Monday, March 10, 2014

How I'm Teaching Geography (Without the Kids Realizing They're Doing School)

I checked my blog (Yay! for blogging aka my only way of keeping records) and it's been almost two years since we've done any "official" geography lessons at our school. Builder Boy had a lot of fun learning about maps with Principal Daddy, but they never actually finished the book.

A few weeks ago I ordered the dvd of Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? - The Complete Series . We are picky about what our kids watch, and we don't have regular tv/cable. So far I haven't noticed anything that has made me regret the decision; and Builder Boy telling me the highest mountain in the world is Mt. Everest and that it's located in Nepal tells me that the educational value is defiantly there. I "reward" them with an episode or two if they get their school work done or need some down/quiet time. Silly kids don't even realize they're learning important stuff!

The boys have been showing a lot of interest in the states, especially since we've moved. Some homeschooling friends recommended The Scrambled States of America and so I purchased the book and the Scrambled States game. (I really don't think the book is enough on it's own.) The boys love the silly story and the game, and can play it on their own when they want to. We play the noncompetitive kid way for now, until they're a bit older and faster at it. Without me even having to make a point of it, they're learning the capitols and the nicknames!

So proud of himself!
The Scrambled States of America game is great for them to learn the individual states and capitol, but it's not so great at teaching the kids where they all fit together. Especially for my kinetic learner. So after a week or so with the game and their knowledge of the states was pretty impressive, I ordered the Melissa & Doug USA Map 51 pcs Floor Puzzle with (most) of the individual states as the pieces. Builder Boy LOVES this puzzle and is putting it together several times a week, all on his own. He is very proud of doing it without any help, and he likes to "review" at the end by showing every.single.state. to an adult and tell them what it is and what he knows about it. He also enjoyed "quizzing" relatives when they were visiting last week. He's having so much fun, and as it's never been called school, he's learning for fun!

If you don't want to deal with a whole big puzzle, and have an extra state map hanging around, I found a great idea on Pinterest for turning that map into a puzzle. You can even add magnets to the back.

Then a few days ago, while Principal Daddy was looking for apps for the new tablet, I got asked "have you ever heard of Stack the States?" Had I! I'd just forgotten about it. We happened to get the app on a day that it was free (right now it's only $0.99!) Watching Builder Boy play made me realize he'd picked up more than I thought he had. I also learned that it's not just rote learning. The app is asking questions about locations, relations to things that haven't been directly taught. And he's applying what he's learned about abbreviations from our grammar lessons to the questions about the state abbreviations, which he's never been taught beyond our state abbreviation for our address. It's also exposing him to the state flags; when he can't guess it right, it tells him the answer, so he's learning even more thought the app!

And just to round it all out with Early Bird's learning style, I found a neat states and capitols song on youtube! We haven't listened to it very many times yet, but we will be listening to it more, as well the the Tour the World song.

I do have blank regional maps that they could label, but that would be school. I'm just going to keep letting them "play" with what we have and call it above and beyond acceptable for Kindergarten and 2nd Grade.

1 comment:

  1. I love it when the children learn but don't realise that they are working! We have a world lotto game which the children love and map puzzles are popular too. Our world map is stuck to the wall with velcro tabs so it gets taken down frequently to look for different places. Once they are a little older, Seterra is fun and free!


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