World geography is one of those subjects that is hit or miss. Families seem to either love it and do it all the time, or entirely skip over it! In our home, we love it and we want you to as well!
Some might argue that Miss Mason (for those of you who ascribe to her philosophy) didn't incorporate World Geography until Form 2 and beyond, and while this is true in many ways, it isn't the whole story.
"for educative purposes, the child must learn such geography, and in such a way, that his mind shall thereby be stored with ideas, his imagination with images…”
-Miss Mason, vol.1
From this quote, we can gather Miss Mason taught geography using these premises:
1. That the mind must be nourished with living ideas.
2. That the imagination must be furnished with pictures.
While world travel would be nice, it isn't attainable for all of our families, so how do we give our children these pictures? How to we spark their imagination and help them "travel the world"? If you have been here a minute, you know my answer is books!
My favorite books to have on hand for general world geography studies in Forms 1 and 2 (ages 6-12 years) are:
Hungry Planet: What the World Eats by Peter Menzel
Material World: A Global Family Portrait by Peter Menzel
Disclosure: Some of the links in this post are affiliate links. This means that, at zero cost to you, I will earn an affiliate commission if you click through the link and finalize a purchase.
Here is the good part.
You don't need special books. At least not if you don't want them. How about we simply keep a globe and atlas or world map on hand with the two books I mention above and enjoy our journey as it comes to us?
Think about this, in one week, my boys and I have found the following countries on a map, used the books referenced above, and prayed specifically for each country, simply because these countries were mentioned in our typical readings (the Bible, chapter books, magazines, etc.):
So how does it work?
World Geography studies are truly so easy to incorporate. Let's say we are reading about our composer and they mention her childhood was spent in Rome. Well, what frame of reference does my child have for this? None. They live in the USA, know the mountains that are their home. I must provide them some ideas, some picture to help their imagination embrace where our composer lived as a girl. So first, I ask my children if they know where Rome is.
Often I get a yes and they indicate somewhere absurd and we giggle together as I have them find the USA (what they know) and then "travel across the Atlantic Ocean and find the boot shaped peninsula with Italy written on it". Notice my language, I am using geography terms, guiding them to envision traveling the ocean. I often ask how they would travel to this new place (airplane, train, boat, etc.).
Once we arrive in Italy, I help them find Rome. Then I get out our reference books, we find out what a modern family might eat and how they might live, and often we learn to pray for them using one or more of these resources:
This site has a searchable countries list with videos and prayer points for each country.
This site also has a searchable countries list with great details, demographics, etc.
Window on the World, by Molly Wall
This is our favorite extra book to have on hand with vivid pictures, lots of demographic details, short stories from a child living in the country, as well as specific prayer points.
All of this may take 10 minutes, or it may take 20. Either way, we get our world geography lessons in without any additional planning on my part. It is naturally a part of our learning in an engaging and conversational way that keeps my children interested and constantly considering new places and ideas.
A couple additional ideas and resources.
Over the years, we have had so much fun using a variety of resources to engage our minds and help us have wonderful conversations as we learn about world geography. Here are a few additional resources we have used and loved.
Universal Yums This is a subscription box we enjoyed for over a year. Once a month we pulled out books on the country of our snack box, pulled up traditional music from the country, and used our books to enjoy pictures and details while we tried snacks from that nation.
On Mission magazine from Gentle Classical Press This magazine is created by Erin, a homeschool mama with a passion to share her talents with us! These are magazines we return to over and again in our studies. Included in them are breathtaking graphics and imagery of the country, stories, missionary stories, additional book recommendations, details about their foods, customs, etc. It is a rich resource I highly encourage any homeschool family to consider having in their home.
World geography is easy to implement without additional lesson plans, are you ready to enjoy it with your kids now?
Thanks for the ideas!