Monday, January 28, 2008

Where in the world?

From about 8:00 each morning until dinner time each night my time is filled with teaching my children. I love this part of my day. (I guess I enjoy most of most of my days, but I have so enjoyed the homeschool journey on which God has led us.) Right now one part of that day centers around Geography. It started as a weekly topic, and as interest has grown we have added it into our daily schedule. Thanks to the flexibility of homeschooling, we can do that kind of thing!

It started slowly. About a year ago, a friend of ours made it to the state level for the National Geography Bee. My oldest still had a year before he could participate, but the idea of a competition piqued his interest. We faced a bit of a challenge because in order for him to participate I had to find other homeschoolers in our area also interested in participating, and someone willing to moderate, because I couldn't moderate with a child in the competition. When I began to lose hope, I got an email from a teacher at a homeschool co-op that had coordinated a bee. Blake, my son, only had a few weeks to 'cram' all of the info in the world (pretty much literally) into his brain.

We got books from the library, studied the globe, filled in blank United States and world maps, and enjoyed many geography websites. Homeschooling before the internet and without a public library would be quite a different world. National Geographic has a website with a daily quiz that we enjoy. Out of the ten daily questions I have never gotten them all right, and they are a great spring board for study of areas of the world that we may have overlooked. These questions also resemble real bee questions as well.

A couple other sites that others have told us about include a fun site to see how well you know your geographical locations around the world, to the nearest kilometer. Blake nailed Vatican City within just 24 km! I got Brussels, Belgium within 4 km (luck, somewhat, I know). It gets pretty tough, asking about islands in Micronesia and other places not familiar to most North Americans. If you want to test your geography knowledge in a fast paced, interesting format, and stretch your kids also, check out this geography quiz.

Another geography study site we have gotten a lot of use out of takes you from a tutorial level through to 'cartographer.' This helps you place countries into their correct locations, identify capitals, and learn various regions around the world. They have both world wide and United States geography. The toughest levels show you a blank continent and give you a country outline that may or may not be the right size and position to fit on the map. You have to figure out which country it is and where it goes on the map. These activities really help you learn your stuff.

Hope what we have learned and enjoyed can help some other budding cartographers out there, or at least given some interesting resources for your homeschool geography studies.

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