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When my daughter and I were planning for her freshman year, she was certain that she wanted to do world geography for her social studies credit. We’ve been pretty heavy-handed with both world and U.S. history over the last several years, so she was ready to change focus a bit and concentrate on the places, people, and culture of the world, rather than the historical events.
I always take every opportunity that I can to teach across subjects and combine credits, because I feel like it helps kids to see how different aspects of life are intertwined, provides a multi-dimensional academic experience, and is a wise use of time and resources.
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Art is such a natural element to include when learning about world geography. All people groups across the world have developed their own unique forms of art that help to define their culture and tell their story.
So, when we decided on world geography for this year, I immediately suggested art as an elective. It didn’t take much convincing, since my daughter is the artsy type anyway. When we had the idea of meeting with her friend once a week to do geography art projects together, that sealed the deal!
I just needed to find a tool that would give us a good framework for our geography art class. Sure, I could look up projects online as we came to each part of the world in our studies, but I thought it would be handy to have the ideas all in one place for easy reference.
We had used Trail Guide to Learning when my kids were younger, and we absolutely loved it! I thought I remembered seeing a high school world geography course on their website, so I looked it up.
And then…BONUS!…I also discovered The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide! Well, maybe I shouldn’t say I discovered it. But, I came across it for the first time, and I was super excited when I read about all the tools it included for teaching geography!
All of the resources in the bundle are used together to create a complete high school geography course, but I want to focus on Geography Through Art and The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide and what they add to the experience.
Can I use these books for different ages of students?
Yes! Just as with most of the Geomatters publications, both Geography Through Art and The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide are set up to work with multiple age groups. In fact, you can use them at any level K-12, so they’d be a great addition to your homeschool library!
Since we are using them for high school world geography, though, I will focus on how they can be used for homeschool high school students.
Geography Through Art is like a cultural art idea treasure trove! It features 27 different countries from six continents in over 100 projects. It gives background on the continents and art forms and includes the materials list and instructions for each project.
The star icons next to the titles let you know the difficulty level-primary, intermediate, or secondary. We have found that we can usually modify the lower difficulty projects to make them more advanced to fit our high school level needs.
For example, instead of using cardboard tubes for the rain sticks, we used bamboo. Rather than using crayons and wax paper for the stained glass, we mixed paint with glue and painted original designs on real glass.
Even when we’ve needed to do a little research to make a project a bit more challenging for high school art, we’ve still greatly appreciated that Geography Through Art had the idea there for us as a jumping-off point.
Overall, there is a good mixture of projects for all ages, and most can be adapted for use at any level.
I would say the majority of the projects in Geography Through Art can be completed with basic art supplies that most homeschool families already have available. If you want to take it up a notch and make some of the projects a little more authentic, you can find most of what you’ll need at hobby stores or on Amazon.
One of the things we’ve purchased that we have used over and over again is a quality carving kit. So far, we’ve used the carving kit on clay, wood, and soap. The kids seem to pull it out for almost every project!
Types of Art
Geography Through Art offers a wide range of different types of art. There are several quick sketches that give students the opportunity to practice their drawing skills. The use of painting and sculpting techniques are plentiful.
Paper mache, paper crafting, foam crafting, salt dough, chalk, stamping, fabric work, assemblage, string art, sand art, and carving are some of the other types of art you will find in this book.
Tips for art techniques, safety using materials, general teaching, and teaching in groups are all included in Geography Through Art. There are also internet resources, recommendations on how to incorporate the projects into a world geography course, artists profiles, and cultural connections that help generate more meaningful experiences.
Country Menu icons link back to recipes in another GeoMatters book called Eat Your Way Around the World. We don’t have that book, but we have incorporated cultural cooking into our geography art days. After all, cooking is an art form, too!
In fact, our cooking days have been some of the most memorable this school year! The girls look up recipes, plan their shopping lists, and then prepare their international dishes for our two families to enjoy together. It’s a welcome treat for everyone!
The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide 4th Ed. will take your geography courses to a whole new level! I wish I would have had this book throughout our homeschool journey. Honestly, I’m still just scratching the surface of what is available in this amazing resource!
A Teacher Resource
The first thing to keep in mind about The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide is that it’s not a textbook. It’s a resource to help you teach geography.
Now, there are elements that you’ll share with your students to help them learn geography (we’ll talk about those here in a bit), but this book’s main purpose is to provide you with ideas to make geography fun and meaningful for your students!
The first unit of the book starts with a planning session. It discusses teaching and learning styles, student notebooking, and the tools you need to teach geography effectively.
Next, there is a great refresher course that you can use to make sure you are up to speed on the basics of geography before you start to teach it. Don’t worry…there’s only a short true/false test at the end (and you’ll have the answer key)!
It just provides a general overview for those of us who might need a little brushing up to boost our confidence. It covers physical and human geography, as well as the five themes of geography and why they’re important.
You can also use it with your high school students to fill in any knowledge gaps or reinforce prior learning from earlier grades. In general, though, it’s just a really good reference to have to refer back to when questions come up about basic geography terms and principles.
Finally, there are all kinds of tips about maps and how to use them. After all, you can’t teach geography without maps!
Making Geography Fun
Unit Two is all about making geography fun and connecting it to the real world and real people!
Collecting stamps, postcards, or currency from around the world; establishing pen pals; following a dollar bill to see where it travels; and geocaching or letterboxing-these are just a few of the fun activities that are suggested in the guide.
Then, of course, food comes up again in The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide just like it did in Geography Through Art. It is so fun and interesting to see (and taste) the food of different cultures around the world!
Connecting Geography to Other Subjects
I said this earlier in the post, but I’ll say it again. Any time you can teach across the curriculum, do it! Life doesn’t happen in a bubble, and neither should learning.
The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide does a great job of showing how you can teach geography right along with literature, science, math, and history. There are several activities that you can incorporate into your students’ other subjects, including a literature unit study!
Lessons and Activities
Remember how I told you there was some content in this book that the students could use to learn geographical facts (as opposed to the teaching resources that comprise the majority of the book)? Well, that’s what Unit Four is all about!
There is a middle school chapter that gives information on each continent and select countries from that continent, as well as mapping activities for each. The high school chapter takes the mapping to a deeper level and provides challenge questions for each continent. Essay question suggestions are also available.
All of this content can be used together with Trail Guide to World Geography to form a complete one-year high school geography course.
Note: You’ll need to have some other resources available to your students, such as atlases, outline maps, and an almanac. I recommend the National Geographic Almanac because of the amazing photos from around the world!
The final unit of The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide covers the use of timelines in quite a bit of detail. But why combine timelines with geography?
Well, geography and history are eternally intertwined. After all, the events of history have defined and re-defined nations century after century.
Is it absolutely necessary to study history alongside geography? The authors of this book highly encourage you to teach them concurrently.
I don’t think it’s critical, as long as you’ve provided a strong foundation of history throughout your homeschooling years. Although, I do believe you should include some geography with any history class to give your students a reference point of where different historical events have taken place.
However you decide to do it, the guidance you’ll find in The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide will have you set up to create amazing timelines that will have personal significance to your students!
Included with The Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide is a PDF file with 180 pages of digital resources! This is where it all came together for me!
Flashcards of geography terms, activity sheets, all of the middle and high school content from Unit Four, outline maps, and timeline templates and figures can all be printed for your student to use in their geography notebook.
You won’t be able to utilize either one in its entirety in a single school year. But, you’ll find yourself returning to these resources year after year to glean every nugget of goodness from them as your students explore our amazing world!
Do yourself a favor and add these to your teaching toolkit ASAP!