Geography has always been one of those subjects that eluded my interest during my school days. I LOVED (and still do love) history, but mapping out countries and memorizing capitals and facts was never something that really excited me. And now, as I homeschool my own children, I find it difficult to find it exciting to include geography studies in our week.
It really does tie in so very much with history though, so I know it is a real shame and disservice to my kids to write it off altogether, so I went in pursuit of something that would work for us.
Since we live in Canada, I started last year with Canadian geography studies – using online printables and learning a bit each week about the provinces, borders, capitals, important facts, etc. it was VERY basic, and just enough to keep their attention for half an hour, give or take, once a week.
But this year I knew I would need to step it up a bit more, what with a 4th and 2nd grader on my hands, geography skills are sort of becoming essential. Though they don’t need to know how to find latitude and longitude (yet, eek!), it is important for them to know about the world around them, and their place in it.
Not having a lot of extra time to pour into a geography program, I set out to develop something interesting and fun with what we already had available to us.
Enter the Children’s Atlas of God’s World from Master Books. This is a FANTASTIC book, chuck full of beautiful pictures and information on over 20 countries, with a great Christian perspective spread throughout. It has everything you need to get an overview of the countries whereabouts, interesting facts, capital cities and stats, etc.
More important than learning the placement of countries in the world is learning about how God is at work in those countries, through the natives of the land and people he has sent there. Over the summer we started using Focus on the Family’s Around the World in 60 Days – we never finished it, but I’m glad we didn’t, because now we can draw the countries into our geography studies, and couple missions with it.
We have also been using Kids of Courage from Voice of the Martyrs online to get current information on missionaries and situations in various countries, for ways that we can pray and support them. This is the most important of all, and where my heart really is in studying geography. If I can relay to my children how vital a part we play in missions, even if we can’t (at this point in time) GO somewhere, we can support others who do financially, but also prayerfully.
So what does a geography with missions lesson look like exactly?
We start by reading about the country in the Children’s Atlas, and finding it on every map in our home.
While I’m reading the kids will colour a picture, or do our world map puzzle.
As time permits, on the same day we will read up on any relevant information from Around the World, fill out the kids’ passports, and do a suggested activity, or make up our own (there are TONS of ideas out there for crafts, games, art, etc.).
For example, this week we finished up Japan, so our friend, Miss Amanda, took some time to teach us how to do origami!
During the week we pray for missionaries working in that country, and use Kids of Courage to learn more about the people groups, culture and situations. Our church also has missionaries we support that we receive updates on, as well as church plants around the world we pray for. I love how involved we can be in global missions just from our own living room or kitchen table!
To end the week, if possible, we try to recreate a meal from that country, to make things extra fun and relatable.
My hope in teaching geography along with missions in this way so to help nurture in my children a desire to be involved in missions however they can, right where they are, and as God calls them to, with a passion for learning about the world that God has created.
I’m sure as time goes on we’ll delve much deeper into more technical geographic material, but for the time being, I am quite happy to see my children (and me :D) excited about learning this way!
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