The high school baseball season has come to an end for us. There were at least two straight weeks where our son was playing games six days straight. Add to that two other boys who play ball, our oldest daughter moving back home for the summer after being at college, doctor and dentist appointments, and sundry other children who needed food, clothing, and loving attention, and you'll understand why blogging once again got pushed to the back burner.
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I LOVE MAPS!
I think it first started when we took a trip across country when I was in fifth grade to deposit my older brother at college in Utah. I was allowed to use the atlas to figure out where we were going and I perused it often to help pass the time on some very long drives. So, it's no surprise that once we started homeschooling, our first purchases included wall maps and a globe.
Our home has long been a place where geography has been an intriguing subject. However, we have never used a formal curriculum. Instead, we have made geography a staple in our everyday lives, through conversations, living books, home decor, travel to other places, and--above all--play.
Our dining room (that's no longer a dining room) is the place where the maps are hung and where we have several types of globes. It's also where my awesome homemade map table now stands. This table has proven very useful in creating some geography games for the kids. We have had two inspiring geography products for a while now, and I thought they'd lend themselves to some games:
- Safari World Landmarks TOOB
- Landmark Flashcards (these were the ones I found at my local Target store in the $1 section. Check there when the back to school sales start coming around. National Geographic also used to sell similar cards as well as Rand-McNally, but all I can find is way overpriced used ones online)
The first game is setting the TOOB Landmarks on their proper places on the map.
You can see how crowded Europe and Egypt got, as the bulk of this TOOB was European landmarks. If you click on the photo, you'll see the landmarks include Big Ben, Stonehenge, Arc de Triomphe, Eiffel Tower, Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Colosseum, the Parthenon, the Pyramids at Giza, and the Sphinx.
The other game is a simple matching game where the child matches the TOOB figures to the landmark cards. I'm not sure we have all the cards that match the figures, but most of them do have a card to match.
So, that's it for our map table and the games we play there. However, we have other items that make learning relaxed and fun.
We have a lot of fun items to explore on our geography shelves. They range from Montessori materials to puzzles, books, and games.
The Montessori materials include the following:
- Hand-painted continent globe
- Continent Cards
- Small sandpaper globe
- Montessori Pin Maps also here
- Continent boxes (I only made one for Australia and Europe)
We also have a variety of puzzles, games, and books:
- GeoPuzzle Europe
- GeoPuzzle USA and Canada
- Highlights Top Secret Adventures
- Little Passports USA Edition
- Scrambled States of America game
- Brain Quest States Game
I love the Target $1 bin when the back-to-school sales begin late in summer. I've found all sorts of cool flash cards that can be used for geography games or added to continent boxes (animals of the world, landmarks, etc.). They also sometimes have inexpensive workbooks and wipe-off white board maps to make learning geography low-key and fun. My 10-year old enjoys using the map white board to test her knowledge in state capitals--much easier than erasing a worksheet or a paper map if she makes a mistake!
One very important thing to keep in mind is helping your child make connections. If a country comes up in what you're reading, casually suggest finding that location on the US or World map. I find it's helpful to use the words "I wonder...?" when making the suggestion.
If someone you know is traveling, once again, rely on your handy-dandy map to seek out where they are going to be. My husband travels a lot for work and the kids are constantly looking on the map to see where dad is headed next. My sports enthusiasts use the maps to find the locations for their favorite teams (I'm reminded of Elizabeth Foss' Monday Night Football Geography and Cuisine post).
And, of course, geography goes hand-in-hand with the study of history and humanities. I love the maps from Knowledge Quest, especially the MapTrek series. They are handy downloads that can be printed up at a moment's notice. If you haven't checked the series out, there is a free sample download available.
They also have several curriculum integration guides, so you can see which MapTrek maps can be used alongside your favorite history curriculum (included are Story of the World, A Little History of the World, Ambleside Online and Sonlight. Check back at this blog for a similar integration for those of us who have the older editions of Connecting With History from RC History).
Don't forget about their FREE Globalmania curriculum, a $14.95 value! This is a great way to learn together as a family in a fun and relaxed manner.
Our Favorite Apps
Lest you think we're all about paper and tangible items here in our pursuit of geographic knowledge, we also make use of technology to enhance our learning.
Stack the States
This is a cute app which teaches US geography with trivia about the states. It also uses strategy to stack the state shapes without having them topple over. When you complete a level, you "win" a state that gets placed on your US map. It's very cute.
Stack the Countries
Both of these games are available in free Lite versions for the iOS platform.
National Geographic GeoBee Challenge
We actually have the board game version of this geography trivia game. The Android version makes it easier to just do the straight trivia, rather than having to keep track of cards and game pieces. Plus, you're able to take it on the road, which isn't easy to do with a board game! Also available for iOS.
Of course, this is a must-have app, available for free for Android, iOS, and Windows. The beauty of Google Earth is that you can explore geography in such a unique way. This product allows you to do fly-overs and see world cities in 3-D. Google Earth also has Street View, which gives you a whole other experience, enabling you to see places in the world you might never get to see in person. I made serious use of Google Maps and Google Earth when planning our trip to Ireland in 2014.
So, there you have it--how we do geography in our home. I hope you find some of these resources useful in your home learning journey.
Do you have other resources you have found helpful?
Any tips you'd like to share? Leave a comment or drop me a line at my Facebook page.
Let's keep the conversation going!