Friday, July 30, 2010

Geography Mania

If you haven't noticed this house of mine loves history and anything to do with history.  This of course includes multiple subjects which we are happy to pursue because it somehow involves history.  One of those subjects is geography.

First let me say in my house we don't have "school time."  (We have personal preparation time, work time, free time, meal time, and family time and that's about it). We learn mostly by living.  Of course that means that I have had to be creative at times in order to expose my children to things I find important. 

Now back to geography.  Geography just comes along for the ride as we learn about other topics.  We may be reading a book about World War II and as we talk about all the countries involved in the conflict we will simply look at a map/globw and familiarize ourself with the area.  Then we will go back to the story.  Pretty simple.

Another way we learn geography in our family is that we have a world map on the kitchen table with vinyl on top of it.  We have had this up since the spring and we have continued to love it.  Since there is a heavy duty vinyl covering over the top it is easy to clean up after meal times.  (The vinyl can be found in any major fabric store).  My map was free and the vinyl was less than $15 if I remember correctly.

We have many meal time discussions when Mr. Patriot is home and these mostly involve world affairs, government and history.  (Can you see why he is running for a political office?)  Having a map right at our finger tips is very helpful during these meal time conversations.  We use it a lot.

Our children also regularly ask to have "map quizzes."  They think this is the most fun game every made.  (It's easy of course to think that when you have very few toys to distract you. Thank you Headgates).  We usually play this game during lunch time, but it is also common to have them schedule a quiz during free time.  How to play? Very simple.  I ask them questions about everything and anything that can be found on a map or that has to do with a map.  I usually give a question to a child and then move on to the next one while they look or decide on their answer.  When someone answers their question I will then give them another question.  All questions are for the level of each child.

Easier questions include: Point out the 7 continents. Where is the compass rose? Find Canada, Russia, China (big countries).
Medium questions include: Where is Iraq, Chili, Italy....?, Where is the Middle East, Mediterranean Sea, Lake Superior....?
Harder questions might be: Where is the Straight of Gibraltar? What is the capital of Turkey? What mountains separate Spain and France? Where is the head of the Nile River? What is the approximate population of the capital city of Brazil? (Use the legend).
Advanced questions that have been asked include: Where did WWI start? Point out the communist countries of the world. What islands are included when you say, "Micronesia?" Explain and show the migration patterns of your ancestors on dad's side?

Our kids have loved learning geography and have begged to do this over and over.  I rarely bring up playing "map quiz," it is something they choose.  It requires no preparation on my part.  I don't have to pay lots of money for all sorts of board games to try to make it "fun" for them to learn geography (which I find painful).  Absolutely no painful workbooks required.  I think it's safe to say since they can answer those kinds of questions than they are doing just fine in geography.

If you have a husband who would rather not be inundated with "school" things 24 hours a day I would suggest placing a table cloth over your table at dinner or when company comes.  We've never done this however.  Our company is intrigued by it all and usually ends up playing and discussing right a long with us.


crazy4boys said...

Great idea to put a tablecloth on top of the vinyl! My husband has asked that at least one or two rooms of the house not look like a "schoolroom". I have a lot of stuff in the living room, but I've disguised it so it doesn't look disorganized or "schoolish". I've wanted to do the map thing, but he didn't want the dining room to look schoolish. I'll talk with him about the tablecloth.

Christy said...

This sounds like so much fun! I am impressed with the questions that you ask your children. I recently bought a new map since the old one got ripped by the baby. Maybe instead of hanging on the wall I'll put it on the table.

Shanny said...

We used to have a map on the wall in our dining area and it really did generate so much natural learning. We would even discuss things like how it was dark on one side of the world while it was day time on the other side, timezone differences etc. There was so much learning it was incredible! Who knew a map could teach so much! LOL

We have just pulled out a globe the last few years but I think it would be beneficial for us to get a map again that is located in the middle of the family space for a while. I'm going to do exactly what you have done with the vinyl table cloth!

Thanks! :-)

Dana ♥ said...

We have huge maps our wall and a globe that we enjoy. That's a good idea to put it on the table.

We also read our way through history. That's why my throat is sore and scratchy some days. They can never get enough. ☺

Tristan said...

I agree, geography just makes more sense (and means more to the kids) when it comes out of your histroy and other studies! Fun.

Angela said...

I love that idea!

Jenp8 said...

I was wondering where to hang the map so it was accessible during school time! I've always hated that vinyl though (I grew up with it "protecting" the table) - but maybe I can live with it for a good cause!