Topic | Need Geography curriculum for 1st-3rd grades

This topic contains 11 replies, has 9 voices, and was last updated by  Rachel White 5 years, 6 months ago.

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  • mtnmama

    My kids are young– 2, 5, and 7 yrs. and I would like to start them in geography.

    What is a good book, website, etc. that includes the basics (types land formations and bodies of water, naming continents and oceans, etc.) maybe in addition to more details (naming countries and cities)? 

    Not a curriculum, but we are currently reading Paddle to the Sea, by Holling C. Holling. It is superbly written – a story format – but so much learning packed in there. We finished chapter nine today and I just marvel at how this book has us talking non-stop about the Great Lakes, St. Lawrence River and all the geography (and history too) from Lake Superior all the way to the Atlantic Ocean.

    It might be more narrowly focused than you are looking for (?) but for us it’s been a perfect intro – we live close to the Great Lakes, so it’s been a great start for geography overall, ie. has us pulling out the Atlas often, and almost every page includes a little map, so we are almost by accident building up map skills!

    Like you, I had originally intended on a geography curriculum, but this has my three way more engaged (ages 5, 7, 8).

    The author has several others that are similar and go further south, if you are American – Tree in the Trail (or some similiar title), Minn of the Mississippi – can’t recall all the titles but if you look up the author on Amazon all his titles will come up.

    HTH a little!



    If you are doing Paddle to the Sea – you may want to look at Google Earth Lit Trips.  You need to download Google Earth – and then you can download the “lit trips” for some books – and it shows you where the people went on Google Earth.  It is really great.

    just search for “google Lit trips” and you should find it.


    We’re using Galloping the Globe and loving it!  It’s a geography unit study geared toward k-4th grade.  I plan to use it for 2 years, while our 2 younger kids are in 1st-3rd grade.  I just did a blog post on it with an overview of our lesson plans.  You can view it here….


    Let me know if you have any questions. 




    Rachel White

    Geography from A to Z by Jack Knowlton:

    Maps and Globes by Jack Knowlton:

    Around the World coloring book from Dover

    Children’s Atlas of the World (ours is the Readers Digest version)


    We used this from Veritas Press (maybe available cheaper on amazon?)  We used it along with Module 1 two years ago.  My girls still ask when we get to do it again (which we will in a few years when baby girl is in first). also has printables that are nice and easy to use.


    We haven’t done this yet, so take it for what it’s worth….but I am planning to a world geography overview with my dd nest year (2nd grade). The resources I am planning to use are:

    For Physical Geography:

    CM’s Elementary Geography (free online)

    Supplemented by Legends and Leagues (mentioned above by lgeurink) for map-reading skills

    For Cultural Geography:

    The Seven Sisters by Jane Andrews (from Yesterday’s Classics)

    several of the Twins books by Lucy Fitch Perkins (also Yesterday’s Classics) – which ones will depend on interest and time

    We will probably also spend a couple weeks on the Arctic/Antarctic just because this area of the world isn’t covered in depth in the SCM modules which we plan to start the following year. We also have the books What the World Eats and Material World (recommended as resources on the SCM curriculum guide) so will reference the appropriate sections of these as we read about different areas of the world in the above.

    For map drill, we will learn the continents and oceans. We already find different countries/states on the map as we read about things, and will continue to do that.

    We will take a full year to do this, probably twice a week – one day for a reading/possible actvity on physical geography and another for a reading/activity on cultural geography.

    HTH some. Like I said, I haven’t actually done this yet, but it is a plan I am excited about for next year. HTH some.



    We used CM’s Elementary Geography as well and thought it was good. 


    The Lucy Fitch Perkins books are precious as well.  My kids enjoyed them!


    I also picked up a copy of the A Child’s Geography: Explore His Earth by Ann Voskamp, at the booksale.  It looks great, but for older kids. I plan to use it in a couple of years when we finish the Galloping the Globe study.  


    Beautiful Feet also provides a geography study guide for use with the Holling C. Holling books mentioned by Andi above.  I believe it’s geared for 3rd – 7th grade.  





    I would start with the child-friendly Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary. It’s something we pull out when we come across geography terms in our reading. You can find it on Amazon here:


    One little thing we do with each of our children when they turn 6 (although the younger ones are exposed to it…) – is buy a map book of our city for them, and show them how it works.  Then on car rides, they can choose to follow where we are in the car in their map book.  (I have to admit that at first, it helps if there is an adult passenger who can help them find where they are when they get lost…)   Our kids go through periods of doing that.  It really helps them see how a map works, which helps in things like world maps or country maps.

    As a bonus, my son got his Cub “Guide Badge” very quickly once he became a cub, as it was mostly map reading…


    We use the book Tristan mentioned as well as the Hollings books and a few other “living” geography books.  We also VERY loosely use Galloping the Globe.  We choose a country and then check out lots of books to learn about it.  We read folk legends, nonfiction, fiction set in the country.  We read books about the famous landmarks in the country and animals that specific to that area.  We’ll do a craft here and there, and OF COURSE learn where it is on the map.  At the end we have a big party and eat only foods from that country.  We add any movies and video clips we can find as well.  We don’t confine ourselves to a certain time period.  For example, right now we’re studying China.  We’ll read about ancient China, the various dynasties, current China, how and why the Great Wall was built, how to make paper and silk, Marco Polo, Mt. Everest, giant pandas, etc.  We also take as long as we want doing a country/area.  My purpose it to help them learn to appreciate, perhaps even love, an area and see the beauty of the world and its peoples, not to drill every minute detail.  

    We do a more “formal” geography while doing the SCM guides.  Or during our map drills which we do every Friday.

    I also use the Rand McNally Beginner Geography book for learning map related skills.

    Rachel White

    This is for children slightly older, but I thought I’d pass it along anyway and it’s free:

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