As we started our HomesCool journey 13 years ago, I realized I had very limited knowledge in Geography. It was never taken as a formal subject in elementary, high school or college. I remember only having a keen interest on it when we would travel.
I was then just as excited and interested as my preschool students to learn about Geography, stare at maps, spin the globe, and sing songs about continents and various regions. I guess, it was further fueled by having three boys in our HomesCool. For some reason, boys, and I can say that for our three boys, gravitate more to maps and to Geography. If this difference in appreciation of Geography between genders interest you, kindly read further, “Why Do Boys Do Better Than Girls in the “Geo Bee”?”
After realizing how important it was to have a good grasp of geography for deeper appreciation of history, events, culture, etc, I really wondered why this was never seriously taught to me in grade school or even high school. I wondered why, instead of having to memorize all the provinces of the Philippines and their capitals, why didn’t we learn to be very familiar with our own geography? My husband, however, has a better grasp of this subject despite the lack of formal lessons in formal schooling. This is because he just loved to look at maps and study them during his free time.
I hope to tackle this topic in 2 parts(haha, it may even stretch to 3!). I just can’t jump into sharing with you how we made maps because kids have to see the value in Geography before they can “create or recreate” maps. They need to know the deeper reason of why they are studying this subject. For optimal learning, they need to have a bond with the map they are working on. That only happens when there is more to the map than just lines, grids and boundaries. They should have stories, exciting stories. They should introduce people, their culture and way of life.
Oh, we’ve had so much fun tracking the journey of Bible greats like Moses and the Israelites, explorers like Magellan and Christopher Columbus, missionaries such as Gladys Aylward, of vehicles like ship of Dr. Doolittle , or the hot air balloon in Around the World in 80 Days. We’ve tried to figure out where the Vikings and the first North American settlers passed! One exciting map was from the Metropolitan Museum of New York, which we used alongside a reader entitled, “From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”
Tied with their study on Social Studies, the Earth and its Grid, we had this simple activity from a Geography for kids activity book. It was to me the clearest way to shop how a map and the globe are one and the same, just different representations of the same thing.
The Geography Songs kit tunes were catchy, and our kids loved them (though some information in our older version needed to be updated). Kids were truly able to memorize names of countries of the world arranged in regions.
Add to this, we purchased a good world map to display, an atlas that they could hold and read like a book, and a globe to spin around! Through the years, and thankfully, these have gotten worn out and had to be replaced. It there was a chance, we also got some puzzles of the Philippines and the world.
As we incorporated Read-A-Louds (good story or chapter books you read to the children) and their own Readers (assigned reading material for the student) and tackled World History twice a week, it became a habit to always imagine the setting of where the story is taking place. We eventually bring out the atlas, maps or globe (now you can do Google Earth/ Maps!) and check. Some readers even provide their own, more specific (street) maps like this one from Oliver Twist.
Map reading and making became a regular habit for us. I love these kinds of projects because they’re done in stages. This helps older children learn proper planning, patience and perseverance in completing a project. The joy in accomplishing such a project is also unmatched, as seen on the faces in the photo below. I will just share some of the Simpao HomesCool maps through the years and, in a future post, I will specifically take you through the steps on how to do them too 🙂 Hope this excites you to watch out for Part 2.
Deuteronomy 10:11 “Go,” the LORD said to me, “and lead the people on their way, so that they may enter and possess the land I swore to their ancestors to give them.” NIV