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I have been paring back how much school we have been doing since I added a second student and a 2 year old. Because, teaching reading. Do I really need to say more? But it really makes me crazy to completely drop all the subjects off the radar. Soooooo, here are 5 tools I use to teach geography in mere minutes a day.

Five tools for teaching geography without a curriculum

Classically Catholic Memory

Last year, I realized that my daughter was LOVING memorizing poetry. I was also reading about classical education and memorization and decided to (finally) pull the trigger on Classically Catholic Memory. CCM is a Catholic memory program consisting of religion, Latin, math, science, history, timeline, poetry recitation & US document memorization. If you aren’t Catholic, I think Classical Conversations is similar. If you are a Charlotte Mason fan, she isn’t a fan of memorization, but we dovetail our reading and other subjects to go with the memorization and so connections are made and we like it.

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Anywho, the geography portion of CCM is awesome. Over a 4 year cycle, you learn world geography. For each year, they offer a set of (crazy sturdy!) laminated maps with stickers showing major bodies of water, countries and (some) capital cities. One side has the key/stickers and the other side is blank for quizzing and/or tracing.

It is recommended to take 2 weeks for every “week” of material. We take 3 minutes to review that weeks material 3 days a week and once a week we review all places¬†up to that point. MY geographical recognition has greatly improved as well!

Globe

In addition to studying the maps on a daily basis, we keep a globe handy. Any time we read about a place, we look for it on the globe, especially if it’s a near a place we have learned about. If it’s not, we look for where it is in relation to our current geography studies.

Good books

I think I’ve blogged about these before, but I snagged the GREATEST geography books thanks to a tip from another blogger who found a few at a resale shop. I went on an eBay hunt and bought the whole set, sight unseen and have not regretted it EVER. Each book of the Disney Small World Library¬†has a story about the original Mickey Mouse crew visiting a country. In them, you learn about various major features of the country, as well as how people live.

They are not comprehensive geography texts by any means, but they remember the countries and their stories & features far better than with some dry old textbook type book. I’m not sure if they would fall under true living books, but they are good enough for me. I read them as desired, but I would only have to read one a week if I scheduled it out.

Continent boxes

After cleaning out some old trinkets from our travels and collections I used to have, I decided to repurpose some of it for continent boxes. I had several things laying around that worked perfectly:

  • postcards
  • stamps
  • coins
  • bank notes
  • flashcards (animals of the world, geocards, flags, and world landmarks)

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I purchased additional things like coins, stamps, banknotes and postcards off amazon to fill in some holes. I also bought the World Landmarks & World Animals Toobs. I actually just found a set of landmarks that are different than the Toob I previously bought, so I snapped those up to add to our boxes. They have been loving looking through the items and it helps form connections to the places she see and learn about. We hope to travel, but would like to wait until the kids are a little older.

Puzzles & Games

We have a few fun puzzles & games to teach world geography. We play GeoBingo and bought the GeoPuzzle: Europe, which is awesome because each piece is country shaped. Plus, I’ve been wanting to buy Ticket To Ride: Europe for years. Best game EVER!

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So these are the tools I use to teach geography for my elementary students without adding a whole curriculum’s worth of work and time. Because we are learning about a continent so slowly, it’s easy to add a book now & then and explore the continent box while listening to audio books.

If you had the time & desire to go more in depth, you could do lapbooks, note booking pages, or even simply trace/draw the countries.

What are your favorite fun geography tools?

Jen S.

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