For the last two years, our study of Geography has consisted of little more than workbook activities. This year, I decided to make the study of our place in the world a little more project based.
The idea came when I received a packet in the mail from Highlights Magazine about their Top Secret Adventures program. After looking at what was offered, I decided I could pull off something similar with my own materials. The sample packet came with a few of their guide books for various countries, stickers and one 'passport'. I had each of the boys make their own passports instead of using the one included. Each month, they choose a country they plan to 'visit'. In the beginning, I am having them choose from the countries represented by the books we received from Highlights, but later we will move on to others and find appropriate resources elsewhere. During the month that follows, they are to research their country by reading the book and finding other information on the internet. At the end of the month they must show what they have found by making a poster or writing a composition. For September, JT chose Japan and EM chose Greece. They spent three weeks doing their research. During the final week of the month, they each put together a poster for their country. Then they presented what they had learned to our family. When they were finished, we put the corresponding sticker into the passport to record their visit.
JT's Japan poster
For our domestic Geography studies, we are using a great set of DVDs I picked up off the History Channel website. The States is an entertaining and informative series. Each episode thoroughly covers five states. I come away with a great deal of new knowledge every episode. Watching this series may be the next best thing to actually visiting each of our states. We are trying to cover one episode per week.
The final portion of our Geography study this year is map work. EM is using Maps, Globes and Graphs Level C put out by Harcourt. JT is using Maps, Charts, Graphs Level F by Modern Curriculum Press. Both books teach map skills and themes of Geography. I only pull the workbooks out about two times a month. I don't want to turn the excitement of discovering new places in our world into tedium with seat work. They are already capable of finding both states and countries on our map of the United States in the classroom and the world map in our library. They probably know the location of more countries than I do, just from playing games like Risk and Axis and Allies with my husband! I hope someday we will be able to explore our world in much more of a hands-on way through travel as a family. For now, we will read our books and watch our movies...visiting with our imaginations.