• 3 Simple Ways to Foster a Love of World Geography in Your Homeschool

    0 comments / Posted by Geography Matters

    3 Simple Ways to Foster a Love of Geography in Your Homeschool | 

    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.

    Read more

  • Can I Really Tutor My Child?

    0 comments / Posted by Gina Glenn

    Tutoring is a framework for teaching that is based in relationship. It's a beautiful way to not only teach what you want your child to know, but to learn what your child would like to know. It doesn't have to be perfect, you just have to start. Homeschooling works. 

    Read more

  • 5 Tips for Teaching Geography When You Don't Love Geography

    1 comment / Posted by Gina Glenn

    Yes! You can learn to love geography and pass that love onto your children. These 5 tips for teaching geography when you don't love geography can restore geography excitement in your homeschool.

    Read more

  • 5 Reasons to Love Trail Guide to Learning

    0 comments / Posted by Gina Glenn

    Looking for a reason to love Trail Guide to Learning Series? Here are 5 of them.

    Read more

  • Getting to Know Great Britain {free mini-lesson}

    0 comments / Posted by Alex Wiggers

    A small island nation in the north Atlantic, Great Britain once ruled the largest empire in world history. Made up of England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the official name is The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. It is normally shortened to Great Britain, Britain, United Kingdom, or the UK. The capital city is London.

    Read more

  • Getting to Know Geography (and Great Britain) Through Art {free geography lesson}

    0 comments / Posted by Alex Wiggers

    Enjoy a fun mini-lesson in geography involving peanut butter and Stonehenge!

    Read more

  • Getting to Know the Netherlands

    0 comments / Posted by Geography Matters

    When it comes to Thanksgiving, most of us don't think of the Netherlands. Let's get to know the Netherlands -- where they are, the character of the people, and the role they played in our American Thanksgiving. 

    Keep your research fun and simple to create a quick study!

    Getting to Know Netherlands 

    Where is it? {and other interesting facts...}

    "A small, low-lying country the size of Maryland, the Netherlands is frequently referred to as “Holland.” 
    (Holland is actually a region in the central-western part of the Netherlands which includes the provinces of North Holland and South Holland). Almost half of the Netherlands lies below sea-level. Low lying areas reclaimed by the sea are called polders. Polders are protected by dikes and are continually being drained by mechanical pumps. The capital city of Amsterdam is built on a polder. The Netherlands along with Belgium and Luxembourg, form the area of Europe known as “The Low Countries.”
    "The flag of the Netherlands is a red, white, and blue horizontal tricolor. Originally the colors were orange, white, and blue to honor William of Orange, the first ruler of the Dutch Republic. During the 16th and 17th centuries the dye that was used for orange eventually turned red, so in the mid-1600s, the orange stripe was officially made a red stripe."
    "The Netherlands is world famous for its tulips, a member of the lily family. The name tulip means “turban” or “Turk’s cap.” The Dutch take horticulture very seriously and a new type of tulip is often the result of decades of experiments. Introduced in the 16th century, tulips became such a craze that outrageous prices were being paid for a single bulb. The market grew so wild in the 17th century—people were going bankrupt from stock speculation—that the government stepped in and regulated the industry."

    Getting to Know Netherlands - Who are they {unique characteristics of the people}

     From I Am Expat

    • Statistically, Dutch are among the tallest people in Europe.
    • Eye contact and criticism are to be expected when chatting with a Dutch.
    • The Netherlands has the highest number of part-time workers in the EU (four out of 10 employees).
    • One out of three Dutch belongs to a sports club.
    • Almost all Dutch people can swim, skate and ride a bike.
    • The Dutch always consult their agenda and do not appreciate "surprise" visits.
    • They are the world's second biggest coffee drinkers.
    • The Dutch are not conversation-starters. However, they will respond immediately and rather eagerly when addressed.
    • Dutch citizens take their own bags to the supermarket to pack their groceries.
    • When you introduce yourself, always state both first and last name and shake hands with everyone in the room.
    • Dutch ladies have to get kissed three times (right-left-right) on the cheek. Expats may get by with shaking hands though.
    • The Dutch enjoy one of the longest average life spans in the world.
    • Congratulating your Dutch friend for his / her birthday is more than expected.


    Freebies {coloring pages and maps}

     Country of Netherlands Coloring Pages


    The Netherland's Impact on America's Founding

    While all of that is interesting and you can learn a lot about the geography of the Netherlands, you might be asking yourself, "What does this have to do with Thanksgiving?"

     "The United Provinces of the Netherlands, the forerunner of nations in religious tolerance, were, from the origin of their confederacy, the natural friends of intellectual freedom. "

    Hall, V. M. (1976). The Christian history of the American Revolution: consider and ponder (p. 278). San Francisco: Foundation for American Christian Education.
    America's Founding and celebration of Thanksgiving began, in a way, long before in the hearts and minds of freedom loving people who would one day come to these shores. The Netherlands was a model of religious tolerance and intellectual freedom- two prerequisites to our Founding. 


    Don't forget to enter the Giveaway!


    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    And take advantage of our sale! {Click image}


    Read more

  • What is Geography, Anyway? {National Geography Awareness Week Fun & a Giveaway!}

    5 comments / Posted by Gina Glenn


    It's National Geography Awareness Week, a perfect time to make geography the centerpiece of your homeschool. 

    If this sounds daunting, it may help to visit how you define geography!  

    What’s the first thing you think of when you hear the word “geography”? 

    Maps? Globes? Carmen SanDiego?

    You’re not alone—those are the three most common responses in our geography seminars!


    What is geography, anyway?

    Maybe this definition from the National Geographic Society will help:

    Geography: "A knowledge of place names, location of cultural and physical features, distribution and patterns of languages, religions, economic activities, population and political systems. Physical regions and physical phenomena, such as tectonic activity, landform, climate, bodies of water, soils and flora and fauna. The changes in places and areas through time, including how people have modified the environment. Cartographers’ tools, such as maps, instruments, graphs and statistics, are also a part of geography."

    Wow! Maybe a better question might be, “What isn’t geography?


    The word “geography” is from the Greek word geographia, meaning “writing about the earth.” The word “earth” used here is all-inclusive regarding people, places, and the relationships between people and the places where they live and interact. So first and foremost, throw out the thought that geography is simply knowing countries and capitals!

    Geography can be broken into two main divisions: geography of the earth (physical geography) and geography of people who live here (human geography).

    • Physical Geography includes everything about the earth itself; its make-up, its position, and its movement in the solar system, the moon, seasons, its heat energy from the sun, the atmosphere, all natural features of the earth, water, rocks (geology), weather patterns, and other natural processes that shape the world. See how this is intertwined with science?

    • Human Geography is all about human lifestyles, beliefs, growth and development, the interactions of people to the earth itself and with other peoples who dwell here. It’s understanding where people live and why they live where they do, how they communicate, what they eat, how they dress, how they use their resources, how communities develop, and how people impact their own environment. It’s all about how these choices are related to the physical geography of the earth.

    Geography is so all encompassing that it’s easy to incorporate within the context of most any other subject matter. Your students will remember geography better when it’s naturally associated with something familiar.

    Now that you've had a glimpse into a definition of geography, onto the fun-- our National Geography Awareness Week Giveaway! 

    Giveaway Fun

    We're partnered with UnitStudies.com (read more about our connection here) to bring you a fun geography giveaway! 

    So, are you asking, "What's in the giveaway?"  Drumroll... here it is! 

    a Rafflecopter giveaway


    Bonus Fun -- National Geography Week Sale

    Save 20% on our favorite Geography Resources! 





    Read more

  • Connected Learning

    1 comment / Posted by Geography Matters

    by Debbie Strayer

    As a young education student in college, I learned how to create unit studies. I took a topic, say ice cream, and connected literature, math concepts, science, and activities. It was exciting to my students and interesting to me. It brought a freshness to the way I approached teaching because I was fitting the skills inside a framework that included activities and real books, rather than just reading a textbook. But this was only the beginning of my adventures with connected learning.

    As time went on, and I became a homeschooler, I started reading Ruth Beechick’s writings. She encourages integrating subjects together with a focus on meaning and ideas, not stopping with just learning facts about a topic. Skill learning, such as spelling, reading, and writing, is taught within the context of literature, history, and science, not as separate subjects. My understanding of teaching in a connected way made a great leap forward.

    When you teach your child focusing on ideas, not just topics, critical thinking skills are built. While studying the Civil War, look for the people of great character from both sides, not just the names and dates of battles. Talk about why they did what they did and whether or not your child agrees with their actions. By moving beyond rote level learning, you teach your children how to understand and evaluate information. One of the ways to help children take learning from short term memory to long term memory is to connect it with meaning. Biographies are a great way to attach meaning to events you study.

    As a parent of homeschool graduates, I can look back and say that whatever we did that was memorable was tied to this approach. When I would revert to less effective methods, I would get a list checked off, but nothing much in the way of long term learning. Even during our years of homeschooling high school, this method proved most satisfying. My children had learned the difference between genuine learning and learning to pass a test. This understanding is now a part of their thinking as adults.

    When you think about how you teach your children and the time it takes to use this approach, don’t think in terms of what it takes out of your daily schedule now, in time and effort. Think in terms of the view of learning that you are planting in their hearts and the years of fruit it will bear. When true learning has taken place, there really is no going back. Aren’t you glad?

    How is this method used in the Trail Guide to Learning?

    We not only cover each subject, but every subject in the Trail Guide relates. It is a natural way of learning as topics flow from one to the other. Children learn best when subjects overlap and build upon a main concept. 

    For example, in Paths of Exploration, students learn how our country was discovered and explored, from Columbus to the Westward Expansion. While studying the life and explorations of Christopher Columbus, students learn about his travels, read about his life in their literature, map out his treks in their geography, learn how he used the stars for navigation in their science lessons, and tie in activities like making a model ship out of a milk carton. When your child is able to make all these connections, he will have better retention and a deeper understanding of the subject matter. 

    The more sensory involvement you have with one topic, the more likely you are to remember and use that information. As children learn, they will share their experiences through notebooking, presentations and hands-on activities. Art, cooking, music and games combine to give children a taste of the times and a personal connection with the content that is unmatched by reading alone.


    Connected Learning | Learning doesn't happen in isolation. Why homeschool that way?

    Read more

  • Know Your State

    2 comments / Posted by Cindy Wiggers


    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.

    I’ve included a couple of printable pages from Trail Guide to U.S. Geography that can be used for a state report or as a foundation for a U.S. geography notebook. Click here to download them.

    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

    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.


    Read more