One of the things I find a lot of joy in is seeing M learn U.S. Geography. We are not following a boxed curriculum but instead have pieced together a few key things for homeschool geography that is working for us. I find that this approach is one that she is enjoying and because of that, she is absorbing the material deeply and really learning! We keep it simple and fun which is best for all of us.
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All of the things that we are doing could be used for all elementary ages (or teaching multiple ages if that is where you are at). M is in 4th grade this year, so we use a combination of independent study learning and games. For younger kids, the same worksheets are suitable. If you have younger kids, you could just work on finding the answers together. These ideas are great for homeschool geography or to supplement other geography programs for fun.
Here is what we are doing to learn the states:
Individual State Notebook Pages
We are using individual notebooking pages printed from the U.S.A. Activity Pack from the Crafty Classroom. Each day that M does a Geography notebook page she takes out her books, pencils, crayons, and goes to work.
The Resource Books she uses are:
These books are the resources for her to find the answers to fill in her notebook pages. M is in the 4th grade. Because she is older, we have chosen this to be an independent task. She likes the quiet time of just looking at the books and filling in the notebooking pages herself. First, she reads through a bunch of the info they have in the atlas about that state and chooses a fun fact that she finds memorable. She uses this for the facts and notes section of the notebooking. M really enjoys the pictures in these books and loves spending some quiet time really making her notebook pages look beautiful. After we complete all 50 pages, I will laminate them back to back and put them in a binder. For now, though, we are just storing them in the front pocket of the 3-ring binder.
If you have younger kiddos or are teaching multiple ages at the same time, these notebooking pages and the atlases are still really great. I love how they can be used independently or with help from mom or teacher. The notebook pages will reflect your kid’s skills at their grade level, so they can still get out of the task what they need to. I think The Crafty Classroom did an excellent job of making them simple enough for littles but detailed enough for the older elementary too!
We have been using Drawing the USA which is a fantastic book that teaches step-by-step how to draw all of the states and the USA as a whole. M has been working on tracing each page with tracing paper. Each time she does this it only takes a few minutes. It is amazing how just drawing/tracing over these pages is teaching her the placement of the states, where states are located, the abbreviations, and so much more. I just adore how simple and effective this is.
Admittedly, I am pretty new to gameschooling. I am so sad that I didn’t know about it sooner in our homeschool journey. Now that I am on the bandwagon though, I am just so happy with how this has calmed our homeschool days and sparked some new joy into our routines.
We have found some pretty fantastic games that are specifically helping us with U.S.A. geography. M knows she is playing learning games, but she doesn’t care at all because it means quality one on one time with me while the babies nap.
Ticket To Ride is a super fun game that has quickly become a favorite. In this game, you build train routes between major cities in the USA. M is getting super familiar now with those large cities and where they are on the map. These are not capital cities but major cities. Even though we haven’t visited many of the cities in the game yet, she is learning to know what state they are in. Awesome! I hope you get a chance to check out their Amazon reviews. Lots of people are chiming in about how great this game is.
There are lots more Geography games on our wish list. The reviews on these other games look pretty fantastic too!
I think doing a USA Puzzle really does help understand where the states go. Every time M does it she gets faster at it. It has been an important part of our homeschool geography. At first, she used the box to see where the states were located. Now that she has done it a few times, I can see which states she is remembering and which ones she is still working on. The reason we picked this specific puzzle is that the pieces are shaped like the states, and almost all of the states are individual pieces (some of the small eastern states are grouped together). I also really like that the Capitals are included.
Homeschool Geography in Real Life
I love thinking outside the box for all learning experiences. Some other ideas to learn about individual states are to take field trips to a destination that help the kids discover a historical event or a significant place for that state. We live in Michigan and some of the ways we have learned more about our state was to visit the state capitol building and also learn some of our state’s history when we visited Colonial Michilimackinac
What are your thoughts on teaching homeschool geography?
These are the resources we are currently using. Have you found other things that really help your kiddos with U.S. Geography? I’d love to hear your thoughts! Feel free to join the conversation. I also have a Pinterest Board with tons of other USA Geography Ideas including lesson plans and crafts. You can find my Geography Board HERE. While your there, I hope you get a chance to follow all of my Pinterest Boards.
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