"Geography is, to my mind, a subject of high educational value; the peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures."
I used to think I didn't like geography and that it was too dry and uninteresting to teach (plus, I wasn't really good at it myself!). When I attended a lecture on geography at a homeschool convention many years ago, that thought had completely vanished! It became interesting and was no longer intimidating! Here are some ideas we have gleaned along the way that have made geography quite fun and easy to incorporate into our homeschool lessons!
- Read geography inspired picture books. Cuddle on the couch and share lessons this way as traveling with books is very enjoyable! We share some simple questions and ideas to incorporate that concept here.
- Teach geography with poems and play games. By making a fun time together, children don't even realize they are learning. In this way, map and globe skills are honed in while sprinkled with some language arts!
- Listen to music. Some of our favorites are the cute and culture rich, Wee Sing Around the World collection or the memorizing information series of Geography Songs by Larry and Kathy Troxel.
- Listen to geography inspired audio books. We like to do this when folding clothes or prepping meals such as Heidi (for Germany and Switzerland), Hans Brinker and/or The Hiding Place (for Holland), and so forth.
- Read biographies about famous explorers (such as Christopher Columbus, Marco Polo, Captain Cook, Leif Erickson, Cortez, etc.) and bring geography to life. This way you are learning geography and history at the same time. As you read these biographies, bring out the globe and have the children trace out routes with their fingers or draw them out on maps. Identify the places you are studying together on a globe. We also like to do mini-reports on each explorer along the way.
- Cookbooks. To make geography come alive, cook a meal according to the country you are studying (or where the main character in the read aloud book you are reading lives). We even dress up as close as we can in that particular culture (for example, when we studied Greece, we had a meal and wore homemade togas out of sheets. This makes for a fun study and encourages the children to look up more information to learn about how to look authentic). We also name drop "famous people" (as if we know them) of that region during the meal conversation to make it come alive further.
- Travel. Next time your family takes a road trip or vacation, visit this post for some ideas on how to enhance your time off and turn it into an educational and fun geography field trip!
- Watch movies. Choose videos that take place in other counties (we like to do this on the weekends)! Print out a blank outline map of the world and tape it to your wall or place in a notebook. Each time you visit a country via a movie, have your students color in and label the country along with the capitol. Make it a challenge to visit every country via your movie night. For instance, Treasures of the Snow (for Switzerland), Inn of the Sixth Happiness for China and March of the Penguins for Antarctica.
- Incorporate geography painlessly into your current studies. If you are studying about Laura Ingalls Wilder (for instance), and the book you are reading says she lived in certain states, you can simply have the children find those states on a U.S. Map. Or, print out a blank outline map for each study and have children label the pertaining places you read about while studying that particular subject (such as rivers, oceans, states, etc.) on the map every time you come across geographical information. If you are studying about animals, have students prepare a separate note-booking page sharing the habitats of that particular animal and what parts of the world they are found in and so forth. I think you get the idea and this is all basic geography!
- Ready-Made Curriculum (Let's be honest, sometimes this is necessary!). I am including this as an effortless way to teach for the teacher. I like these kinds of Charlotte Mason style workbooks when I am not able to be involved due to life circumstances. The "Bringing the World to Life" series (affiliate link) does it all for you and in a simple format that students can easily do on their own. It includes map-making, missionary biographies, research, vocabulary, science, culture (social studies), Bible, art, etc.
I hope this post has encouraged you to see geography in a new light! It can easily be incorporated into your current studies without putting it into a special "subject slot" or it can be given a special "subject slot" and be utilized in a fun way to break up the monotony of your normal studies! Happy homeschooling!
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