Monday, September 15, 2008

How We Study Geography

I feel strongly that my children should be familiar with and comfortable in our world, at home and abroad. And that means studying languages, history, and--geography.
The approach I am taking with Geography is to create as many "hooks" for them to hang information on as I can. That means giving meaning to names and places, not just showing them outlines on a map. I have started by taking advantage of my own family's globe-trotting adventures. I tell the children stories about when I was growing up, about erupting volcanoes in Guatemala, herds of llamas in Bolivia, or operas in Vienna. I tell them about my missionary experiences in Japan, and archeological adventures in Jordan. The stories make these places real, places our family is connected to. What if you haven't lived or travelled overseas yourself? There are plenty of opportunities for building meaningful ties with places you haven't been to yourself. I have a large world map on the wall in our dining room, and a globe and several continent puzzles. I like to point out countries and discuss things that connect us to them: Denmark is where many of Grandpa C's ancestors came from, Scottland is where cousin E. was born, Grandpa J. used to fly to Qatar for work. Do you know someone doing missionary work in Russia? Are you or your church involved in sending humanitarian supplies to Africa? Does your child have a friend who was adopted from Vietnam? There are all kinds of ways to make connections. My kids aren't old enough yet to be familiar with many historic/scientific/sports figures, but this is another route that would work well: if you're child likes soccer, talk about where the players are from, or about the countries playing in the World Cup; if you're learning about Einstein, talk about Germany. Or, you could learn where your favorite foods originated--where did potatoes come from? How about bananas, peaches, chocolate? We have started putting color-coded tags on our map--for example, pink tags for places our ancestors came from. My hope is that, over time, my children will feel that they know the world and its people--their extended community.

1 comment:

Violin Mom said...

This sounds like an excellent plan. It is amazing the conversations that can arise through putting a world map on the wall at their eye level. The Olympics created a good connection to the countries, too. Especially athletes who won gold medals, like the runners from Jamaica. Oh - and my son was adopted from Vietnam (and my daughter from South Korea) so those were the countries they were able to locate first.

Have a blessed week!