homeschool geography
History and Geography

How I’m Teaching Elementary Geography

Geography can be such a delightful and rich subject to teach in homeschool. It can also be overwhelming if you try to do all the things! When I was planning out what I wanted to do for geography in the elementary years, I knew there were three requirements that my plan had to meet:

  1. It had to be simple.
  2. It had to be relaxed, with lots of time to linger on each continent.
  3. It had to be literature-based.

I decided we would take our time exploring one continent each semester, beginning with Africa this fall. I also decided to contain the majority of our geography learning during our bedtime basket–a relaxing and peaceful part of our homeschool day during which we read from a variety of books on a variety of topics just before bed. And, finally, I decided to keep my formula simple and hassle-free: read books, learn countries on the map, learn a few words in a foreign language, and the add occasional sprinkles when inspiration strikes.

Here is how I plan out a relaxed unit study for a continent, to be completed over one semester:

Step 1: Books

Choose enough books to read for 10 minutes, 3 to 5 nights per week during bedtime basket. Collect them from used bookstores, library, Amazon, etc. Clear a space on a shelf to house them all together for easy access. Keep the current book in the bedtime basket.

Step 2: Foreign Languages

Choose 1 – 2 foreign languages spoken on the continent. Learn how to count and say a few words and simple phrases. Teach and review after bedtime basket book most nights of the week.

Step 3: Maps

Find a small laminated map of the continent to use during bedtime basket. Whenever we read a story, we’ll find the location of the story on the map. We will learn 2 – 3 new countries on the map each week, and review all the ones we know 1 – 2 times per week. (We do this simply by pointing to them on the map.)

Extras: Videos, Music, Arts, and Cooking

A couple of times during the semester, we’ll spend a day watching videos, listening to music and looking at art made by the people that live on that continent, and cooking recipes from that continent. No pressure or stress here-just keep it relaxed and fun!

If you’d like to see how I’m applying this plan to our current unit on Africa, please check out the video below:

 

Here are the books we’re using for our Africa unit:

Africa is Not a Country by Margy Burns Knight

Anna Hibiscus by Atinuke

The Adventures of Spider: West African Folktales by Joyce Cooper Arkhurst

Beatrice’s Goat by Paige McBrier

Jambo Means Hello: Swahili Alphabet Book by Muriel Feelings

Moja Means One: Swahili Counting Book by Muriel Feelings

A is for Africa by Ifeoma Onyefulu 

One Big Family: Sharing Life in an African Village by Ifeoma Onyefulu

Why the Sky is Far Away: A Nigerian Folktale by Mary-Joan Gerson

Big Boy by Tololwa M. Mollel 

Chinye: A West African Folk Tale by Obi Onyefulu

Wangari’s Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa by Jeanette Winter

Honey…Honey…Lion! by Jan Brett

Bongani’s Day: From Dawn to Dusk in a South African City by Gisele Wulfsohn

Brothers in Hope: The Story of the Lost Boys of Sudan by Mary Williams and R. Gregory Christie

 

What are you using to teach geography in your homeschool? Please share in the comments!

 

 

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