Over the years, we've approached Geography studies in a few different ways. Sometimes I've taught Geography informally by mapping the locations we come across in our history books or read-alouds. At other times, we've studied geography by following a set curriculum -- either a short study of map skills or a more lengthy look at all the states in the United States. Since we've done quite a bit with United States studies, I was excited to begin a more formal study of world geography by using a package from Memoria Press
Geography I focuses on the Middle East, North Africa, and Europe. Also included is a review of United States geography (focusing on states and capitals).
Why I was impressed with these materials:
The lessons in the student text are clearly written and contain clear maps to allow the student to focus on a single country. I particularly like the way that the materials include both a bit of historical information and a bit about the country today. For instance, when studying Afghanistan, the historical section includes information about how this country was ruled by the Arabs, Genghis Khan, Persians, and then in the late 1900s by Russia. The information about Afghanistan today talks briefly about Osama Bin Ladin and the Taliban.
The student workbook pages are similarly simple and easy to understand. For each country, the student copies the name of the country, the capital, the ancient name, and a fun fact about the country. There is also a map for the student to label both the country in question and the surrounding countries.
Throughout the Geography course, there are plenty of opportunities for review. After every five to ten countries, there are review materials in the student workbook. The Teacher Guide contains a corresponding quiz to use after each review worksheet and final tests to be given after each unit.
Since the student workbook pages were fairly straightforward, I decided to use these materials as part of the schoolwork that Brennan does independently. Unfortunately, I soon found out that the format did not encourage Brennan to put much effort into the lessons. Since the workbook pages only asked for a "fun fact," he often just found any fact on the page and copied onto his work. He would've had to work harder (and therefore learn more) if he were searching through the reading materials to find answers to specific questions.
In the fall, we will also be using the materials covering the United States. Since these materials are intended to be a review, the student workbook primarily consists of blank maps so that the student can practice labeling the states and remembering the capital city of each state. The states are divided into eight different regions, and we'll be reviewing a different region each week. The materials progress in difficulty so that the student learns each state's location on the first time through the regions. By the last time through the units, the student will be able to look at a blank map and write down each state along with its capital.
My bottom line:
We will continue using these Geography materials in the fall. This time, I'll be making it part of the material that he studies with me instead of working on it independently. I think that he'll get more out of the materials if we discuss the country together instead of just having him scribble down the first fact that he finds.
Geography I is intended to be used by students in fourth through eighth grades, ideally after the student has studies U.S. States and Capitals. The complete package costs $48 and includes the Geography I Text, the Geography I Workbook, the Geography I Teacher Guide, the United States Review Student workbook, and the United States Review Teacher materials (teacher key, quizzes, and tests). The materials are also available to purchase separately.
Memoria Press specializes in classical Christian curriculum for homeschoolers. Some of the other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew have been using their elementary Latin program recently. Be sure to click the banner below for both the Geography reviews and the Prima Latina reviews.