Let's Go Geography is homeschool geography curriculum that guides elementary aged students through an exploration of a new country each week. I looked through several lessons before signing up and wrongly assumed that I could print out the materials to pack in the school binder Lauren takes with her on appointment days.
When I really dug into the curriculum, I realized that there is both a print and an online component to the program. For instance, the first unit (the Northeast United States) includes a link to a map to color and label, a link to hear the national anthem, and several links to YouTube videos. Some of the videos offer a visual tour of the area, while others explore a specific topic such as maple syrup production in Vermont. Obviously some of those activities can be printed ahead of time, but some of them need to be done where we have an internet connection (and uninterrupted time to watch videos).
I decided to regroup and plan to do geography on a day when we'd be at home. One of the next units was about Canada. Lauren wasn't particularly interested in learning about another country simply for the sake of learning about a new place. I told her about how Tim works with several members of the Canadian military, and she agreed to dig into the Let's Go Geography materials about Canada. One particularly interesting part of that study was hearing the Canadian national anthem because I told her that it would be sung along with the Star Spangled Banner at Tim's retirement ceremony this week. (Since it's a joint command with both American and Canadian troops, they do both national anthems.)
Unfortunately, Lauren's interest began to wane after doing the map, coloring the flag, and listening to O Canada on a YouTube video. Before I knew it, she had followed a link to suggested videos and was watching a preschool video of "The Duck Song." Lesson learned: make sure to hover close by when I tell Lauren to get on YouTube to do some of her schoolwork.
I then learned a second important lesson about how Lauren learns best. Most of the materials we're using this year have a very distinct start and end point. For instance, "you're finished with math for today when you answer the last problem on this page." Apparently, Lauren likes knowing exactly how much is left to do before she is done. The Let's Go Geography gave her a variety of videos to explore and then an open-ended note booking sheet. Even though the videos weren't long, she complained because she couldn't immediately see how much was left. Similarly, the lack of structure on the note booking page left her asking me "how much do I have to write." I don't think she was trying to get away with doing as little work as possible, she just didn't quite know what to do.
As a parent and teacher, I really appreciate the wealth of information Let's Go Geography provides for each country. Unfortunately, all this information would be better suited for a child that wanted to explore a new country instead of simply finishing the assignment.
Let's Go Geography is set-up for students to study a new country each week. Younger students may want to follow the suggestions for dividing the study amongst five days. Lauren spent both an hour on one day doing the study activities for each country (and opted not to do the art projects). After studying ten new countries, one week is spent on review activities such as labeling a blank map, matching flags with their countries, identifying pictures, etc. Although the program is set-up to go in a specific order, a one-year membership gave us access to all the countries so that we could skip around if we wished.
Even though I cannot use Let's Go Geography for our on-the-go days, I still intend to add it to Lauren's schoolwork when we are at home. One of the American Heritage Girls badges (World Heritage) asks her to study three countries, and these materials will make it easy for her to finish that requirement. She's already finished Canada, maybe we'll do Belize this week.