My home is stuffed with homeschool geography resources, we travel a lot, so we have books, photo albums, memorabilia and trinkets from every corner of the globe. The children have grown up immersed in talk of Asia and South America, there is an illustrated map of Tibet on the wall and they know all about my love of the Himalayas. But what can you, as a homeschooling parent, buy or obtain for free to help your children learn geography. We review some of the best geography toys, games, books and online resources available in 2018.
We’ve been sitting at the table this afternoon colouring and drawing together. D (8) asked me “Who was first to discover Australia Mum?”
Now really he should know, he’s been on the Endeavour and the Dyfken, been on a field trip to Cooktown and explored Aboriginal history, we’ve talked about the Dutch and the Portuguese all while we were trying to follow the curriculum in our first few months of homeschooling. Guess what, it didn’t stick! No surprises there.
So, we coloured and we talked, I pulled down a book about the subject, we got out the globe, we played a game. Maybe he’ll remember this stuff now, maybe not, actually, does it matter? I really don’t think it does.
What matters is that he was interested enough at that moment to ask the question, I had the tools to answer him and we had some fun together. As we talked about history we moved towards geography, you really can’t separate the two subjects, we ended up memorising all the countries in South East Asia, for fun. I guess that’s what they call homeschool flow in action. Maybe he enjoyed asking that question so much he’ll think of another good one tomorrow. I can only hope!
I sometimes think of my approach to homeschooling as the “sling enough mud against the wall and some of it will stick” approach. It seems to be working, every time they ask a question their background knowledge is getting deeper and deeper. It helps build my confidence as a homeschooling parent, I’m seeing results. I can’t believe how I stressed over getting him to memorise facts two years ago, what a waste of time. He’s picking it up now, he’s two years older, his brain is more developed and he’s interested. I can’t think of a worse way to learn that having the curriculum rammed down your throat in the exact sequence and age progression the government prefers.
Here are some of the tools I love for slinging that mud.
Fun Homeschool Geography Resources
First up, the toy that has been with me since before the kids were even born, pictured at the top of the page, the LeapFrog® Explorer Smart Globe. My husband and I used to play this together, trying to beat each other on the global knowledge game. OK, we’re travel geeks! This globe is now considered a collectible, but there are still a few on Amazon to buy, a modern version is featured below.
It wasn’t just about naming countries, preschoolers can touch a country to hear its music ( use it as a music resource, too), older ones can start naming continents and oceans before moving on to countries and capitols. You can also use it to find out the distance or flying time between any two points.
Every household should have a globe, they are a great prop in demonstrating just about any global concept, the equator, latitude and longitude, the meridians, seasons and day and night. Our talking globe computer was the wizz bang ultimate in homeschool geography resources. Buy a similar one, you won’t regret it!
An Illustrated Kids World Map for Floor or Wall
Just a big, fun, laminated map that the kids can spread out on the floor and have fun with. Ours has cool pictures of sumo wrestlers, narwhals, grizzly bears and Spanish dancers. The children have been looking at it since they could crawl, I’m pretty sure a fair bit of mud has stuck in that time.
Map jigsaw puzzles are cool too, anything that makes learning fun works.
Geography Books and Geography Related Books
Horrible Histories also do Horrible Geography. These books are awesome, they cover subjects in amazing breadth and keep children amused as they learn, my 8 year old loves these.
We have this Great Global Puzzle Challenge with Google Earth(TM). It’s fun enough to keep the children happy while learning the important real life skill of using Google Earth. Maybe it won’t get you a job, but if you can use Google Earth properly it’s an incredible tool. This book takes you around the globe, solving clues and collecting map coordinates. I have to do this with my 8 year old, to an extent, the map coordinates can be tricky, but once he finds the 3D virtual tours of ancient monuments, or the summit of Kilimanjaro, he has a great time with it. He really can use Google Earth better than me, the best way to learn about any piece of softwear, I think, is to just play around with it, building your skills as you go.
Free Online Homeschool Geography Resource
One free online geography resources that we have used over and over again is Seterra, a free downloadable geography game. It’s very simple, you just identify the countries by clicking on the map, but it’s amazing how quickly the knowledge sinks in. We have fun with it competing against each other and trying to beat our highest scores. Maps can be narrowed down so that you can work on one region at a time, it also does flags.
Have Fun Learning About The World
Make it fun and the kids will love you for it. I know my children spend far more time switched on if we’re playing a game or just chatting together, break out the worksheets and they want to run away. It’s taken me a while to get to this point of absolute casualness, I was pretty uptight to start with but seeing results has given me the confidence to carry on doing it my way, is it unschooling? I don’t know.
Good luck with your homeschooling and have fun with geography resources, mix it up, cook dishes from around the world, watch movies set in various countries and times, play with Google Earth, watch dance and musical performances on You Tube. Best of all, travel. Who needs work sheets?