How-To

6 Ways to Incorporate Geography

6 Ways to Incorporate Geography

It is always best to introduce a topic when it is at its most relevant to the student, and geography is no different. We can spend weeks memorizing geographic terms or learning about a country to take a quiz at the end, but rarely does the knowledge stick. Instead we can use the 6 ways below to incorporate geography into our other studies.

Back in 2005, when Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans, one of the news channels reported the following:

Despite the wall-to-wall coverage of the damage from Hurricane Katrina, nearly one-third of young Americans recently polled couldn’t locate Louisiana on a map and nearly half were unable to identify Mississippi.

Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 fared even worse with foreign locations: six in 10 couldn’t find Iraq, according to a Roper poll conducted for National Geographic.

To make matters worse:

Fewer than three in 10 think it important to know the locations of countries in the news and just 14 percent believe speaking another language is a necessary skill.

Pretty hard to solve the world’s problems if you don’t know where in the world they are!

Here are a few ways to incorporate geography into your homeschool day in a more natural way, when its relevance will aid learning:

  1. Map it.
    When reading a book, take the time to find the locations being discussed on a map. If your child is keeping a notebook for a book study, find the locations mentioned on a map and include those in your notebook.
  2. Provide resources.
    Keep maps, globes, and atlases handy, stored at the child’s level, and readily available. Encourage the habit of looking things up by practicing it yourself.
  3. Tie geography to history.
    When learning about a particular time period investigate the peoples of that time, where they lived, what they did, and the culture in which they lived.
  4. Read living geography books.
    Some authors have a way of helping you feel you are really there. Biographies, especially those of explorers and missionaries, can frequently be a wonderful source for seeing the world. All Through the Ages by Christine Miller includes a geography section with recommended titles per geographic area.
  5. Incorporate geography when studying current events.
    Dr. Jay Wile, author of the Exploring Creation With series, explains how this worked in his home:

    In geography, [my daughter] looked in the paper once a week and found a new locality. She then did a one-page essay on where the locality was, what its significance to the world was, what the economic base was, and what kind of government there was.

    If you are looking for a good source from which to pull your news articles, try Student News Daily.

  6. Avoid textbooks.
    Use interesting books that cover geographic terms, physical features, seasons, maps, and statistics. You’ll find a few of our favorites below.

One final note: most of us have a tendency to overdo when it comes to most things homeschool. (If learning five terms is good, then learning 25 must be better — those kids are REALLY going to know this stuff!) But as with most things, there is a diminishing point of returns. Being geographically aware doesn’t mean becoming geographically burdensome! As always, maintain a balance.

Hopefully, when our children end their homeschooling careers and move on in life, they will not only be able to find Louisiana, but will have the lifelong learning habit of knowing where in the world locations are!

 

Additional Resources

The World Factbook
Handy CIA site that “provides information on the history, people, government, economy, geography, communications, transportation, military, and transnational issues for 267 world entities.”

Geography
Other geography resources here at DIYHomeschooler.

 

Activities

Cardinal Directions Resources & Mapmaker Kit {Free}
Free download from National Geographic.

Interactive Map Maker {Free}
Great interactive that helps students make their own maps.

 

Books

6 Ways to Incorporate GeographyGeography From A to Z: A Picture Glossary by Jack Knowlton
Simple picture book that can be used as the basis for creating a geography term notebook. Read our entire review.

Home Geography for Primary Grades by C. C. Long
Living geography book compatible with the Charlotte Mason approach.

Mathematical Geography by Willis E. Johnson
Fascinating book for older students covering longitude and time, circumnavigation and time, the earth’s revolution, time and the calendar, and seasons.

 

Unit Studies & Lesson Plans

Maps: A Unit StudyMaps: A Unit Study
Our own free unit covering the study of maps.

Country Study {Free Unit Study}
Free unit study that will help a student study any country.

Free 1-Year Unit Study Curriculum
Free unit covering geography with a missions focus.

 

Printables & Notebooking Pages

Portable Atlas (PAT) {Featured Site}
Great map printables.

Country Notebooking Pages
Four-page download from NotebookingFairy.com with room for recording quick facts about a country along with flag, map, narrations, and other illustrations.