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Geography is an important subject to incorporate into weekly lessons outside of a history curriculum. Not only does it teach children where places are, which is what many of us associate the subject with, but it can really connect a child to the world! Teaching geography can bring the places, people, lifestyles, and cultures from around the world to life. Along with this, children get to explore the beautiful geological wonders of the world, the many different environments begin to make sense, and historical civilizations become easier to understand.
Dr. Seuss said it best after all…
But who said that you needed a curriculum to teach Geography?
For awhile, our family tried a few geography curriculum. However, nothing ever seemed to please everyone and after awhile, this was one area that I did not want to keep throwing money at. I didn’t feel like it was a subject in which I could afford to use the normal “curriculum trial and error” method. So we decided to skip the premade curriculum for geography all together. The kids were excited as well as I, because now we could travel the world on our own time and in our own way.
Sure, there would be a little more research for me to put in, but isn’t that what makes homeschooling our children the best? As parents, isn’t the ability to design how and what we teach to our children part of what we wanted to gain from this journey ? I know that is part of the reason I began our family’s homeschool journey- to really be the educator as well as learning right along side them (because let’s face it, half of what they are learning I am relearning too).
I enjoy geography as a beginning ground for tossing out curriculum because it is easy to get creative and explore the map. You and your children get roam every inch of it together. You can circle the globe as many times as you desire and choose the path of your journey together. It really gets the children involved in exploring the world in the ways that they want to.
So how can you do this?
The way we started our new no-curriculum geography journey was by together deciding on where we were going to start our travels and explore one country per month. We then purchased a blank map so that we can color in the countries as we journey. As you can see, we are off to a slow start since we have just recently begun this activity ourselves, but the kids are already enjoying this and growing more than textbooks and workbooks ever allowed them before.
We also made sure that we placed ourselves on the globe so that we could see ourselves around the world in more than one way.
Notebooking pages has provided us the perfect resource for creating personal information packets to help organize our research and adventures. I love these, and use so many of these worksheets for EVERY SUBJECT with my kids that we purchased the lifetime membership two years ago. It has been one of the best homeschool investments that I have made so far, but they do offer many free resources and pages as well.
As I mentioned, studying geography this way does take some research on my end. I begin by creating notes in Microsoft Word for topics that I want us all to learn. My younger boys participate in this part of the activity while my older girls are required to complete their notebooking pages through their own research and then present their findings and completed work at the end of the month. (I just love how each child finds different, unique things about each country to share with us all!)
Included in this we draw pictures of animals and landmarks, we watch Youtube videos or movies when we can find them, visit the library for stories and research to enhance our journey, and find recipes to sample food from all around the world. We even try to incorporate hands-on activities for every country. For example, we are about to start exploring Italy and so we will be creating our own edible Leaning Tower of Pisa.
My absolute favorite tool to incorporate into our geography studies makes things even more life-like. Thanks to the Google Expeditions app, we really get to explore the world! The kids have been enjoying the realistic, virtual reality sights on our phone without the need for any virtual reality set. It even has educational information about each sight. Google outdid themselves with this app and as they really have allowed homeschool families to bring our lessons to life!
But recently… it has gotten better!
I recently made a trip to Walmart and we walked across this ONN Virtual Reality Headset. The sign read $3! What!?
So we said why not give it a try and see what this thing does. It is actually pretty cool and pairs perfect with Google Expeditions. As a homeschool family on a tight budget, we don’t often have much extra to splurge on extras and this is one thing I am thankful to come across. It has allowed me to use our phone in an even better way with this educational app in our geography lessons! And I thought the expeditions app looked realistic before… I was completely wrong!
Now for $3 don’t expect more than a plastic headset. You do have to remove the phone in order to change the screen since there is no remote. But for a $3 investment, it made the kids fall in love with geography even more! I even went back for a few more!
As you can see, you don’t need a curriculum to teach geography…
And without one you can tailor your adventures the way that you and your kids want to as well as teach older children how to conduct thorough research on their own. As they say… the sky is the limit (no really, it is). And as time goes on, you will find exactly what activities work and discover new things to incorporate!