Thursday, January 24, 2013

Where on Earth?

new book
Over our holiday break, I made a few revisions to our routine. One place where I made a change was with our geography study.  Last year, and for the first half of this school year, we have been doing one geography lesson a week.  This would include either work in the Maps, Globes and Graphs workbooks published by Steck Vaughn or our passport program we started last year. I found that one day a week didn't allow for great retention of new knowledge. I decided to switch geography over to the same model of study we use for other 'minor' subjects.  We will now be spending two to three days a week of more in depth study over a period of five or six weeks.  We already cover music, civics, and health in the same way.

Conveniently enough, there are five major themes in geography, so that works well with my plan of a five week unit.  Each week we will focus on a different theme using resources such as BrainPOP, our Usborne Geography Encyclopedia, and other online learning tools. In addition, I purchased a new book for our library, Challenging World Geography by Richard Rayburn. The book is split up into sections for each of the seven* continents. We decided to start with North America since our home happens to be located on that landmass. This new workbook is really helping the boys to learn how to use tools like atlases and search engines to find answers in the activities.  Yesterday they each had a worksheet that gave them a list of mountains of North America.  They had to find the location and height of each, arrange them in order from the tallest down, and then create a bar graph comparing the five tallest. Today they needed to locate notable bodies of water of North America.  We also watched a BrainPOP video about climate types and did the corresponding printable quiz.

I find that splitting subjects out into these smaller units really helps, not only for the boys' focus, but for my planning.  When I allow myself to spread a subject too thin, I don't always spend the time working out the details.  Concentrating on one thing for a few weeks at a time keeps the subject matter focused and keeps it from becoming tedious.

When we have completed the geography unit, we will only have our health unit left before our school year wraps up for the summer.  It's freezing here tonight, with an expected low of 2°F. It's hard for me to believe that summer is just around the corner when I feel that frigid wind blowing, but I know it won't be long before I'm wishing the heat away again.

*There was some debate in our household over whether or not there are seven continents.  We found C.G.P Grey's video, What are Continents? to be an amusing explanation and are still not sure what we believe.

No comments: