Module 1…specifically geography

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  • LindseyD

    Ok, so we’re going to start Module 1 this year. I’ve already got the book, and I’m looking for the read-alouds to go with it. My question is: Is it wise to do the geography presented in Module 1 AND learn continents and oceans, and eventually the 50 states OR is that too much for a ds6?

    I had intended for us to get to the continents and oceans during this current year, but it didn’t happen. Additionally, I don’t want to wait another 2 years before teaching those concepts. 

    It’s not that I don’t think he can handle it, because I really believe he would love it. Plus, there’s not an overwhelming amount of geography in Module 1. We have Uncle Josh’s Outline Maps and a wall map of the world. I would like for him to, by the end of the year, label the continents and oceans and several if not most of the 50 United States. I do not, however, want to confuse him or overwhelm him with too much geography.

    What would you do or recommend?

    Geographically perplexed,



    I must say that I was shocked when I came to the end of the first paragraph and realized that your son was only 6. That seems like an awful lot for a 6 year old. First, because geography is difficult for young children to understand. Second, it doesn’t seem like CM’s “the gentle art of learning” to expect a 6 year old to do that much geography in a year.

    May I ask what your rush is in teaching him this much this early? At the age of 6, he can only be in K or 1st grade. That leaves 11 or 12 more years to get all of geography in. Why not wait until it is covered in the other modules? Continents and oceans would be covered as they show up around (or as) the continent studied for the year. US geography shows up in Module 6.



    With the small amount of geography in Module 1, it didn’t seem like that much. There are only 7 continents and 4 oceans. He already has an understanding of the world and that there are lots of different places in the world. It is gentle because I don’t push anything on him. He is halfway through 1st grade, not because I asked too much of him but because he is a really fast learner and enjoys school time. I guess I shouldn’t have asked the question.

    Sonya Shafer

    It would probably be pretty easy to add the continents and oceans to your map drill of Module 1, Lindsey.

    I think I would recommend introducing the fifty states in a different setting than geography lessons for now. For example, you could get a US map placemat and at lunch every day you and he could review extended family members and friends and locate where they live. Or if you get a letter or package from someone he knows, you could locate the state it was mailed from. You get the idea. Nothing formal, but a great way to help him relate to the states in a personal way and introduce some during the year.



    It is always good to ask. I’m sorry if I sounded harsh to you. I didn’t think I was but I’m guessing now that I did.

    Here’s where my thoughts come from:

    I currently have 5, 8 and 9 year olds. Althought they enjoy school and also have a sense of the world. There is still so much for them to learn just from life. There is no better teacher. So for your son, I’m just thinking that the time could be better spent doing nature study or learning to cook or writing a letter to a grandparent or even just having time to build legos or do a puzzle.

    I also have a 12 year old (starting 8th grade) and a 13 year old (starting high school) and have been spending a lot of time looking back over our years of homeschooling and really working thru what was good, what was bad and what could have been better. The thing I’m most happy with is when we moved with their interests and let them discover for themselves (for example, we bought every field guide we could get our hands on when they were in 1st and 2nd grade because they LOVED nature and wanted to look stuff up-I would find them reading the field guides!). I wish I would have relaxed more with other things, realizing that it would come, they would learn and it would be fine.

    I’ve also found that geography is best learned with history. There is much more meaning to “what this place is called” when you also have an understanding of what has happened there and who the people are who live there. So it would make more sense to me to cover geography as you got to places historically.

    Now, if your son is interested in geography and asks what places are called, then, by all means, tell him. Or if he is writing a letter to someone from another state or country, show him where it is on a map so he can “place” it.

    Another thought: I had a mom of two homeschool graduates tell me to “start with the end in mind”. I took out a planner page and wrote down where I wanted them to be in each subject (including life skills) by the time they graduated from high school and backtracked from there. That gave me a good idea of what and how much to teach each year. Have you done something like that? It may help to know.

    Again, I’m sorry if I offended you in any fashion. I did not intend too.



    Hi Lindsey,

    I haven’t used module 1 yet, so I have no idea what’s covered in that module or an opinion about adding to it.

    However, if you want a simple fun addition to your geography studies, try Audio Memory’s Geography Songs. We used it a couple of years ago when we were learning the 50 states & the continents & oceans. We’re using the cd again this year with our module 4 studies (Europe & Asia). You could pop it in while in the car and he’ll be singing the songs in no time. I must say that because of these songs, I and my 9yo can find any state in record time. We didn’t do any in depth study of the US when we did it, it was simply learning the names and locations, I hadn’t yet tied geography to history.




    Sonya, thank you for your answer. I also like your idea of placing different family members and friends on the US map, because we do have several family members who live cross-country.

    Rebecca, yes, your answer did seem harsh. It’s not as if I would make my son learn the 50 states for hours on end. In keeping with your suggested “gentle art of learning”, I have very successfully implemented CM’s recommended short lessons; and geography would be no different. In my opinion, 5 or 10 minutes’ worth of looking at a map doesn’t take away time spent outdoors or with Legos or writing letters. He does all those things and still has 5 or 10 (much more) minutes to spare each day. Besides, at his age, geography would be a once-or-twice-per-week subject. Also there are 52 weeks in a year and 50 states. If he learned to identify one state per week, that to me would be a very successful, yet very gentle start to learning about his own country. Thank you for your input about starting with the end in mind. No matter what subject, that is a valuable piece of advice.

    Christie, I’ll have to look into that CD. It sounds exactly like something both my kiddos would enjoy. Thanks!


    We never really “taught” geography in the sense of “learning” the states or anything like that.  Now, my kids know all the states, and most countries, by sight, but we did that with games and puzzles and constant “Oh, look, this is set in Mississippi–where’s Mississippi?  What’s it like there?”  We always kept globes, wall maps, and atlases everywhere and the kids just naturally were fascinated with them.  We have several fun computer games, in addition to board and card games and puzzles.  This worked very well for us.

    For actual geography instruction, we tried to stick very close to Charlotte Mason’s ideas.  Meaning, we started close to us, first, by exploring our environment.  The children learned and we looked for and discussed, prairies, creeks, rivers, hills, bluffs, forests.  We learned to identify the four directions.  We learned to use a compass and basic finding-our-way things.  We explored the streets of our town, and practiced giving each other directions to get to certain places.  We looked at maps and drew maps.  We “took pictures” with our minds and then went home and drew pictures of and maps of what we saw.  We did these things at about 5-6-7 and then began trying to find our place in the larger world.  We slowly added learning about states, climate zones, habitats, countries, continents, oceans as we encountered them in reading, videos, etc.  I really liked Charlotte’s ideas of making sure geography was at first tied to their experiences, to make it real, and then tapping into imagination as they grew older and they began reading.  It is so easy and no-stress to do it this way.  When we read Mr. Popper’s Penguins, we just naturally wanted to learn about Antarctica and other animals, about polar regions and cold, and why they are cold. 

    Just a thought.  This really worked well for us.  We weren’t really drilling things that the child did not already know and understand about.  In fact, we didn’t do much drilling at all.  Our mapwork was always related to what we were doing.  We relied on games for the rest.  It just seemed so painless this way.  Since handwriting for us was NOT painless, we just really needed this approach.  And my kids have ended up very geographically aware.  They delighted me the other day–it was mentioned in a video about what the USSR did to the Aral Sea–and my kids knew where the Aral Sea was!  I was pleased. 


    Another idea for learning the states is a puzzle – Timberdoodle has a great one from Lauri.  My girls started learning the states when they were about three because NONE of our family lives near us, so we learned the states they lived in just by pointing them out periodically, in the puzzle or on the map.  Then when we traveled to visit them we “mapped” the route – with our finger – and talked about the states we would fly over or drive through and so they learned a few more.  Then we had some books from the library, children’s picture books (Apples to Oregon, books about Johnny Appleseed and the states he planted apples in, etc….) that talked about different states, so we took a peak at the map for those too.  Then last year when they were just five and three, for map “drill”, they would stand in front of our big wall map of the US and I’d let them name as many states as they could and then we would find one more that they wanted to learn the name of… because they liked the shape or it was by another state they knew, kind of random, but since they were too young for “formal map drill” it was just a fun way to add to their knowledge.  I know CM was an advocate of having children go outdoors year round, but with subzero wind chill and blowing snow for a good part of the winter, we were inside for enough hours to accomplish quite a lot and still have lots of fun.


    When we use the songs, we sing them and look at the map during map drill. We’re labeling Europe right now and we use a numbered chart that I made b/c my kids can’t fit Luxembourg on the map – LOL. We also use the Montessori maps that Richele mentioned. So our geography map drill studies go like this.

    • Sing songs w/ the Montesorri Map & Labels
    • We add to our Uncle Josh’s printed map each week. (It was too much for them to re-label every week, so we are trying add as we go along.)

    That’s it. For the rest, we sing the songs in the car and play games. I forgot to mention the puzzles and games we’ve simply played with. We have a HUGE foam world puzzle with lots of the countries and my kids like figuring out where Daddy has traveled. We also have a Hop-On Geography game of the US that we play for fun and a large floor puzzle of the US that are fun. 

    My kids like it when we let them lead walks, bike rides in our neighborhood. We haven’t really incorporated NSEW directions, but it’s been great for practicing left and right with the younger ones. I think we should start w/ the NSEW, esp. since it’s fairly simple here b/c we’re between the Atlantic ocean and a river that runs almost parallel to it.

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