Monday, February 16, 2015

The Study of Geography....

...But the peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures.  Herein lies the educational value of geography. - Charlotte Mason

How do you incorporate geography into your day?  

This was the question in a recent conversation on a Yahoo Group.  I thought I would include my response with some explanation here since this is a common question.   It seems we often set geography aside thinking it's one more thing to add to our day.  Quite the contrary, geography should not be a separate subject, but should fall naturally into your other studies. 

First off, take a look here at what Charlotte Mason wrote about teaching geography.

Next, let's define geography.  According to an online Google search, geography is the study of the earth and its features and of the distribution of life on the earth, including human life and the effects of human activity.  In other words, geography includes not only physical features of the earth (i.e mountains, oceans, plains, etc.), but also the cultural ways of various people groups.  Therefore, the study of geography is two fold. 

Now, to the question at hand.  I teach geography by reading great literature, misc. historical works, and biographies.  Then studying the maps/places/cultures from the setting of the story.  I've found meaning in putting people and places in context.  This promotes long term knowledge.  While studying the Bible, we learned about ancient civilizations/places...Egypt, Greece, Rome, etc. as well as the Nile River, deserts, and the Mediterranean Sea.  As I'm reading, either before or after, I take a few minutes to discuss and show the setting on a map.

Travel is another great way we study geography.  Our family was fortunate to take a vacation out west a few years back, covering nine states.  Seeing mountains, rivers, and an ocean first hand was the perfect way to inspire geographical awe in God's creation.  However, you do not necessarily need to take a family vacation to be awe inspired.  Introduce your children to natural geography be stepping outside your home.  Take a look at the landscape.  What do you see?  Maybe there's a mountain range or a wetland.  Whatever it may be, take advantage of it!

In addition, some resources I've drawn from over the years for geography are...

Sonlight -I used Core A/K Introduction to World Cultures when the kids were young.  It was a wonderful year of reading about misc. people and places. 

Elementary Geography by Charlotte Mason - This was our first official "geography book". 

Galloping the Globe by Pettit & Mullins - We spent two years studying many countries and cultures by reading living books, cooking regional/cultural recipes, notebooking, and interacting with artifacts from different regions around the world. 

A Child's Geography of the World by V M Hillyer - Great living book!!

Maps, Charts, Graphs - I did use this workbook series one year hoping to teach map reading and compass skills.  Though the kids liked it well enough, I don't know that they really gained anything from it.  I found the best way to learn map reading skills and directionality is again, by hands on experience.  We do not have a GPS.  When we travel, we use an atlas or I print maps from MapQuest.  When the kids ask "How much farther?", I hand them the map and they plot our course.  It's a great distraction to that most annoying question and they're learning while they're at it! 

Beautiful Feet Geography - We're currently using the guide and the Holling C. Holling books in addition to our history reading.  I'm planning a future post reviewing this wonderful set. 

At one point, I had a map of the world under a plastic see through table cloth on the dining room table.  This made an excellent conversation piece at dinner.  Sometimes, we would also have the nightly news on in the background and the kids were locating places mentioned on the news while eating.  This sparked many interesting discussions.  

Material World and Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel are great living books!  Our kids love to page through them and then locate the places on a map. 

This blog post from Simply Charlotte Mason explains my preferred method of teaching geography.  It's not a quick method, but I believe it lasts....

Though, we've referenced many maps and drawn maps, we haven't officially incorporated "map drill" in our homeschool up to this point.  I'm researching this option for future years.

What are your favorite geography resources/living books?  Please leave comments below....

1 comment:

  1. Excellent resources, Melissa. We did Paddle to the Sea last year and loved it. :)