Category Archives: Geography

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Geography: Senegal

This year we’ve been studying geography in two week sections using books, maps, and online resources – keeping in mind that the primary reason for studying geography is to spread the news about Jesus.

We recently focused on Senegal where the first task was to find the country on the map. This one was harder than others we’ve recently done, but once given the hints that it is in the Eastern Hemisphere and has a coast on the Atlantic Ocean, they zeroed in on it.

 

Challenges for Prayer

We start our study by visiting the Operation World page for Senegal to find out some specific prayers for the area.

Guidebook

There are not many guidebooks out there for Senegal, so we used the Lonely Planet’s Guide to Senegal and The Gambia. It doesn’t have a lot of pictures, but the language is very rich and descriptive.

Folk Tale

Mother Crocodile is not only a great original story with a cautionary tale – but you also find out (briefly) about some of the animals that would live in Senegal as well.

Science/Animals

The Manatee Scientists is kind of reaching – I’ll admit it – but, there really aren’t a lot of books out there about the animals of Senegal. The book is divided between Florida and West Africa. Important things to know about this book: It manages to slip evolution in there (I know, it’s everywhere – so frustrating!), and I tread lightly when Westerners start trying to dictate what people can and cannot kill for food. Given that in our area of the world, food is much easier to come by, I would never try to teach my children that it’s wrong for someone in Senegal to kill a Manatee to feed his family.

We’re also going to watch a program on TV called Be the Creature. Are you familiar with the Kratt brothers from Zaboomafoo? They also do this series. If you have Netflix, they have the DVD in their library. Warning: As usual with these types of shows, they do have references to evolution – tying the manatee and elephant together. Use your own judgement – my kids yell “Lies!” at the TV whenever these types of things are said.

There is also a Manatee Song on Youtube (for the younger crowd) and even a tutorial on how to draw a cartoon Manatee.

Printables

Enchanted Learning has multiple levels of outline map activities as well as a flag of Senegal.

What are some of your family’s favorite methods to study Geography? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.

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Making Geography Easy

I’ve always heard that Homeschooled Kids always do well in Geography Bees and were little geography whizzes but it always seemed overwhelming to teach the kids the countries.  I felt it would take too long and where oh where to begin?!?

This year I decided to give it a try – in large part because I found two programs that made me think it was possible.  But, still the questions was where to start – and then….epiphany!  I’d use our history studies as a guide!  So, that meant Europe first and then North America (I haven’t chosen the rest of the order yet…)

Monkey and Rex are very close to knowing all of the countries of Europe.  Each week, they work on one section of countries using Sheppard Software Geography Games.  And, luckily they have already broken the continent up into bite sized chunks.

And, just to make sure that they are actually learning the locations, I used D-Maps to create a map activity for each chunk.  (Both of them were a little freaked out the first week that there were no country outline lines on the maps but after I explained that was on purpose, it hasn’t been a problem again…)  Below are the maps that I created for Europe.

YOUR TURN: What are your favorite ways to teach country locations?


Geography for Jesus

Today I asked my kids, “What is the real purpose of studying Geography?”  It took a little bit of drawing it out of them, but the 12yo did answer “in order to spread the Gospel.”  Which is exactly our focus as we study Geography.  They are learning countries in general and in association with history, but for the real meat of Geography this year, we are taking a country and studying it closely for 2 weeks.  The countries have been chosen to go along with our history so that they are in some context.

In History, we are studying Prince Henry the Navigator and how they went out exploring, but that the first stop was Morocco.  So, Morocco is the country that we’ve chosen for the next two weeks.  As Charlotte Mason suggested, we are using a Travel Guide to learn more about the country.  And, she is absolutely right that Travel Guides make the country so much more interesting!  Some of them use such wonderful vivid language that you really do feel like you are experiencing the place.

I don’t know about you, but we don’t really get excited reading about the major exports of a country or what the weather is like there (well, maybe a little bit on the weather one…) which seems to be the information that most Children’s Books feel that it is most important to impart.  I do however disagree with Ms Mason in that I think that books with pictures are a wonderful way to really get to know the beauty of a nation.  With the marvelous photography we have available to us, why wouldn’t you use it to make a place more real while being half a world away?

The trick is that you have to find an interesting travel guide.  I went to a local bookstore, took a seat in the aisle, and went through all kinds of different brands of guides to find the most interesting to read.  Some of the most famous names are just too “go here and see that – go there and see this” to be interesting to the person not actually touring the area.  But, I did find several Guides that did fit the criteria.  My favorite was the Insight Guides and a close second was the Lonely Planet Guides.   For Morocco, I decided to use the Insight Guide, but for future units, it may be another so that I can always try to choose the one that is more interesting for each individual country.

I happened across a wonderful website that describes the barriers of spreading the Gospel in each nation around the world.  They also show what religions are present in the nation and have links to the Joshua Project which shows the different people groups in each nation.  Operation World is great because we are able to find out specific prayer requests that we can focus on during the geography unit.  Otherwise, if it’s too general, it’s hard to really have it feel real.

To tie it all up, we are reading A Bachelor and the Bean: A Jewish Moroccan Folk Tale and Into Wild Morocco (did you know that there are many types of animals that ONLY exist in Morocco and no where else?)  I think that we’ll try to do this for each unit – have a book with a folk tale and hopefully one on the animals.  We’re doing this in depth study 2 times a week, so hopefully they won’t tire of the country but will get enough information to have a real glimpse of the country. 

My son is already talking about that we should be missionaries to Morocco, so I have high hopes for this method but I hope he continues to accept the answer that we will go if that is the plan that God has for us.