Sometime during the middle school years, each of my children took a world geography course where they did lots of mapping using blank outline maps. They filled in landforms like mountains, rivers, oceans, lakes, forests, grasslands, and deserts. They also filled in political maps with names of countries, capitals, and important rivers.
At the end of the course, the children had to draw their own continents with national political boundaries using a grid. The end-of-the-year map included political boundaries, landforms, and important places. Some of them were works of art, being so precise, neat, and colorful.
When my youngest son came along, I decided to let them do something a little more creative. They would make their final world map, but this time, it would be on the master bathroom wall.
The first decision was to choose the map projection for the wall. They had to choose between the Robinson projection, Mercator projection, and the Universal Transverse Mercator System. They chose the Universal Transverse Mercator System which did make some of the countries look a little bit odd.
Once we choose the projection, Jimmy and his friend carefully measured to make the lines of latitude and longitude drawing lightly with pencils. Later these would be erased.
Using the lines, the outline of continents was drawn first with light pencil so that they could be erased if need be.
Making your own map is a great learning experience!
Set up your budding cartographers, or map makers, with a large blank sheet of white paper, a set of sharpened colored pencils, and an atlas or globe.
Our children make maps when we are doing a unit study on a country. When we study geography, they create world, continent, and country maps. We have created religion maps, time zone maps. resources maps, and religion maps.
What is involved in creating your own map?
Well, you can be as creative as you want to be, but all maps have the following 5 ingredients.
The Title of a Map tells everyone all about the map, its information, and the purpose of map. If you map title is "Business Headquarters in Europe," readers will expect to see Nestle, Aldi, and Bayer headquarters, along with all kinds of other businesses dotting the map.
If your title is "Mountains of the World," then the readers will expect to see a world map and all kinds of mountain ranges likes the alps in Europe and the Andes in South America.
"Lakes in North America" would present the Great Lakes and other large lakes on the continent.
Choose a TItle for your map that lets everyone know what your map will be about.
Every map needs a grid, most often with lines of latitude and longitude. The crisscrossing lines of latitude and longitude create a grid to make it easy to find a location. 40 degrees north and 40 degrees west is a location that can be found on a world map using lines of latitude and longitude. this location is somewhere in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean.
If you were making a map of your bedroom, you might use crisscross lines to create little boxes to give locations for your bed, dresser, toy box, and closet.
Graph paper can make a great grid for maps, as long as you label the lines based on longitude and latitude.
On the title page of What is Your Language by Debra Leventhal a little boy is packing a suitcase and holding his red passport.
He is off to make new friends all around the world.
His first stop is London where he asks some children, "What is your language?" and they respond, "My language is English and this is the way it sounds, "Yes! Yes! Yes! Yes!"
The pattern continues with him traveling to Germany, France, Russian, Inuktitut, Japanese, Chinese, Arabic, Swahili, and Spanish. Children love patterns like we find in this picture book.
When he tells the children he is going home, they all respond, "No!" in their native language.
The final illustration is the little lying under his world flag comforter with his map-of-the-word rug by his bed. Very cute!
Which brings me to the illustrations.
Geography is one of our favorite subjects! We love to explore the world and learn all about other places in the world and how people live there.
Over the years, we have enjoyed many different resources and created our own!
We love living books and literature set in beautiful places. We love to go on adventures through the pages of a book.
We enjoy songs that help us memorize geography facts and games that help us remember country names and capitals.
We have enjoyed living textbooks and created our own curriculum with unit study fun.
We have enjoyed cooking and baking from around the world. Unit studies have been a blast, too!
Finally, we love to read and research so we can learn more about other places.
Here are some of our very favorite geography resources. We hope you will enjoy them, too.
Disclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links from my participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. . I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
Reel Kids Adventures from YWAM
Our family loves this literature series from YWAM: The Reel Kids Adventures. These Christian kids travel the world to make videos and on their way solves mysteries. You can purchase The Amazon Stranger, The Missing Video, The Himalayan Rescue, and Mystery at Smokey Mountain on Amazon. Look for more titles here. You can also buy the whole set of 10 books from YWAM here.
Classic Literature Set in Foreign Countries
Luis lives in Columbia with his wife Diana. He loves to read and buys lots and lots of books.
He has so many books, he has to get rid of some which gives him a great idea.
He will create a mobile library, transported from town to town on the back of a donkey. Luis and his traveling library go from village to village, reading books to children and letting them take books home to read.
Books, biblio in Spanish, and donkey, burro in Spanish led to the book's title, Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter.
Beyond the charming story, this picture book is filled with charming illustrations that children love! The pictures are bright and cheery!
The story of one man's outreach to his fellow Colombians is delightful. Your little lambs will want to hear it again and again.
?fter 4 daughters, I had every book a girl could dream of. But, what about my son? I had to find books he would love.
In my quest to introduce Jimmy to great books full of adventure, along with wholesomeness and Christian inspiration, I found R.M. Ballantyne.
A Christian author on a quest to enchant and inspire children with amazing adventures, Robert Michael Ballantyne books are thrilling. My son loved them and I think yours will, too.
Robert Michael Ballantyne was born in Edinburgh into a family of famous printers and publishers. At 16, he traveled to Canada to serve for six years with the Hudson's Bay Company, returning to to Scotland in 1847. During his time in Canada, he traded with the local Native Americans for furs, which required him to travel by canoe and sleigh to the areas occupied by the modern-day provinces of Manitoba, Ontario, and Quebec. He published his first book in 1848, Hudson's Bay: or Life in the Wilds of North America. He wrote a series of adventure stories for children with a strong Christian message.
Homeschooling Moms, they also contain tons of history, geography, and science information.
In 1866, Robert married Jane Grant. God blessed them with 3 sons and 3 daughters. This father of six has left a legacy of adventure books for boys, though girls will enjoy them, too!
isclosure: This blog post contains affiliate links from my participation in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. . I receive a small commission at no cost to you when you make a purchase using my link.
R.M. Ballantyne spins an exciting tale of shipwreck and survival in The Coral Island. They encounter cannibals and pirates. Filled with biblical truths and Christian principles, this book still has it after nearly a century and a half. You will love this adventure!
What fun to study the USA with Crafty Classroom. We were so excited to download our USA Activity Bundle Pack. The check-out and process of downloading was so easy. The USA Activity Bundle Pack includes 3 e-books: USA State by State Activity Notebook, USA State Bird Art Cards, and USA 50 State Mazes.
As soon as we downloaded our USA Activity Bundle Pack, we immediately got to work printing the first pages we wanted to use. We started with our home state and the states closest to us: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. We downloaded their pages from the USA State by State Activity Notebook. We also printed the mazes from each of those states from USA 50 State Mazes. Finally, we printed mockingbird page from the USA State Bird Art Cards e-book.
This is how we put it all together in a geography lesson. We started with a large USA map and found all three states. We found the capitals: Tallahassee, Montgomery, and Alabama. We found rivers and lakes, cities we'd heard of and cities we hadn't. We spent a lot time exploring the large map.
Next, we read a book on Florida from the library and filled our our Florida notebook page and completed the map. We decided to make our mockingbird (Florida state bird) art card next, coloring in our bird with colored pencils. We decided to make a list of all the places we had visited in Florida and another list of all the places we wanted to visit in Florida. Then we made a citrus fruit salad with Florida grapefruit, oranges, and tangelos. We followed the same format for Georgia (peach cobbler) and Alabama (banana pudding).
I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
Victoria lives in London with her Mum and Dad. Her Mum is Brazilian. Victoria goes to Brazil with her Mom to visit her family.
Mum and Victoria fly into San Paulo and travel to the Parana State where all Mum's relatives live.
Victoria travels from place to place meeting cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, a great-grandmother, and old friends of her Mum. There is great variety in the places she visits from a coffee farm to Itu where everything is REALLY BIG! Victoria sees micro monkeys, parakeets, fishing boats, churches, capybara (giant guinea pigs), casava flour, fruit trees, flowers, and watermelon juice.
The book uses bright, cheery photographs to illustrate Victoria's story of visiting her family in Brazil. I love the photos. They are amazing! They give a realistic picture to readers of family life in Brazil, but they also appeal to children with the bright colors, children, family love, and cute little animals. It really is like looking at someone's scrapbook.
I love to use picture books to teach geography to little ones. Victoria goes to Brazil would be enjoyed by children from ages 4 to 8, but it would also be a fun family read to kick off your geography studies in South America. Children will be introduced to a specific region in Brazil and you can see where it is on the map page. In addition, they will learn about industries, animals, plants, landforms, food, and culture.
I have been using Google Maps quite a bit recently as two of my daughters were house hunting. Each of the MLS listings had a Google Map that allowed me to see where it was located.
I would look at the other houses on the street and often switch to Google Earth to see it in a photograph.
Soon I would find myself on nearby streets exploring and discovering streets, houses, and neighborhoods I never knew existed.
It got me thinking.
I realized that Google Maps would be a great way to explore the neighborhood and the world.
Here are some ideas to get you started and I'm sure you can come up with many more.
Explore Your Neighborhood
After exploring other neighborhoods, I realized what fun it would be to explore our own neighborhood. You simply type in your address to locate your house.
It's so funny to see your house on Google Earth. One time we had left some toys in the yard and could see them in the photo.
Once you see your home, you simply expand outward, exploring your street, streets nearby, and soon you will discover streets, stores, and large homes you never knew existed. This is super fun for the adventurous child. Now, of course, when you are finished, you have to get in the car and go see things in person.
We found a beautiful street that looked like a dirt driveway from the main road, but it was dotted with lovely old historic homes. We had so much fun seeing them and imaging who lived in them now and who had lived in them long ago.
Visit Dream Vacation Cities
Pike's Peak is one tall mountain!
My daughter Julianna was taking a semester off work to attend Ellerslie, a Bible college out in Colorado. I decided to fly out with her a few days early so we could see a little of Colorado.
"Let's go to Pike's Peak!" she suggested.
"Hiking?" I asked, shuddering inside. People do hike up and down Pike's Peak, you know.
"No, not hiking," she laughed. "They have a little railroad."
Little railroad, as in tiny railroad, tiny tracks, and big tall mountain?
I was nervous, so I went online to research and discovered:
In Geography Co-op this year, I wanted the children to make beautiful maps of each continent so that they would look nice enough to hang on the wall.
"Well, I better die to that dream," I told myself.
I delegated the mapping portion of geography co-op to my friend Pattie.
Pattie took my instructions to heart and in order to make the beautiful maps happen, she started a contest, paying the winner in each age group a dollar.
Hey, a little free-market competition couldn't hurt.
The maps these children produced were gorgeous. Now, I don't know if they still would have been without the competition, but I was blown away!
Why does mapping matter anyway?
Benefits of Mapping
We kicked off our Homeschool Geography Co-op with a Plane Ride because our goal is to Travel Around The World through reading, crafts, mapping, and hands-on learning fun this year. Did I mention food and feasting?
This month, we were studying Europe, so we had another Geography Feast using Travel God's World Cookbook.
Each family made a dish from a country in Europe.
I made EZ Paella from Spain. Pattie made Swedish Cabbage Pudding (it also has ground beef and potatoes, too), Molly made Bratwurst and Sauerkraut from Germany, and Leanne made Fruit Crumble from England.
We are studying Africa this month in our homeschool geography co-op, so we kicked the month off with a feast from Africa.
We each chose a dish from a different African country and had a blast trying some very different foods.
"What are you doing?" my daughter Jenny Rose asked me as I stirred a large glob of peanut butter into a pan of soup stock and half-n-half.
I laughed. "I'm making peanut butter soup."
She scrunched up her nose and made a face.
"Do you want to try some?"
"Um, um, I'm not sure," she admitted.
Along with the peanut butter soup from South Sudan, I made Bobotie from South Africa.
What is Bobotie? Well, it's almost like a meatloaf with almonds, dried apricots, and raisins in it. Very unique, yet delicious.
In fact, most of the food we ate was unusual for us. The combinations were unique. It was an adventure!
Jeff, his sister, and their friends head to Nepal to get some footage from the cold mountainous Asian country. After a break-in at their host's apartment, the kids become involved in a dangerous journey along the cold Himalayan trails to rescue a child from being sold into slavery. Yes, that does happen in other nations.
Along the way, the teens share their faith while enduring exhaustion, sickness, injury, bitter cold, and being chased by some scary guys. You will love this adventure!
And if you are studying geography, your children will learn something about Asia in general and Nepal in particular, as well Christianity in Nepal. We loved this book!
Trying to keep up with my children's appetite for books and looking for some historical fiction set in Asia while we were studying geography led me to the Reel Kids Adventure series by Dave Gustaveson, published by YMAM Publishing.