The following post is from Kris of Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers:
Geography is one of those subjects that can easily fall by the wayside in a homeschool. That’s really a shame because, not only do kids need to have a solid grasp of the world around them, but geography is so easy to incorporate into other areas of study, such as history, literature, and current events.
Not only that, but there is much to love about geography as a stand-alone subject. Want to know my top 9 reasons to love geography?
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One of the best things to love about geography is that it gives you an excuse to travel, either virtually or physically. In-person field trips are, of course, the optimal choice and can be an exciting, stress-free option with a few field trip planning tips. Family vacations can provide a fantastic
excuse opportunity to travel. It’s all to provide the kids with a well-rounded education, right?
Virtual field trips are a great option when finances or distance make an actual trip impossible. Flat traveling is another excellent option for virtual travel. My kids and I had a blast flat traveling when they were younger.
We were even part of a strictly international group and have “traveled” all over the U.S. and to countries such as Japan, Sweden, New Zealand, England, and Australia. Even though we’ve never physically traveled to those places, we have fond memories of our virtual visits – and some pretty cool souvenirs, too!
One of the best ways to learn about a country and its people’s culture is to research and recreate native dress. Big kids may think they’re too grown-up for costumes, but researching and making their provides and opportunity to throw in some valuable life skills with the geography lessons you’re trying to teach.
In addition to a country’s traditional dress, its cuisine is an excellent – and tasty! – way to discover more about its culture and geography since traditional foods are typically based on available game and crops. And, seriously, what’s not to love about finding an educational reason to eat delicious foods?
I love learning as much as I can through great books and geography is no exception. Around the World in 80 Days is an obvious choice, but often just finding an interesting book set in the place you’re learning about does the trick. Cindy West has a fantastic collection of book titles for an Around the USA study.
Geography wouldn’t be geography without maps. Globes, atlases, wall maps, and outline maps are all great, but we’ve learned the most from making 3-D maps. We have made many salt-dough maps over the years. For a little change of pace, we’ve even tried our hand at paper mache maps.
Our favorite maps by far, however, have been our cookie dough maps! The best school projects are the ones that you can eat when you’re finished.
Another fantastic way to learn about other cultures is through their art. Art is another one of those subjects that can fall through the cracks, so I love combining it with geography when I can.
You can incorporate art by learning about:
- Famous art/artists from the area you’re studying
- A country’s architecture and landmarks
- Art from a country’s history – cultural art from tribal or religious ceremonies, textiles, pottery, paintings (on caves, in churches, etc.)
- Sketching animals, landmarks, buildings, or people
An excellent resource for incorporating art is the book, Geography Through Art.
Holidays and Customs
Our family loves learning about holidays and customs in other countries. My kids and I really enjoyed the series, Welcome to My Country. Particularly meaningful to my oldest daughter and I, most likely because it was something we studied within a few years of my step-dad’s death, was Dia de los Muertos, celebrated in Mexico.
Dia de lost Muertos is not, as many assume, a celebration of death, but, rather a remembrance of the dead. Families will take picnics of their deceased loved ones favorite foods to the cemetery. I can’t tell you how seriously we considered loading up some Chili’s chips and salsa and heading out to the cemetery to share stories of my step-dad.
Learning through Hobbies
Geography affords and opportunity to use your families hobbies as a springboard for learning. Stamp or coin collecting and geocaching are some obvious examples. Other collections that lend themselves easily to a geography study might include:
- Snow globes
And, of course, you don’t have to necessarily visit the places yourself. Souvenirs from relatives and friends can provide an excellent excuse for doing some impromptu research.
Other Topics of Study
You can pull in such a vast array of topics under the heading of geography. In addition to those I’ve already mentioned, you and your students can learn about:
- Birds and animals native to a particular country or region
- Biomes – Which desserts, mountains, rainforests, forests, grasslands, or aquatic areas are found in the area you’re studying?
- Languages spoken
- Current events (My family loves CNN Student News!)
Geography provides opportunities for some amazing, hands-on fun! It should never have to be relegated to the “if we have time” file.
In what ways do you incorporate geography in your homeschool?
Some Other Posts That Might Interest You:
- Free Resources for Teaching US Geography to Elementary Students
- 5 Fun and Easy Ways to Include Geography in Your Homeschool
- Geography with a Twist
- Fifty State Fridays
|Kris, who blogs at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers, is a homeschooling mom to three amazing kids and wife to her unbelievably supportive husband. She enjoys photography, running, and drinking sweet tea. You can connect with Kris on her blog, Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Pinterest.|
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