I have a couple of geography resources on the shelf, but mostly we cover geography by integrating it into our other lessons. And more often than not, it is not planned.
Case in point: yesterday’s study of the Strait of Magellan.
In Sprite’s proofreading practice (Evan Moor Daily Proofreading, grade 6) she came across strait of magellan which had to be capitalized. She didn’t realize that it was a specific place. In fact, she didn’t even know what a strait was. And she had forgotten all about the explorer Magellan.
At that point I had a choice. I could simply tell her that the Strait of Magellan is a place on the tip of South America and it should be capitalized. Or I could take this natural opportunity for a mini-geography lesson.
Yesterday I chose the latter. (I don’t always, by the way. Sometimes you just have to say no to a tangent.)
We started with the atlas. Amazingly we couldn’t find Strait of Magellan in the index! I didn’t want to just tell Sprite what or where it was, so I suggested the dictionary next. She looked up the word strait and wrote down the definition. Then she looked up Magellan in the dictionary too. Based on the information she found there, she was able to figure out that to find the Strait of Magellan in the atlas we would need to look at the South America page.
To solidify her understanding, I asked Sprite to draw a simple map of the Strait of Magellan below the definitions she had looked up. And then that page went into her geography notebook. Voila! Geography lesson is done.
For more details about this style of sneaky teaching without a curriculum, see my Teaching Reference Skills series at The Homeschool Classroom.
- Part 1: Why and How
- Part 2: Using a Table of Contents and Index
- Part 3: The Atlas
- Part 4: The Dictionary
By the way, if you do want a more direct approach, this workbook is good — World Map Skills, Grade 6. It is serving as an occasional geography supplement for our Beautiful Feet ancient history study.
What a rich tangent! So many skills reinforced there. I’m sure that because Sprite had to search and discover this information instead of just seeing and then narrating, it will be firmly established in her memory.
We do geography this way most often. Other subjects, too, sometimes. It is often the most remembered lessons. This is a great post.
We do geography one time per week. Currently we study Africa (Evan Moor). Since EM is quite dry, I supplement it with DVD’s of countries and continents. Like Wild China (BBC) en Wild Africa (BBC). So we built up knowledge with workbooks, beautiful movies, lapbooks and VIP’s biographies (like Tutu, Mandela, Livingstone & Stanley for Africa, Gandhi-India, Dalai Lama-Tibet), etc. Art is another vehicle: Aboriginal art with Australia, Indian’ design with India, Origami-Japan etc.
I know a family that took ‘Around the World in 80 Days’ as a starting point.
There is so much to cover!
(We haven’t sailed the Strait of Magellan yet)
And she will probably always remember where that is now!
Sometimes the best ideas are also the simplest. Thanks for pointing them out to us!
What a wonderful teachable moment. I love letting kids figure it out too.
Great post! Since we just got back from a trip, I figured the kids would be interested in seeing exactly where we went. We looked at a map of British Columbia, which led to a discussion about flat maps versus globes, which led to a discussion of latitude and longitude, which led to a discussion of time zones, which…well, you get the picture. I hadn’t planned an “official” geography lesson, but we all enjoyed the discussion and learned a lot!
Thanks for the links–I’ll check them out now!
Dana Wilson says
It will even become harder to spend time on the tangents when Sprite gets older, but geography tangents are always worthwhile, IMHO. 🙂 I sure would like to find the time to write a literature-based world geography course! I have lots of ideas. LOL Thanks for your post, Jimmie!
While we do some specific geography studies, it usually just ends up being part of what we do, too. Often, I start out our lessons with a look at the globe or map, just to get our bearings. Thanks for sharing your geography ideas – very helpful!
Very nice. A good deal of our geography is also either integrated with other studies or learned from games.