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Create a Geography Table in Your Homeschool

When children are in the grammar stage (elementary years) they are ripe for memorizing facts and yearn for more.

Geography is the perfect subject to let them sink their teeth into.  There is just SO MUCH they can learn.

Being a part of Classical Conversations  brought to light the importance of geography. It equipped me to organize facts about geography and assist my children in memorizing them. 

As is so often the case, I am merely facilitating their learning - and learning right along with them. One resource I have recently discovered is Prisoners of Geography - fabulous for us to understand the WHY behind a lot of geography and to share that with our children - particularly our Challenge age children!  I also highly recommend reading the section about geography in The Core. 

 

Create a Geography Table in your Homeschool

* This post contains affiliate links.

As a part of Cycle 3, my Foundations student learn 24 geography facts - all of these related to the United States of America. He learned all of the state capitals, mountain ranges, rivers, lakes, features, etc... 

Our last time through Cycle 3 I wanted to facilitate an even deeper understanding of geography. I created a very simple geography table. (As you will see in the video at the end of the post, I simply repurposed a coffee table and put it in a sunny spot in our home.)

If I learned anything that year, it is that the memory work in CC is ENOUGH. First and foremost, I wanted my children to memorize the grammar of geography. My go to resource was ALWAYS the Foundations guide

*These resources are geared towards a study of US geography.

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Supplies for a Geography Table

{These supplies are highlighted in the video below.}

Globe and/or Atlas

DK Atlas (recommended by Classical Conversations)

Globe

Small White Board

Tracing Paper

Notebook with LOTS of sheet protectors  (I made the cover for the notebook in my word processing program.)

Continental Blob Mapping Packet (LOVE this!)

Traceable Maps (various maps I choose from CC Connected)

Sharpies

Geography Coloring Book(s)

Smart About the 50 States

Notebooking Pages    (My membership to Notebooking Pages comes in handy for so many things... particularly geography!)

Daily Geography Routine 

This was always an independent activity for my son. I need this time at the beginning of the day to meet with my daughter and get her moving with her schoolwork. Usually 30 minutes was spent at the geography table.

My son did the following EACH DAY: 

  • Copy the continental blob map on the white board
  • Draw the blob map from memory on the white board  (Doing this is SO beneficial -- I cannot stress this enough!)
  • Trace that week's map from the folder
  • Work on a state coloring page or notebooking page corresponding to the memory work
  • Review previous maps (this way we will be more well prepared for Memory Master at the end of the year!)
  • Free reading/reference:  Use Smart About the 50 States

Here's a video to explain about the geography table in more details.  Enjoy!  


Geography Resources

Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps That Explain Everything About the WorldFoundations Guide, 4th Edition Fourth EditionThe Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical EducationInteractive Globe for Kids, 2 in 1, Day View World Globe and Night View Illuminated Constellation MapDarice 9-Inch-by-12-Inch Tracing Paper, 100-SheetsBoard Dudes Metalix Magnetic Dry Erase Board 8.5 x 11 Inches (DDT37)Compact Atlas of the World: 6th Edition (Compact World Atlas)Smart About the Fifty States: A Class Report (Smart About History)Sharpie Fine-Tip Permanent Marker, 24-Pack Assorted ColorsAmazonBasics Clear Sheet Protectors - Letter Size (100 Pack)United States Coloring Book (Dover History Coloring Book)The 50 States: Facts & Fun (Dover Little Activity Books)Geography Coloring Book (3rd Edition)Geography from A to Z: A Picture Glossary (Trophy Picture Books (Paperback))

 

 

Is geography a subject in your homeschool?

 Do you study it on its own, or do you incorporate it into your history curriculum?  

I'd love to hear how everyone approaches geography!

 

You might also like:  

5 Ways to Supplement Foundations:  Simple Additions to Your Homeschooling Day

Goodies for CC Cycle 3

Homeschooling The Middle School Boy

*If you're hoping for curriculum specifics for the homeschool boy, this isn't the post for you... (but I hope you'll read it anyways) I want to speak to you today about your boy's HEART and SPIRIT... which is much more important than curriculum!

Homeschooling a middle school boy has been one of the most rewarding pursuits in my life.

Middle school boyhood is this magical time of inbetween-ness.... our boys are growing so quickly, yet they are struggling to remain young and boyish inside.

One day they are examining their armpits for the evidence of hair, and the next they are asking you to to snuggle on the couch.

One day they are smack talking on the football field with their buddies, and the next they are asking you to be tucked in at night.

This dichotomy is a beautiful thing. 

We get both the glimpse of the little boy and the picture of the budding young man. 

(Because one day soon, they will be in high school - and that's another animal all together!)

In my humble opinion, there is nothing more rewarding than witnessing this stage in any boy --- except possibly getting to HOMESCHOOL the middle school boy.

 

Homeschooling the Middle School Boys

My husband has been so encouraged by Raising a Modern Day Knight by Robert Lewis. It was given to us last year - just as we were beginning middle school. 

I've also witnessed friends raise their boys, and I've asked questions and taken notes. We can learn so much from those who have gone before us. 

Here we are in the thick of middle school and it's going very well - in fact I would say it's my favorite time with my son so far! 


 

5 Tips For Homeschooling The Middle School Boy

 

Provide Male Role Models Who Aren't Dad

Yes, a boy needs his father as a role model, but in addition to that he also needs strong male role models that are NOT his father. 

As always, you have to keep your eyes and ears open for these opportunities, and I'm simply amazed at the number of people in our communities that WANT to be involved in our homeschool.  They want to pass on what they know, and they want to be involved in our sons' lives.

Over the past year my son has been learning to forge with a master blacksmith from our church.  Grant gathers with other boys his own age, as well as with men of ALL ages and they forge crosses to give to others.  Our blacksmith has a Purple Heart. He served in Vietnam. He is passing on ideals and values that our boys so desperately need and CRAVE. 

What a tremendous blessing this is -- and how VALUABLE this in my son's emotional development (not to mention learning an ancient skill working with his hands).

 

Homeschooling the Middle School Boys

As I see my son gift a cross to someone, I listen to him talk about how he made the cross, and I see the sense of pride and accomplishment in his sweet eyes. 

This very tender gift was created by a very strong man. It's tremendously moving when you stop to think about. 

Homeschooling allows us time to spend time with these mentors. It allows us to develop a creative curriculum that could possibly include a mentor. The sky is the limit! 

Do anything possible to find strong male role models for your boys.

 

Keep a Close Relationship With Mom

On the other hand, our boys also desperately still need their mothers. Don't check out because your middle school boy is becoming more independent and maybe even pulling away from you.

I provide my son with MANY opportunities to help me around the house. I encourage him to always open doors for his sister and me, and to serve his sister in unexpected ways. 

Just as our boys need the masculinity from the male role models, that need the feminine influence that will demonstrate to them how to treat their wives and children one day.

The way to my son's heart is through any kind of chocolate - so if I take him for a Frappucino he's quite satisfied. I'm amazed at the conversations we have during those times together. Our boys need us as a confidant, guide, and encourager.

Make time for this.

Homeschooling Middle School Boys

I still read aloud to my son and he loves it.  (Right now we're reading through Hatchett.) One of favorite read-alouds was Little Pilgrim's Progress which we completed last year. 

My son keeps me laughing constantly and is a complete goof ball - he knows that he can cheer me up in a way no one else can. It is important for our boys to have this close connection with their moms. 

Every time he gets out of the car when I drop him off somewhere he gives me a kiss on the cheek with a quick "Love, ya, mom."  I realize this may not continue forever, but I'll take it while I can. 

Homeschooling promotes this strong relationship with our boys.

We are encouraging them through their ups and downs, and they are having the chance to help us in the day to day running of our homes. Don't underestimate the importance of this in your son's life. Many people want to give our boys up during these years (and I realize that one day my son may need more than I can provide at home), but for now I believe the benefits are many.

 

This close relationship with mom  will enable our boys to stand on their own two feet as young men. We give them the security, love, and sense of purpose they need during their most valuable developmental time - and it WILL pay off.

 

Let Them Be Part of a Team

Team sports is a sticky subject. 

On the one hand I fundamentally disagree with the time commitment and sometimes intense parental involvement that comes with team sports. On the other hand, however, I see tremendous benefits for our boys.

As homeschoolers it's sometimes difficult to find these team opportunities.  Thankfully, middle school students can still participate in rec leagues. We've also had luck with an NFL Flag Football program and the Upward sports program, both of which are nationwide.  We've also played on basketball teams at our local YMCA.

(I know a mother who recruited a couple of tennis coaches to start a homeschool tennis team, too -- if it's not available you can always start it yourself!)

My son transforms when he walks on the football field or basketball court. He is focused, determined, competitive, and driven. These traits, in healthy moderation, are good for our boys. It is also good for our boys to LOSE and to feel that things are UNFAIR. It is good for our boys to WIN and experience that sense of SUCCESS, too.

From a purely physical standpoint, our boys also need this energy release! 

Homeschooling Middle School Boys

I've heard of people giving up on homeschooling because their sons need greater sports opportunities. 

I think this is a shame - because there are opportunities available, and in many places public schools are now allowing homeschoolers to participate in their sports teams. 

It IS possible to give our middle school boys a team sport experience, and I believe it is good for them.

 

Encourage Fine Arts (instead of video games)

Does it seem that every middle school boy out there wants to talk about video games?  There's nothing inherently wrong with wanting to play video games, but when this interest becomes an obsession and crowds out things of true BEAUTY, it is a problem. 

When we homeschool our boys we have the perfect opportunity to instill in them a love of the arts, and how these have been given to us to come closer to our Creator. We have the opportunity to FLOOD THEM WITH BEAUTY. 

Let them play an instrument, encourage them to take art lessons, take them to museums and the symphony.

Homeschooling allows us to provide a FEAST of beauty for our children - and you never know what might speak to them. 

My son loves to play the piano and loves jazz in particular. We went to see the Atlanta Symphony play a program of Gershwin and Copland. I will never forget the wonder in my son's eyes when the soloist for the evening began playing Rhapsody in Blue -- these things inspire our children. They put them in touch with something deep inside of themselves.

On a recent trip to Florida, we had a rainy day and I decided to take the kids to The Ringling Museum of Art. Grant wasn't excited about this (I think he wanted to go to the movies instead), but I persisted and we had such a memorable visit. 

As you can see, "boys will be boys" -- we got a bit silly in the Dwarf Garden, but in the process learned a lot about John Ringling and how he had brought these statues to Sarasota from Italy. 

Homeschooling The Middle School Boy

We also saw the world's largest collection of Peter Paul Rubens' paintings - which was an incredible experience. The conversations I had with my son about the symbolism in the paintings, as well as the history behind them, was quite frankly astonishing to me. 

Homeschooling the Middle School Boy

Back to the video games: I'm not saying our boys should NEVER play video games, but keeping them to a minimum is wise! I am just like you and struggle with my son wanting to play Minecraft and MLB The Show at every opportunity. But I'm not giving in easily and I'm fighting tooth and nail to expose him to beauty! 

Our boys are capable of such depth of thought and feeling, and by homeschooling them we can give ample exposure to the fine arts, which nurtures these characteristics.

 

Make Them WORK

When you homeschool your tween/teen boys you have lots of time to make them WORK. 

They can unload the dishwasher, cut the grass, vacuum the living room, and yes -- cook dinner.

They get to work at things that MATTER, where they might normally be sitting in school working on a worksheet (which in all likelihood doesn't matter!)

Getting your middle school boy involved in volunteering is the perfect thing to do at this age. They are extremely capable of serving and being of valuable assistance in many cases. My kids both volunteer for a mobile food pantry in our area, and I'm always jumping on any opportunity that comes our way to WORK.  

Homeschooling Middle School Boys

By giving your son the gift of WORK you are helping them step outside of themselves (and let's be honest - most middle schoolers tend to be somewhat self-centered by nature).

When you homeschool your middle school boy you can give them the valuable gift of WORK!

 

Give Them Plenty of Time To Be Alone

(This is bonus tip #6 -- because I just couldn't keep it to 5!)

Children in our day and age don't know how to be bored.

Homeschooling gives our children PLENTY of time to be alone and bored, and I like that.

While I do believe in academic rigor, I also believe in building in time just for NOTHING. 

Our middle school boys are going through so many intense changes. They are growing exponentially and it seems like they are too big for their bodies (anyone else's son fall going up the stairs or bang their head getting in the car?!?). Giving our boys time and space helps them learn to be alone and helps them process these many changes.

Time for NOTHING also encourages creativity and innovation. 

And by NOTHING I don't mean sitting and playing on an iPod! 

(And yes, my son has an iPod, but he has to ask before he plays on it and his time is limited. I realize most 7th grade boys have a phone at this point, but we're weird parents and don't allow that yet.)

Some of my son's favorite things to do when he is alone are:

  • build LEGOS
  • read
  • draw
  • sleep (not kidding -- my son actually will take a nap in the afternoon because he's growing so much!)
  • organize baseball and football cards

As I watched my son playing in the water before a gorgeous Southwest Florida sunset, it struck me how happy he was being ALONE. He was playing all by himself in the water, stopping every now and then to just float on his board and appreciate the sunset - and in the next second running up onto the beach to tell me about it.

God gave me the affirmation I needed that evening - the affirmation to stay the course and keep investing in homeschooling my son.

Homeschooling the Middle School Boys

 

Our boys are such a treasure. They are future leaders and innovators. They will one day lead their households and shepherd their own children.

What we do in the middle school years matters. It matters greatly.

Through homeschooling we have a unique opportunity to make a difference - what a tremendous blessing and privilege that is! 


Resources for Homeschooling Middle School Boys

Some of these resources are for the parents - and some are for our boys.

Raising a Modern-Day Knight: A Father's Role in Guiding His Son to Authentic ManhoodKnights in Training: Ten Principles for Raising Honorable, Courageous, and Compassionate BoysBringing Up BoysShaken: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's StormsShaken Bible Study: Discovering Your True Identity in the Midst of Life's StormsShaken: Young Reader's Edition: Fighting to Stand Strong No Matter What Comes Your WayA Young Man After God's Own Heart: A Teen's Guide to a Life of Extreme AdventureA Young Man After God's Own Heart: Turn Your Life into an Extreme Adventure by George, Jim [2005]David Had a Dad: Courageously Raising a Young Man After God's Own HeartFirst and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving UpFrom a Boy to a Godly Man: A Boy's Bible Study of David (Volume 1)Boyhood and BeyondDo Hard Things: A Teenage Rebellion Against Low ExpectationsPilgrim's Progress (Bunyan): Updated, Modern English. More than 100 Illustrations.Little Pilgrim's Progress: From John Bunyan's Classic

 

 

Are you homeschooling a middle school boy?

Care to add any tips to my list?

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Learn About the 50 States

When learning about the 50 United States,  a few excellent resources can serve you well.  Too many choices will leave you feeling overwhelmed and lacking a sense of accomplishment.

These are our tried and true resources for learning about the states.

Drill and repetition has always been the foundation for our learning. This, coupled with books, games and activities, will  cement this knowledge for years to come!

Learn About the 50 States

*This post contains affiliate links.

Memory Work (Apps, Flashcards) for Learning the 50 States

Through our homeschool program we learned  a few states and capitals each week. This constant drill and review cements knowledge of the states. We supplemented with these drill/repetition resources:

GeoMaster: a free app that drills state locations and capitals - much fun!

States & Capitals Flash Cards

Seterra Geography - a great site online for geography!

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Games For Learning The States

The Scrambled States of America This game is such fun!  We've had the book and DVD for years, and the game is such a fun addition to our collection. Learning about the 50 states has never been so easy! 

The 50 States Card Game

Categories

My kids made up their own states and capitals review game at the pool. I'm always the "caller" -- I call a state name as they run off the diving board and they have to say the capital before they hit the water.  Fun! 



Notebooking the 50 States

The last time we learned the states, my children created notebooks.

We used our membership to Notebooking Pages and were able to download notebooking pages for each of the 50 states. This is a great project for your kids to sink their teeth into, and they will have a beautiful finished product when they are done!  


Map Tracing

Map tracing is an integral part of our geography studies. 

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Find maps you like, get some tracing paper and Sharpies, and trace each state as you go. Trace the entire United States, too. You will be amazed at how quickly your child will learn to draw each state and draw the entire United States. 

(Classical Conversations readers: I have used the maps from user heathergwyn on CC Connected.)

We have also found the 50 States Notebooking Pages to be very helpful with maps for tracing!


Fifty Nifty United States - A Song For Learning the States

This is the song I used in my elementary music classes when I was a teacher. It's catchy and your kids will be able to memorize all of the 50 states in alphabetical order in no time! 

 Whatever resources you choose, can I offer one piece of advice?

STAY CONSISTENT!  

I've found that children love it when you repeat things in the same way. Our 50 State study looks like this each week: 

  • introduce the new states (generally 4 or 5 per week) and their capitls -- DRILL THESE daily
  • listen to 50 Nifty United States and sing along
  • trace the entire United States daily and color in the states we are learning about
  • notebook about each of the states during that week
  • make books about the states available (strew around your house on coffee tables, bedside tables, etc...)
  • play games about the states as a family

Devise a plan that works for your children and stick to it. 

Most of all, HAVE FUN!  

Learn the 50 States

Are you studying the 50 United States this year?   Tell me about it! 

 

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