4. Architecture/Homes—different styles
of housing around the world, famous
structures from Egypt’s pyramids to
Sydney’s Opera House, etc.
5. Soils, weather/climate, natural disasters, etc.
Have students look at the photos you
chose. Tell them that all of the photos
showed something about geography, and
then see if they can come up with a definition for geography. Compare your homeschoolers’ definitions with ones from the
dictionary or a textbook. Were they surprised about how many different elements
or concepts are a part of geography?
The Five Themes of Geography
Now that your students have an understanding of what geography is, they can
take that knowledge and get creative.
Younger learners can make collages
from cutout pictures related to their basic understanding of geography. They
might even glue things on these collages, such as grains of rice next to a picture
of a rice paddy or a paper doll in traditional dress as an example of culture,
etc. Encourage students to look around
for anything that relates to geography
for their collages: old stamps, leaves
from outdoors, etc.
Older students could choose a location and try to make a collage that shows
the five themes of geography as relevant
to a particular location. The National
Council for Geographic Education came
up with five themes to help students and
teachers understand geography better.
They are as follows:
1. Location: Where are things located?
This can be specific (using latitude
and longitude coordinates) or general (in the Southwest).
2. Place: How is one place different
from another place? For example,
how are the climate, landforms, or
people in Texas different from those
3. Human-environment interaction:
How do people relate to their environment? For example, what kinds of
houses do people build in Thailand
as opposed to Siberia? Have people
changed or adapted to the environment in which they live?
4. Movement: How do people, goods,
and ideas get from place to place?
Are there patterns in this movement?
5. Regions: How can the Earth be
broken up into regions (sections) to
understand it better? Regions can be
described in terms of language, vegetation, political divisions, religions,
and so on.
Learners might make a collage showing
aspects of France (or the state where you
live), based on the five themes. Depending on your schedule, students could also
use this collage-making activity as a conclusion to your geography unit.
Journal Writing Project
If there’s one thing that students of all ages
usually enjoy, it’s creative writing. This project can be as simple or elaborate as your
time frame allows. When I taught middle
school before I had children, my students
did a “Journal Through Europe” project
that took the better part of a month. They
had to “visit” several countries and describe what they “did” and “saw” on their
European tour in their journals. Guidebooks, travel magazines and videos, and of
course, the Internet, can serve as wonderful
resources for students who want to know
what they could see in Paris or Stockholm,
for example. If your family knows people
from overseas, learners can interview them
about the sights, sounds, and scents of various locations around the globe.
Here are a few variations to think
about when assigning your travel journal
1. Younger homeschoolers who are not
as competent at writing can have more
pictures in their journals. Most little
kids are thrilled to have a blank (not
lined) journal and a few nice colored
pencils to use for this purpose. The
journals for this age group might
involve writing about a trip to one
location, rather than a series of
Lily with some Korean dolls found on a
scavenger hunt through the house
2. If you are studying a particular culture or country in one of your other
curriculum areas, this journal writing could tie in with that academic
research. For example, if you are
studying the Renaissance in history
or art, your students could “travel”
throughout Italy with several destinations (Florence, Naples, Venice,
etc.) in this geography journal.
Books and Resources
Nonfiction for Younger Students
•;A;Child’s;Introduction;to;the;World:;Ge-ography, Cultures, and People—From
the Grand Canyon to the Great Wall by
Heather Alexander (Black Dog & Lev-enthal, 2010)
• Discovering World Geography with
Books Kids Love by Nancy Chicola and
Eleanor B. English (Fulcrum Publishing, 1999)