If you had mentioned geography to me 17 years ago, when I started homeschooling, my mind would have immediately visualized dusty maps with puzzling colored shapes and lists of imports, exports, and natural resources. Oh, and currency types. And sometimes a line-up of flags around the border.
But today my concept of geography has changed dramatically. It is now intricately linked to the people and events with whom I’ve formed a relation in my history readings. It is also tied to the present-day people I’ve met through travel books, current event magazines, and missionaries’ videos.
And that’s as it should be. History and geography are not about numbers, they are about real people and real places. They are living subjects and should be taught as such. With the Charlotte Mason method, they are. Today we’ll talk a bit about teaching geography in a Charlotte Mason way.
Living Books and Narration
Last week we looked at identifying and selecting good living books for history. The same guidelines apply for geography. Yes, there are wonderful living geography books available that will help your child visit places around the world without ever leaving home. Of course, if you can actually make the trip, do so; but that’s not always possible. Living geography books are the next best thing to being there. And asking for a narration of each reading will help cement the book’s contents in your child’s mind. You will find that Charlotte used living books and narration to teach many subjects to great advantage.
But there is another way you can use living books to help your child learn about geography. Whenever you read a living book—no matter on which subject,— locate its setting on a map or globe. This technique will help your child see the countries on the map as places where people and animals reside and events occur, not just as funny-colored shapes. So if you’re reading Heidi, for example, go look up the Swiss Alps and see where they are located. If you’re reading Jack’s Insects, locate on a map or a globe where each insect lives. Such natural connections do wonders to help make geography “living” for your child.
A simple once-a-week activity can help your child learn the big picture and see how the world’s countries are situated in relation to each other. Here are the details.
Give each child a blank outline map of the region (I usually focus on one continent at a time.) and ask him to label any countries he already knows. When he has labeled all he knows, give him a labeled map of the region. Tell him to check that he has recorded correct spellings and locations, then to copy one or two more countries onto his map. The next week, give him a new blank outline map of the same region and repeat the instructions. As he sees the same region each week, he will become quite familiar with it and, little by little, put together the pieces in his mind. When coupled with the living books ideas given above, map drill will help round out your geography studies.
My friend Linda blogged about the way she was taught to do map study, which was commonly used in British schools. It’s a simple technique that places the emphasis on careful observation and perfect execution and would make a great complement to the map drill outlined above.
SCM at Northeast Homeschool Convention in Hartford, Connecticut
This weekend, June 14–16, Simply Charlotte Mason will be at the Northeast Homeschool Convention in Hartford, Connecticut. Sonya will be presenting these workshops:
- Charlotte Mason and Her Methods—Thursday, 3:30 PM
- Laying Down the Rails: The Power of Good Habits in Your Homeschool—Friday, 8:30 AM
- The Early Years: Homeschooling Your Preschooler—Saturday, 11:30 AM
- Learning with Living Books—Saturday, 4:00 PM
We will have our products at our booth in the exhibit hall (Booth 522), available at special conference pricing. So if you’re in the area, stop by and say hello. We would love to see you there!
This is part of the series: Subject by Subject
How to teach each school subject in a Charlotte Mason way.
- A Generous Curriculum: Subject By Subject,
- Three Basic CM Principles: Subject by Subject, Part 2
- Teaching History: Subject by Subject, Part 3
- Teaching Geography: Subject by Subject, Part 4
- Teaching Spelling: Subject by Subject, Part 5
- Teaching Bible: Subject by Subject, Part 6
- Teaching Handicrafts: Subject by Subject, Part 7
- Teaching Science: Subject by Subject, Part 8
- Teaching Foreign Language: Subject by Subject, Part 9
- Teaching Music: Subject by Subject, Part 10
- Teaching Writing: Subject by Subject, Part 11
- Teaching Literature: Subject by Subject, Part 12
- Teaching Grammar: Subject by Subject, Part 13
- Teaching Beginning Reading: Subject by Subject, Part 14
- Teaching Art: Subject by Subject, Part 15
- Teaching Poetry: Subject by Subject, Part 16
- Teaching Math: Subject by Subject, Part 17