2015-2016 School Plans: Geography

Another blog post from little old me about planning our 2015-2016 school year. Up next: world geography.

{Be sure to check out our plans for math and language arts.}

To be perfectly honest, I wasn't really happy with how our geography studies turned out this year. We tried to study both US geography (individual states) and world geography (bigger picture) and it didn't really work. Oh, we read lots of interesting books and visited some fun places (you can read about our trip to Washington, D.C. here). But, in general it seemed a little disappointing . . . I think primarily because we tended to jump all over the place with our ideas. There wasn't any cohesive theme to tie everything together. I would like to change this for next year.

We aren't Textbook People, but we need something to keep us on track . . . a bit of a structured agenda to follow. (We're the kind of people who need to have a plan just so we have something to deviate from.) This year we are going to try using "spine" books for core subjects. By that I mean have one (or two) major book(s) for geography, science, history, etc. that guide our studies. Of course we will supplement with lots of additional books, because it's what we do. But, we're basically going to follow the set up of one primary tome per subject.

{Note: We also considered combining geography, art, and music into country by country unit studies . . . kind of like Little Einsteins for older kids, if you will. However, instead we plan to have separate spine books for art and music.}

After waffling between a few world atlases, I opted for a more broad take, incorporating both physical and human geography. Our spine for geography this year will be Geography: A Visual Encyclopedia, a collaboration of the Smithsonian and DK Publishing.

This book is so pretty. At roughly 300 pages, it's dense for sure, but filled with beautiful pictures on every page. It's divided into eight main sections: planet earth, rocks and minerals, water, climate and weather, life on earth, the human world, maps, and country facts.

My plan is to start the year with section one (planet earth) and see how it goes. I'm estimating we could cover one section a quarter, but it depends on how many rabbit holes we follow along the way. That means it's unlikely we would finish the entire thing in one school year. Which is fine, because I envision this as a reference that will work long-term, as we tend to circle back and cover the same topics in more depth as the Agents grow.

Agent E (4th) and Agent J (2nd) will basically follow the same study, adjusting for grade level as needed. Unlike math and language arts, we do not plan to use a particular workbook for our geography studies (not to say we won't find one later), instead picking and choosing from our favorite go-to websites for free maps and geography printables, including education {dot} comKidzoneTLS Books and Worksheet Works {dot} com.

We will also utilize videos from both Netflix and library DVDs. For example, I know that Netflix carries some titles from the Disney Nature series as well as several National Geographic titles. I was pleasantly surprised at how many educational videos our library has in their collection, including ones about many countries of the world.

Given our love of travel we will likely make a few big and small trips during the school year as well. 

{Note: As I did with Agent J, my intention for Agent A (K) is to focus only on math and reading, so nothing specific to list for him here.}

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