Monday, September 28, 2009

Our new geography program

OK so it's taken me an entire month to find time to decide exactly what and how I wanted to cover geography. I decided to switch to notebooking pages rather than lapbooks this time because they'll give me more flexibility over time. The pages are designed to meet the following goals.

1. To be able to identify and locate a given country on a map.
2. To practice using an atlases to look up information.
3. To learn to read topical maps to obtain information.
4. To improve their mapping skills.
5. To have some fun as well.

Here's a look at one of our blank starting pages.
My basic plan for each of the pages is as follows with the corresponding goal parentheses:

1. Add a flag sticker to the upper left corner under the country name. (5)
2. Find and color in the country on the regional map in the upper right corner. (1)
3. On the large scale map for both girls:
- Label the countries/bodies of water bordering the current country. (2,4)
- Mark and label the capital. (2,4)
4. On the large scale map just for Jessie:
- Mark and label major cities (2,4)
- Draw and label major geographic features (bodies of water, rivers, mountains, etc.) (2,4)
5. To complete the information in the bottom left hand corner using the maps I am providing. (1) All the information came from the back of National Geographic World Atlas for Students, 3rd edition. The population data is as of mid 2007. In the case of languages, I chose to only list the first 3 for any countries that had several.

6. To complete the information in the bottom center by using a topical maps and map keys in the atlases.(2,3)

The atlases we are using are from the library. I have the National Geographic Student Atlas of the World 3rd edition for Violet and the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers 3rd edition for Jessie to use. The former has only continent maps while the latter is broken down by region within each countinent for more detail. I liked the map of dominant religions better in the first one because it had the political boundaries between countries and is keyed to show how dominant the religion is. It divided the economies into agriculture, industrial, etc. so we'll be using the young explorers maps for economies. The regional maps have symbols to show the different types of economies (ie. cattle, corn, cotton, mining, oilt, manufacturing) which I think are easier to understand. My plan is to ask Violet to simply choose any 3 and list them and to require Jessie to determine the 3 most common based on the number of map symbols in each country.

For the added practice and fun (5) this year, I will also be purchasing Africa and the Middle East Geopuzzle. We'll use the free online mapping games from Sheppard software for the Middle East and Africa. We'll continue with the corresponding geopuzzles and games over the next couple of years. I also have a blank laminated world map to put up on the wall for reviewing. I'm sure we'll make up some games to play with it, but I haven't thought that far. (If you have any game ideas or links to ideas, please share them in the comments.)

I'm leaning towards doing 2 pages a week on science days since we generally don't need 45 minutes for science activities. That will let us take a few weeks off for review now and then. I'm guessing that once the get the hang of what they are supposed to do, it will take Violet 5-10 minutes per page and Jessie 10-12 minutes depending on the geographic features she needs to draw.

At the end of each unit, I'm planning to take the information the girl's have collected and have them make their own topical maps on population density and religion. We may pick one or two languages to map as well.

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