack it for next year!!! How exciting. I've been a bit concerned about next year's geography story. Now, I know what to do. I want to get started now.

Anonymous said...

I'd like to share my favorite resource for memorizing the United States and Capitals. Visit...


There you will find a deck of flash cards that use visuals and humor to help you remember. It's a great study aid especially for those who are right-brained. Just thought I'd pass along the link.