So… Geography has always been a bit of a mish-mash for our family. When the kids were younger we covered most of our geography through
Now we read books that are specific to certain geographic areas and have basic discussions about them and find them on a map. Geography is also naturally covered in History read-alouds and discussions. We’ve also done Map-Drill, which I highly recommend for memorizing maps.
There are suggestions for read-alouds throughout the guide based on the region – some are hard to acquire but some are readily available. These are suggested readings and do not form the spine of the program. I didn’t acquire any of the suggested titles.This is a people-focused program where kids are learning very specifically about individual families in various regions of the world. This makes it quite Charlotte Mason friendly if you consider the idea of biography to express history and geography.
How the Program Works:
The two spine books (Material World and Hungry Planet by Peter Menzel) are used for every single volume in this series. If you don’t own them, the program won’t work at all. Likewise, if you don’t love those books – you won’t love the program.
The set-up is a series of ‘visits’ from 1 – 36. This could be 1 for every week of the school year but doesn’t have to be.
The lessons go in rotations or a type of loop. For example:
Visit 1: Map the countries of Europe– Great Britain and Ireland (students are given a map of Europe and they either write or past the names of Great Britain and Ireland onto the map. There is also recommended reading – Megan’s Year: An Irish Travellers Story for grades 1-3, The British Empire and the Great Division of the Globe for ages 4-12).
Visit 2: Meet the Families – Here you read a part of Material World about the Hodson family who live in Great Britain. Then there are questions for discussion. An example of question: “Look closely at the picture of the Hodson family’s house and belongings on page 210 and 211. Can you identify all the belongings.” Another question is: “Read the Photographer’s Note on page 215. Based on the description, the photographs, and the clothing the people in the photographs are wearing. How would you describe the weather in Great Britain?”
Visit 3: Make your own Map – The kids are no tracing their own map of Great Britain using a map that is provided in the guide/student sheets.
Visit 4: Meet the Families – Now we get to know another family from Great Britain in Hungry Planet. Questions include: “Read the narrative of the morning the author spent at the Bainton family’s house on page 141. Tell what you learned about their life.” and “Look at the photographs and read the captions on page 142 and 143 to find out more about the Bainton family’s lifestyle.
The program continues with map work, biographical readings from Hungry Planet and Material World, and with various conversational or written questions the students answer and consider.
There are also a “Detailed Visits Project” idea that suggests older students creating a spreadsheet to express data and stats given on each country.
Thoughts and Recommendations:
Based on my experience teaching my kiddos, I actually think this program is best suited for middle school and beyond. The questions are fairly simple but the reading and map work is advanced. The spine books used are geared to older kids, in my opinion. In fact, Hungry Planet and Material World are not kids books at all but written to an adult audience.There were some topics I wasn’t really comfortable with for my younger kids and they weren’t particularly engaged with the text. It really is geared to much older students.
The books are written well but they aren’t narratives, just non-fiction writing of mostly facts about the given families. They are written in a conversational tone – but not a living book style. Hope that makes sense.
The photos and captions, mind you, are quite interesting, especially for people/kids who like stats and information they can compare. I would say, though, the books don’t work that well as read-alouds. If you are looking for a read-aloud geography book – these are not the books. These work far better as individual reads. (Of course, this is just my opinion!)
I think this program would work best done individually by an older student instead of trying to do it as a family read-aloud type program.
For this purpose, it would make a very thorough and engaging geography series in a Charlotte Mason format for a child who loved information and comparing various stats and regions of the world.
Hope this review was helpful for you all.