By day, Cheryl is a homeschooling mom with 7 children: 3 human, 2 feline and 2 canine. By night, she is a work-at-home mom supporting small businesses with her ghostwriting and social media skills. In her spare time she enjoys crafts, music, books, and lots of laughter. Follow her adventures (and get awesome home business tips) at www.hs-wahm.com as well as a free copy of “5 Ways to Generate Quick Cash from Home.”
Back in the Stone Age, around the time of the Flintstones, geography meant just one thing. BOOOORING lessons based on “Can you tell me where Ecuador is located on the map?” “What continent is Botswana located on?” and other inane questions that had nothing to do with my life, so who cares? But as a homeschooling mama I am discovering the joy of geography and all it encompasses.
• I mean, imagine your geography lesson starting with a cookbook, discussing the staple foods for that region, moving into fashion where you examine the traditional clothing of that region, ways that people make a living, how the type of land a group of people live on shape their economy and then topping it all off with a traditional meal from that region. Now that’s the kind of geography that I can get into — how about you?
I have learned through my desire to educate my own children that geography is as much about culture as it is about where Mount Everest can be located on the map. Buildings are just buildings and mountains are just mountains, but it’s the people who make it all come alive. When teaching your children about geography try to make it as real of an experience as possible.
• For example, if you’re studying a region that has farming as its focus, discuss what makes farming the best choice for living in this area, what type of land is best for farming, and questions along those lines. Once you’ve completed the introductory information, hop in the car and go visit a working farm! Let the children see what it takes to survive in that area. Or even better, take the kids to the farm first and then let them tell you what they’ve learned. Then go over the “textbook” information!
Of course the world is too big (and most of our bank accounts are too small) to visit each and every area of interest, but if you recreate the culture as much as possible at home you and your children will get a lot more out of the lesson.
• Here’s a good example by a homeschool mom in my area who sponsors an annual two-day archaeological dig.
Here’s how it works:
The instructor comes to her home, digs up her backyard and places genuine pieces from the culture that they will be studying. The first half of the adventure involves the digging, cleaning and identifying the pieces that they’ve located. They learn real archaeological techniques during this portion of the class.
The second part of the lesson requires the children to “transform” into the people that they’ve been learning about. The children have to dress up, eat a traditional lunch, sing popular songs, and play games from that region of the world. For those two days you are a native of the country you are studying.
• The 39 Clues series by Scholastic Books is also another entertaining way to get the kids involved with geography. Dan and Amy Cahill must travel the world in order to find the 39 clues that will reveal the secret of the powerful Cahill family. These books do a splendid job of intertwining history, geography, puzzles, and suspense together. If you pull out your map (or globe) and follow them on their travels you’ll hit every continent and have lots to discuss and discover together.
• One last way that I’ve found to make geography come alive is by playing crazy games. For example, I found giant maps of the United States and the world created by Borderline Games that has been a lot of fun for my family. The games are setup to be a form of hopscotch, but that got old for us quickly and we made our own.
When we study history we pull out the maps, grab Fisher Price’s Little People, toy horses, and other small toys, and reenact history’s battles and discoveries. Everyone has fun, they learn more landmarks of the world, and they increase their retention rate.
But be warned – if you decide to use this tip, make it your last subject of the day. In my family the historical battles soon morph into space aliens, Scooby-Doo mysteries, and other silliness, and it’s much too difficult to get everyone back to planet Earth and math. It is, however, a wonderful way to end the school day.