When we think back on our experience with geography in school, we often remember tests about state capitals or labeling the Great Lakes, neither of which foster a great love within us for geography. If anything, those memories are often the reason we shy away from diving into geography in our homeschool.
However, geography is so much more than remembering the capital of Kansas. As you dive deeper into the ideas of geography, you soon realize the vastness of the subject. From physical and environmental geography to human geography and cartography, there is something to pique everyone's interest.
So instead of relegating geography to the map skills workbook, let’s find ways to foster a love of geography in our homeschools that will lead our children to a greater understanding of the world and its people.
Fostering a love of geography from home
Of course, the first-hand experience of travel is a fantastic way to experience a new place, but that rarely happens as frequently as we would like.
But don’t worry, it doesn’t require an international vacation to fill your child with the wonder of this vast world. We can do it right from home and keep it well within our homeschool budget. Are you ready to go?
Having Maps Available
It wasn’t that long ago that we encountered actual maps in our everyday lives. It was customary to keep a map in your glove box so you wouldn’t get lost. Technology brings advantages and disadvantages when it comes to travel and understanding geography.
Yes, we can get directions to anywhere on our smartphones, but we rarely spend time pouring over a Rand McNally atlas like we once did. In some ways, a paper map makes it seem a little more concrete, and there are countless ways to include maps in your homeschool:
- children’s atlases
- fold-up maps
- map placemats
- children’s books
- geography timelines
So keep those atlases and globes around. With them, you can see the intentional design of Washington D.C., learn about its history, and the designer, Pierre Charles L’Enfant, or you can use the globe to explain how it’s morning in the US while it’s nightime in China.
What child doesn’t love to spin a globe and see where their finger lands? Having actual maps accessible will help them create that mental map in their mind that they turn to again and again when learning new things.
Travel Through Books
Of course, we have our books of maps and children’s atlases, but what about all the wonderful picture books and read-alouds that take us to another land?
Young children love to hear tales from around the world, and this is the perfect time to compare stories. How are they different and in what ways are they similar? Read folk tales from China and see if it reminds them of a story they know? Drawing those connections can make for interesting conversations about cultures and their myths.
As you read aloud in your homeschool, do a little research and find more about the setting. When you’re reading Heidi, locate Switzerland on the globe and learn about the Alps. Even a book as charming as Ben and Me can can help you see Benjamin Franklin and American history in a new way.
Taste Your Way Around the World
This one might take a little more courage for some of you, as we can get slightly set in our culinary preferences, but food provides an opportunity to taste the world and experience a variety of cultures right at home.
Have you never tried Indian food? Well, look up new recipes and have an Indian themed dinner.
Is there an Asian market in your community? Go and explore the wonders in the produce section, as there will undoubtedly be something you have never seen before.
If you aren’t that adventurous yet, you could always find videos and shows online of traditional foods being prepared.
Combine All Three
To truly inspire a love of world geography in your homeschool, and have a lot of fun, combine all three.
Choose a family read-aloud that will take you to a new place, such as The Secret of the Andes. As you read along, you can find Peru on the map, and label cities and landmarks.
Next, research the foods they eat and find a recipe that will appeal to your family. Culminate your study with a Peruvian themed dinner, while you listen to Andean flute music and watch travel videos about Machu Pichu and Lake Titicaca.
The World is at Our Doorstep
The rise of technology has certainly made the world a smaller place. We no longer need to wait and hear the stories of travelers that have returned from a far off land. We can go right to a location using Google Earth and YouTube.
It’s really quite amazing.
Yes, your children can learn the location of Peru and label its capital, but that doesn’t even begin to convey the beauty of the land, its culture, and its people.
So look for ways to inspire a love of geography in your homeschool. Whether it’s a trip to a local Mercado, reading a book set in Ireland, or pouring over maps at the dinner table, there are so many ways to bring the wonders of the world to your home.
Trail Guide to World Geography is a versatile 36-week, multi-level, homeschool geography curriculum guide for students to explore our world. Atlas drills, outline map activities and weekly assignment choices for each continent, span many interests and learning styles for grades 3-12.