Geography is a fun subject of study and can be done any school year at any age. You can include it as a separate subject but is more naturally learned in the context of history, science, and even art. Geography can easily meld into your daily routine.
It is vital to establish a foundation of geography and creating a simple state study is an effective way to generate interest. Have you covered your home state? Do your children know where your state is located within the boundaries of the United States? Do they know basic information about your state geography and history? If not, why not consider some of these ideas and begin to implement them into your school routine?
Even if your school schedule is rolling along, you can always select something that will fit in naturally amidst your daily life. Or better yet, give as filler to students waiting for your attention while you are working with a sibling. This can be a fun way to use their time and certainly more beneficial than screen time on a game or app.
Two key tools for any homeschool library are outline maps and a good U.S. atlas. Your world atlas will likely have only one map of the United States found in the North America section. A good U.S. Atlas will include a separate more detailed map of each state along with regional and topical maps. Watch that the state map is intact on one page and does not cross the binding as this can be difficult for some students.
Here is a good way to begin: Give your children an outline map of your state. Have them find the state capital in the atlas and place a star in that location on their outline map. Now they can write the name of the capital next to the star. Label the names of each surrounding state, country or body of water. What other features do you see on the map in the atlas? Mountains? Lakes? Desert area? Rivers? Draw and label them as well.
Any good U.S. atlas will also have interesting information on each state. You can read this aloud or instruct your student to read it aloud to the family or quietly to himself. Each state is different and fascinating in its own way. Encourage your students to discover something new and write about it or draw a picture of what they’ve learned.
Here are some simple activities that will serve to connect your students with the geography of your state:
• Create a travel brochure about the state.
• Make a crossword puzzle with information about the state.
• Make a three-dimensional state map with salt dough. (2 parts water, 1 part salt, 1 part water)
• Create a set of post cards with drawings or pictures of popular places or events
• Learn about the natural resources found in the state, how they are used, and how they affect the economy.
• Learn the state bird, flower, tree, and symbols and what they mean.
• Learn the state motto and date of statehood.
• Cook a meal with ingredients grown in your state or that is popular in your state.
Students can share what they have learned with the family over a meal at the kitchen table, during family discussions, through writing a summary, while driving to music lessons, in a poster or other ways. Make it fun and light hearted and it won’t even feel like school.
Once your students have a grasp of their home state, why not add another? Try learning about where grandma lives, a favorite sports team location, vacation spots, bordering states, or any other connection you can think of.
However you work geography into your life you will not regret laying a geographic foundation and your students will have life-long benefits from knowing about their country.
Desk Atlas of the United States
Are you in need of a good US Atlas? We are so proud to introduce the Desk Atlas of the United States brought to you by Geography Matters. Filled with lots of fun facts, historical references, and important data, the Desk Atlas will become a valuable reference tool in your home for years to come.