Do you include geography studies and activities in your homeschool? Many of us know we should, but sometimes we have a hard time coming up with a simple plan. The good news is that most kids are curious about the physical geography and cultural geography of our world. We just have to make an opportunity for hands-on and relevant learning situations and our kids most times will just eat it up! Here are my best tips for how to add geography to your homeschool. There are simple resources for every grade level and for combining multiple ages.
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Here is some inspiration for what you could include in geography studies at each level. You could add geography to your daily schedule, to your weekly or loop schedule, or even just carve out a week or two and treat it as a unit study.
Homeschool Geography for Lower Elementary K-3
Most young children have a small view of the world. Their world mainly consists of family and local community. So it can be hard for them to comprehend a world outside their own. For this age, it’s even more important to connect geography studies with what they already know.
A great way to make this connection for young kids is to talk about the animals of the world. Most kids are familiar with animals from around the globe, but they may not realize that they live in different regions or continents. Grab a wall map, print out pictures of animals, and start placing them on the map where they live. Talk about the climates and countries that the animals live in.
Children are also curious about other children. So we loved using the book Children Just Like Me.
You could read about a new country each week, find it on the world map, and explore foods or customs mentioned.
Head to your library and ask the librarian to direct you to books from around the world. Or check out this book list from around the world from the Playdough To Plato blog.
Finally, don’t be afraid to get your hands dirty! Kids love hands-on learning, and creating a salt dough map of the world or certain regions can be a lot of fun and educational.
Homeschool Geography for Upper Elementary 4-6
Use all the suggestions above, especially if you’re combining several ages together. Then you can add some of these additional ideas for the upper elementary crowd.
If you’re already using a history curriculum or main book, like Story of the World or Mystery of History, it is easy to add geography into your normal flow. Add a sticker or mark the wall map with a symbol related to the history lesson when you learn about different regions of the world. I especially like how Story of the World and Mystery of History follow a chronological approach, so that you might be jumping all around the globe but learning about events that happened within the same century or decade!
One of my all-time favorite books for teaching kids about landforms is Geography from A to Z. Purchase a copy, then settle in to lots of hands-on ideas for applying the information in this book. Your kids can create worlds using the salt dough recipe above and include as many landforms as they can. Or have your kids create an illustrated geography book. For the techie kids, let them create a multi-media presentation or YouTube video about landforms and famous examples of each.
When I was a middle school geography teacher, one of the best projects my classes ever did was the GeoBear Project. Have you heard of it? You send a small stuffed animal around the world on an adventure, and they report back to you as you track their progress around the globe. Sometimes they send postcards and hopefully they return with some souvenirs. Download your very own GeoBear project instructions at the end of this post.
Homeschool Geography for Grades 7 & above
For the middle and upper grades, you might want to cover some geography yearly in a unit study, or you might need a full year course. Either way, you can use my Ultimate YouTube Playlist for World Geography as a jumping off point and just add a great geography encyclopedia or textbook. My high schoolers have used BJUP Cultural Geography, which is a thorough coverage of the five themes of geography and every region of the world.
If you’d like to use my YouTube Playlist for your kids, but want a bit more structure for them as they watch the videos, then my Video Response Assignment Bundle is for you! This bundle includes 29 pages of assignments and the 233 video links in the YouTube Playlist. Use the code GEO2018 to save $5.
Or checkout my Themes of Geography Bundle for an additional 30 pages of projects designed to get your students to dive deeper into the five themes of geography. Use the code GEO2018 to save $5.
And don’t forget about Google Earth! Apart from actually traveling around the world, this might come close. It’s fun to take places from your history study and drop them into Google Earth and watch as you zoom down into the landform or famous structure. Get a feel for the surroundings of famous cities, waterways, rivers, and borders between countries. You just might pick up more from hours of playing on Google Earth than the same few hours reading a dry geography textbook. Learning is the key. How you do it is up to you.
Finally, for every age and stage, check out the resources at Unit Study.com and Geography Matters! Both sites are hosting a Black Friday through Cyber Monday 50% off sale. So head on over and stock up on great resources for teaching geography at every level.
Don’t forget to grab your FREE GeoBear instructions below. And all my subscriber freebies are always available in my resource library. Check it out!