Thursday, June 29, 2006


How do we study geography in our family?

We use a variety of things to help us study the World we live in. Maps are the first things that spring to mind. We have a smallish map of the world on a notice board in our schooling area. 

  Surrounding this are postcards that have been sent to us from all over the world. There are several home school postcard lists you can join that are helpful for this. One is:


Dotted amongst the postcards are pictures of the “Flats” that have come to visit us for a month or so. This idea for learning geography comes from the book “Flat Stanley who was “flattened” one day and able to post himself around the world. We take these flats with us when we are out and about and also take photos of them with us doing things we do in our day at home. Then we post them home together with a CD of photos taken during their visit and bits and pieces of souvenirs. This  project has helped us to be good ambassadors/spokespeople for our own part of the world.  Then in return we send our own flats to different families and learn about such far away places  as Chile, Switzerland Ireland and more close to home in New Zealand!

 Another thing we do is have a very large world map 


under plastic on our dining table. The amount of times this gets used and for varied reasons is numerous! The older ones use it in their political debates; the middles have used it in history and the littles just to find out exactly where E……    lives in Canada!

We love to read geographical living books too! Here are smatterings we have “owned” as a family:

“The Day Jean Pierre went round the World” Paul Gallico (follow the adventures of this cute little guinea pig as he is handed from person to person before finally returning home)

“Letters from Felix” when I read this with L. he insisted on making his own suitcase from a file-folder and packing it with cardboard “souvenirs” of the places Felix visited.


“Water Buffalo Days” and “The Land I Lost” Huynh Quang Nhuong (Vietnam)(what my children appreciated here was the “fantastical adventures” that the author wrote about that were real life to him)

“Daughter of the Mountains” Louise Rankin (Tibet)

“Fu-Dog” Rumer Godden (China)

Tales for Telling Leila Berg(folk tales from 5 countries)

Su-Mei’s Golden Year Marguerite Hamon Bro (China)

The children of Noisy Village, Lotta, etc! Astrid Lindgren(Sweden; wonderful family stories too!)

Homesick: My Own Story Jean Fritz(moving story about a family having to leave china)

The Big Wave Pearl Buck(Japan)

Mei Fu Memories of China Edith Schaeffer (sweet experiences of the author’s early childhood)

The Spettercake Holiday Edith Unnerstad (Sweden)

Sailing to Freedom Voldemar Veedam (Estonian refugees traveling by boat from Sweden to the U.S post WWII; this was a can’t put it down readaloud for all our family, a book to be appreciated by all and one of our family memories)

“It’s A Jungle Out There” Ron Smell (South America)

Two Under the Indian Sun Jon and Rumer Godden (India)

The Journey of Ching Lai Eleanor Frances Lattimore

The Brendan Voyage Tim Severin (a leather boat tracks the discovery of America by Saint Brendan) Another book that became a favourite family readaloud; if we got to something that we felt was too technical/adult etc we as parents simply narrated that part in our own words. Sometimes necessary to do with books whose audience is primarily adult but as with all resources the book is only a tool in your hands; you choose how to use it. And what a pity to miss out on the whole book just because of a few passages we as parents might need to re-write!

How the Heather Looks Joan Bodger(a geographical literary tour of England by a family in 1958)Another wonderful read combining two of our favourite subjects; literature and geography!)


General Geography reference books we enjoy:

Rivers of the World Series Oxford University Press

Round the Wonderful World G.E Mitton (historical geography fascinating!)

Van Loon’s Geography

A Child’s History of geography  Hillayer

The Usborne Encyclopedia of World Geography


Montessori Geography cards: With the youngest three I have made cards to cover a variety of topics: Continents of the world, Oceans of the World, Physical land Features, Rivers, Caves etc. These are self correcting. On one will be the illustration, on the second the illustration plus title or a brief definition/description of the feature. I have also found when we study a country making picture cards of that culture/locality for the children to look at while we read our living geography book really helps to cement the place in their minds. Such cards are often shared on the following groups:                             


We have used a variety of methods to display our knowledge. Sometimes we have

                          our information or made lapbooks.


Another idea we have used successfully with the younger children is to place a hand drawn map of the country on the wall and attach to it things we make pertaining to that study. So surrounding our map of China we put fans, opera masks, several paper stuffed dogs, other animals of China, p’copy colored in covers of books we read, the menu of our Chinese meal, kites etc!

How to put dad going away so much this year for work in a positive framework? Put a map of Australia on the wall, label all the places he has been, passed through, received job offers from etc. Surround it with postcards dad sends home, internet photos of others and voila you have Australian geography and dad feels so much closer to us.


We have just started reading for the second time, with the younger children, The Bantry Bay series by Hilda van Stockum. I am thinking of keeping our records of this fairly low-key. Perhaps a shared family notebook. The illustrations are beautiful enough they beg to be copied and coloured. We can add pictures of Bantry Bay, a map of Ireland, Irish recipes, some Irish folk songs, Irish saints etc and here is our geography for the term! Or however it takes to complete. I am wondering if there are any crafts that are especially Irish that the children could do while I read aloud (H is in a knitting mood at present). Perhaps we could look at Irish painters. A bit of nature study. Learn a little gaelic…!! Ah well maybe I’m getting a little carried away; now if only the wee folks were here to help get it organized!   



Marjo.....B. said...

Thanks for this fun list! We love reading books to go along with our geography studies. :)

Aliadelaide said...

Hi Marjo
Sorry there are no pictures in this post! I will add some soon. Also curiously couldn't find/access your details. Hope you are not spam!