Home homeschooling Friday’s Fun Homeschooling Tip: Geography

Friday’s Fun Homeschooling Tip: Geography

by Kelly Crawford

Mostly I think learning should be a reward in itself.  BUT…sometimes, there are things we wish to motivate our children to learn that may require a bit of inspiration….things like rote memorization.

I had no idea just how inspired mine would be when I said, “OK I have an idea…you older ones teach the younger ones the names of all the states and when everyone down to ____ has them memorized, we’ll all go out for ice cream!”

Secretly, it’s the older ones (8 & 11) that I really wanted to motivate to brush up on these, and any time an older one is “teaching” they learn more–it’s a fact.  So, they have all been busily studying the US map–states and capitals this week without any prompting. The younger ones are picking it up quickly!

I’m thinking of ways to expand this to other areas 😉

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Natasha January 28, 2011 - 9:13 am

ha, my friend and I had to memorize all the human bones and nodules etc, so we bought one of those big tins of carmel, cheese and butter popcorn and for each question we got right the first time we got to eat one. I dunno why it worked, but i think it helped to break up the monotony.

more kids need to know geography, esp world geography.

Word Warrior January 28, 2011 - 9:31 am

“esp world geography.”

Yep…you’re right. I’m cooking up a plan for that one too. I want it to stick. When I “learned” geography in school, I didn’t learn it. I still struggle with it. If I’m going to occupy their time with something, I want it to last.

Kim M January 28, 2011 - 11:45 am

An idea for world geography:
I may have mentioned this before but I was a missions major in Bible college. One of the books we used was *Operation World*. It has every country in it with facts about that country (they update it regularly). There is also a children’s book called *Window on the World* about specific people groups. One day it popped into my head that we could use those books and pray for those countries after we read about them. I bought a huge wall map and we put a sticker on it every time we pray for that country. My children look forward to the day that we do that,and I have often heard them telling their grandparents and whomever else will listen about the countries and people we read about.

Natasha January 28, 2011 - 12:02 pm

I like this! thanks for sharing

Kim M January 29, 2011 - 2:13 am

Your welcome! 🙂 Interestingly, and those two books I mentioned are geared for praying and tell you what the specific spiritual needs are.

I Live in an Antbed January 28, 2011 - 10:41 am


Kim from Canada January 28, 2011 - 11:10 am

Funny enough, I have been telling my husband how much my 11yo daughter will learn when she starts helping with her 7mos old brother’s education. Quite frankly, there have been things I have learned through her grade 4,5 and 6 that I never remembered from my school times. Teaching is about learning, too!

Word Warrior January 28, 2011 - 11:17 am

Isn’t it true? I’m astounded at how much I didn’t actually learn–memorized maybe? from school. Makes me think carefully about what’s really important, where to put our time, money and energy, etc. Albert Einstein said not to waste time learning things that can be easily looked up (like the periodic table, etc.) so I’m thinking through that too.

Natasha January 28, 2011 - 12:06 pm

I think its hard to get the “big picture” especially with science. Kids may memorize the periodic table, but they have no idea what it’s really about, and how we use it. I remember in anatomy and physiology in highschool it was so much memorization that I left without really knowing what the body did and how incredible it is. I like that Einstein quote, very true.

Even history, we would learn certain time periods, but I had no clue where it fit in with the rest of the world, it was too compartmentalized.

Regina January 28, 2011 - 11:22 am

Speaking of Einstein…he had quite a different view of education than the modern person does:

“Education consists mainly in what we have unlearned”

“We are faced with the paradoxical fact that education has become one of the chief obstacles to intelligence and freedom of thought.”

“It is a miracle that curiosity survives formal education.”

“It must be remembered that the purpose of education is not to fill the minds of students with facts…it is to teach them to think.”

Kim M January 28, 2011 - 11:48 am

Kelly, I love motivating my kids like that too. When we are watching our pennies, I allow them special privileges. For example, my son was allowed to stay up as long as he wanted on Friday night after meeting his goal of reading 500 pages. They love those extra little things because they aren’t normally allowed to stay up extremely late.

Natasha January 28, 2011 - 12:09 pm

Maybe with each state do something that the state is known for, like a food from a particular state, or a famous historical person or national wonders like yellowstone.

Tricia January 28, 2011 - 3:00 pm

I love the praying for missions with the map idea.
There’s also a game called Seterra that is very simple yet great fun for geography. You can download it right to your computer (it’s not large, I don’t think), so the child is not playing it online, which is a real plus. You have to locate countries on the map, and you do it one continent at a time.
I agree with Albert Einstein, but I think kids who don’t know where the countries of the world are are at a great disadvantage when they are mentioned. When I was helping my grandson with his history in middle school, he was pretty clueless about the location of even major countries.
I really recommend Seterra. It’s free, simple, fun, and effective.

Tiana Krenz January 29, 2011 - 8:31 am

Have you ever heard of “Geography Songs”? My kids have so much fun with it, and even my 2 year old knows most of the islands in the West Indies! I highly recommend it! 🙂

Bambi January 29, 2011 - 9:32 am

We love to use 10 Days in Europe, Asia, USA, etc. to keep up with geography! Fun, fun game and even my 6 year old is learning. We got our games at Timberdoodle 🙂

Taryn January 29, 2011 - 10:30 am

stevenandersonfamily recommends Galloping the Globe and Cantering the Country(both available at Timberdoodle). I want to try them with our grandchildren.

the cottage child January 29, 2011 - 12:46 pm

I’m not a Charlotte Mason purist, but I love the idea of expanding on more than a map based knowledge of geography – the cultural along with the physical has helped with our memorization and our internalization (I say “our” because I learned to memorize, I didn’t learn geography, so I’m learning right along with the kids) of where things are and why the people of a land do things the way they do based on the physical attributes of that location. Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C Holling, is a terrific place to start with this approach, and the entire book is available online to print (or here: http://www.amazon.com/Paddle-Sea-Sandpiper-Books/dp/0395292034). It’s an early reading level, but it is so engaging, and really is a great resource for info and for approach.

I do think the hard knowledge is important – I mean, I want my Dr. to know the hip bone is connected to the thigh bone – but I think we would have more creative problem solvers in the world if the approach to gaining knowledge involved less time wasting and was, you know, MORE CREATIVE! Yay, Einstein!

Donna Hebert January 30, 2011 - 7:17 am

Our family, being of comeptitive nature..lol..we love playing this free online game and seeing who gets the fastest points! http://www.yourchildlearns.com/mappuzzle/us-puzzle.html

Margaret February 1, 2011 - 10:44 am

Great idea! Teaching is the best way to learn. 😀

Gayle @ TrainingOlives February 1, 2011 - 1:05 pm

We LOVE Geography here in the Westover home. At most Parent-Teacher stores, you can find maps (U.S. or World) where you can fill in the names of the states or countries. I really love those, and I love all of the books put out by Dorling-Kindersley on Geography. They break things down by region or continent, and then by state or country, giving colorful pictures and facts galore for that particular place.

This is the World one (however, there is a newer version available): http://www.amazon.com/DK-Geography-World-Jayne-Parsons/dp/0789410044/ref=sr_1_8?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296583227&sr=1-8

And this is the State one: http://www.amazon.com/State—State-Atlas-DK-Publishing/dp/0756618282/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1296583312&sr=1-1

I also use your older ones teaching the youngers in Math. Many, many times, I’ll have the big boys go over the lessons for their siblings while I’m closeby preparing lunch or something and listening. It reinforces their math AND it teaches them responsibility and patience, ect., without realizing it. 😉


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