Archive for the ‘Hands-On Geography’ Category

Life here at the never ending story is wonderfully full and loud, if not hard to explain.  My dh once asked me what I did all day.  I just looked at him and realized that I had been holding my breath. 
I said…"I don’t know!" 
He said, "Why don’t you try to write it down?" 
to which I replied ..
"Honey, if I did that, I wouldn’t be able to get the rest of whatever it is that I do done!"  So once in a great while I do try to write and this is what I came up with for today….

  • First and foremost… we begin our day with morning prayer and with everyone’s attention completely focussed on their wonderful mother  ( I can dream, can’t I?  After all the day looks so much better at its conclusion when their sweet heads are resting on their pillows and the house shudders in real quiet) …oops sorry -end of dream sequence-… we try to hit at least one "shared" subject (one that they all do together)


  • Geography  Book of Marvels read about Yucatan Peninsula and had large motor boy (8) point out everything we learned so far on the world map
  • American History  From Sea to Shining Sea  read St Brendan’s Voyage to 6yo dd and 8yo ds and made rabbit trail about Whales..older kids reviewed what we have learned so far this year (started in January and reviewing the first 7 chapters)
  • Bible History/ Poetry   Robert Hugh Benson Old Testament Rhymes divided up the 25 pages to be memorized by 5 dc (13,13,11,8,6) at our homeschool group’s poetry day…one month to prepare!  Great review of Salvation History for the young’uns ;o)
  • Math   Math U See everyone did at least 3 pages in his/her level except one ds awaiting new book so he "played math" with the 4yo
  • Catechism Stories  Catechism in Examples (3 Theological Virtues 4 Cardinal Virtues) read during dinner…when I have their full attention and relative quiet
  • Religion  Women in the Bible (Image of God 6) Esther, Suzannah, Hannah, Mary read aloud and discussed
  • Notebooking   Made copies of Women in the Bible booklets (Dinah Zike OT supplement)to be filled tomorrow
  • Mary Notebook  Add this pic to the little one’s Mary Notebook
  • Math in the Kitchen...make this Scone Recipe adding in leftover mini chips and use 1/3 of a cup to measure with and btw..double the recipe ;o)
  • Spelling   Spelling time
  • Phonics Study Dog
  • Fine Art National Gallery of Art Video Christmas Story in art (30 min) and Adoration of the Magi (7min) Read more here…available to homeschoolers all you pay is return postage!
  • Copywork  Each child chose their own work…and is amazed at how much we are amassing at this point!
  • Dictation …didn’t happen.  I couldn’t round up all the usual suspects towards the end of "school time"  The day was too bright and beautiful…this is real life folks ;o)  Dictation will be second thing tomorrow.
  • Manners/Prayers  Read How to Behave and Why before bed and say night prayers and rosary

Now of course you need to know, I slept in late, I had to round up the kids from the yard twice (once because the mailman wanted to throw a few balls to my son…gotta love our mailman LOL), changed the toddler’s diaper no less than 5 times and dressed her about 11 times, and at the high point of the action, my ds(4) wanted to know what grave (grade) he was in …making sure my sense of humor was still alive and well.  ;o)

And of course there are many many books read by all during the day.  The older ones read to the younger ones and they also have some book in their hand for themselves during their free time…and all the books are definitely school-worthy. 

There is so much learning that goes on that naturally fits in with the day….natural connections  …Like science…we didn’t get to it (technically) but we did.  At bedtime there was rain and thunder and lightning.   My 2yo dd thought that someone was outside taking a picture, so this went into a completely natural conversation about thunder and lightning and its benefits.  Bath time is full of phonics sound games and childhood songs and poems and children’s religious songs.  During the school day there is an ebb and flow of activity….lulls between subjects  are always filled with "extras"  The children are always picking up books and going to pre-approved sites on the net that exercise logical thinking skills and creative learning.  Even an interesting fine art picture can lead to an interesting discussion about the use of color or a flurry of activity to learn more about the artist’s life or his other paintings…If I listed them all, it would take me all night! 

And at the end of the day, the yard got cleaned up, the little ones were bathed,  and most of the dishes were done, the diapers are soaking, underneath the math manipulatives the floor is clean  and I just drank a great cup of chamomile tea….and my life is one run-on sentence.

PHEW!  I am tired.  The good kind.

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One of my favorite blogs to visit is Kim’s at Starry Sky Ranch.  It is almost scary how I seem to find there things I am already working on or things that have been in the back of my mind to find more about.  I say scary because I never met anyone like me in my local homeschool circles.  I love to be Hands-On and Montessori-ish and go on rabbit trails and read living books and research great living foods and re-discover devotional things long forgotten and books long out of print.


Last week I went to the Evan Moor site to research what centers I wanted next when I came across their new teacher site  Teacherfilebox.com  It advertised that for a monthly fee of 9.99 you could have unlimited access to many of their teacher materials (over 450 books used) and the first month was only .99 for just trying it out…how could I go wrong??!….but I did hesitate to figure out the details… then I was reading at Starrysky Ranch about this very thing…the centers and the new site as Dani reminded me and I decided to take the plunge.  My printer has been a bit busy today setting some things together for the current lapbooking project the kids are embarking upon for the next few weeks…Astronomy.  I hope to put the finishing touches on my "plan" so we can play with this info tomorrow afternoon after lunch. 

For the past year, we have slowly started using and loving the Evan Moor Centers as part of our curricula.  (I added the links in the left sidebar)  I find that they are a nice compliment for what we are already studying and then some…because many times they are springboards to further exploration.  Since we run the gambit of their levels in our age ranges, I have all of their levels going at the same time.  For even my oldests(13) they get a lot out of the grade 4-6 range centers.  They can be added practice for them or cover a topic that might not have been completely fleshed out for them before…

The first book we purchased was the Geography Centers.  I fell in love with them on line by going to the Evan Moor site and clicking on the individual center and it had a function to view the book page-by-page.  I was sooo happy to find this book because it enabled me to get more Montessori without too much time researching how I wanted everything to be laid out.  It was done for me already.  I have always wanted a partner making materials….so far, no one has stepped up for the job…  (they don’t know what fun they are missing…sniff!)

I do have an inexpensive laminator from Walmart that does an OK job.  I get my pouch laminate from Oregon Lamination…they have a flat fee for shipping (that helps!)  There are times when I just take the manipulatives for the centers and just use packing tape onto index cards.  I have also used clear contact paper over cereal boxes (cut open) which have proved to be very durable too.  I have even just printed on heavier weight paper and cut it out for use.  So, it really depends on your preference. 
When I copy my centers, I do use the lighter feature when I print to save ink.  I also just print the fronts of the cards and not the backs.  If I have to, I will often add a mark with sharpie on the back of the card to make it self-correcting.   It will save you a bit in printing costs and the bulk of the folder if you laminate the worksheet  to make it a write on/wipe off center. 

Next up…..History Pockets and other 3D fun things for notebooking/lapbooking/scrapbooking!

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Cul_6023_map_usaMy dear friend Anne passed this link to me today!  What a great way to study geography!  Just as my dear friend mentioned, my children also seem to mix up the idea of different continents being made up of countries.  They often get upset that maps will divide the US  into states and wonder why other "continents’ states" aren’t Cul_6017_south_uslabeled…..mmm…time for more exploration, me thinks!  Check out the interactive maps and find out how much YOU know ;o)!

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My younger set (3,5,7 yo) are reading their way through their studies of the world now with the older ones (10,12,12) looking over their shoulders.  We want to discover the people and places that are on this great big world that God made.  As we go through different books, we are adding in Montessori presentations and projects to make our work 2 and 3 dimensional. 

I have limited time and energy so I like to make my movements count by being as organized as I can.   We are taking some of these projects and pictures of projects and placing them in a 3 ring binder with page protectors so we can have a record of our journey.  We are NOT doing all of this at once and much of it is very simple.

Organizational Ideas:

One of the first things I learned (the hard way 😉 was
~simplify and stay organized!
~have only a few items out at time for exploration
~keep supplies in closed clear containers for storage.

Organization for any  papers or supplies for lessons:

~place in a prep Mommy binder or file folder…pre-printed and hole punched immediately from the printer

~print out topics to be covered and presentation notes

~place the sheets into my 3 ring Mommy Binder for storage
(divided by little colored post-it notes)

~jot notes on these little post-its if there are other items that need to be added to a lesson (i.e. a book,  Montessori 3 part cards,  a prepackaged experiment  or  any art supplies needed.

~from Dinah Zikes book the Big Bookof Projects , pre-print small continent maps and store in file folders until ready for use

~copy a thumbnail picture of the books that we will be reading and  paste them on one page of a Word document,  print,  cut and  place in little zip loc bags
(as we read the book,  we paste the image right from the bag onto a page in our notebooks)

~in zippered 3 hole binder pencil case place colored pencils to match Montessori continent colors

~police the cards and puzzles and books nightly to make sure no pieces are missing and making sure that the area is clean and ready to go the next day.

Activities for my Visual/Kinesthetic Learners:

We also have a labeled colored file folder in the Montessori colors of each continent.  As we read and discover new people and places, we will be adding pictures to our continent files.  We have a huge tub of National Geographic that we have put aside for just this purpose.  (You can get this magazine free from your local library at the end of the year when they thin out their stock.  Just tell your local librarian that you are interested in any of their discards and you can get great nature, geographic and kids magazines.)

If we had enough wall space I would be mounting  a large map of the world on the wall that is mounted over cork to pin things to…but!  Instead we have smaller maps (continent and world) in our binders (ala Zike)that we will  color to reference a particular place  and a large map under a heavy plastic table cloth on our dining room table.  I think we will be taking small sticker flags and mounting them to toothpicks and with a bit of putty, they will be able to adhere the flag to the correct country.  Note to self…DO NOT LEAVE 3yo ALONE WITH PUTTY!!  haha

For some of the continents and places they visit through books or DVDs we will be coloring a post card or making a mock stamp to put into a pretend passport.  I also have a collection of saint pictures, google images and trading cards of the saints.  Throughout our journey, we will be placing  saints on the map too!

Another thing that I will do is pre-print 3 part Montessori cards (scroll down) about the concept we are studying and cut and laminate and put into a clear container for the kids to experiment on at will…sort of like a learning center. Many of these cards can be found in the files section of a few Montessori Yahoo groups (as seen in the links below).  You can also get a very reasonably priced download from Montessori for Everyone which is located on ebay. Some of which include:

Landform Cards
Cards of the World or from Montessori Share Geography files
The Earth
Earth layer Cards
Parts of a Flag
Historical US Flags  (this is here as a companion activity for our history lessons as well!)

Topics to be covered:

* Sandpaper Globe  (home made)
* Continent Globe
  (home made)

*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Hemispheres
Owl and Mouse free geography download 
The Global Puzzle

* Animals of the World   Atlas (My Sticker Books)
*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Child’s Own Continent

*Jigsaw Puzzle Map of the Child’s Own Continent

* Jigsaw Puzzle Map of Child’s Own Country

* Introduction of the Three Elements

* Land and Water Forms
(in the sandbox! including a little boat to float on the water parts and people and creatures for the land masses)

*  Land and Water Form Cards

(in clear container by Geography area) (also hand out 1/4 size pre-cut green and brown construction paper to make land and water forms into booklet showing that the opposite image of some landforms is a water form)

* Outline Maps
(in folder in Geography area to punch out with large knobbed pins and felt pad  underneath)

* Land and Water Definitions 
    (also the A to Z Geography Book)

* Flags
   (Flag Sticker book)

Our Montessori Flags of the World

* Classified Cards of Flags and Parts of a Flag
(In clear container on Geography Area)

*  List of Countries and Corresponding Continent Outline Map
(laminated and kept with Continent folders)

Presentation notes here: Geography Culture Album

Other ideas:

Last night I went on over to my friend  Map Quest and printed out a map of my neighborhood.  Later today we will be using this map to take a walk(if it is cool enough outside 😉 With baby in stroller and water bottles in hand we will let the map tell us where to go!

Download Google Earth for free and watch the satellite zoom into the continent, state, city or address of your choice!  We visited the Eiffel Tower and the Great Wall of china and grandma’s house today !

We will be getting travel DVD’s from Netflix …I hope that we can find some good ones! The places we visit I we will place small stamps in their passports!

The table will be set at night with painless learning placemats and we will be trying dishes from Whole Foods from the Whole World

Geography Book Basket:

In the Geography Basket for the next few weeks are books that not only cover places on a map, but make things more personal to the children as they learn more about people in other places on the globe including how they eat, dress and what they do with their free time!:
Me On The Map 
Where Do I Live
Maps and Globes

Mapping Penny’s World
As the Crow Flies : A First Book of Maps

Geography from A to Z
Children Just Like Me
Children Just Like Me Sticker Book

Atlas (My Sticker Books)

Considering God’s Creation Student Book (we use a few of these pages in our Geography notebooks the rest are used in our science notebooks)

Homes Around the World

Bread Around the World

Flags of the World stickers

Atlas books on Geography Shelf: (from what we already have on hand)

Readers Digest Atlas of the World

Atlas in the Round

Ultimate Atlas of the World (my ds (10yo) wants me to tell you that he recommends this one as it has a little thumbnail of the continent you are in and it’s place on the globe)

National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers

Fun Projects:

This week and next, the dc  will be making a paper mache globe of the world using a round balloon as a base and painting the continents in the Montessori colors…..Other activities that we will be doing  include making a similar globe by painting a garage sale globe following the instructions here in the geography section (making a Montessori Continents Globe) Montessori_globe_1 and paining another globe and coloring the water blue and the land brown and sprinkling fine sand on the land parts to make a Montessori Land/Water globe (so the child can see and FEEL how much of the earth is water and land).   To marry this into our Catechesis of the Good Shepherd work, I will be adding a little red star to the place where Jesus lived!

Sandpaper_globeI do finally have a digital camera and I will TRY to learn how it works and post pictures! 

I hope this is clear enough.  We will be sharing parts of our journey as we go!  Wish us a safe trip!

This just in….visit Kim at Starry Sky Ranch and see what she is doing with Geography.!  Great ideas Kim!!

Beiing so new at blogging, I have NO IDEA why some of my text is completely underlined in the middle of the post.  If I can figure out how that code works, I will clean that up a bit!
Photo: Greg Olson Children of the World

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