Learning doesn't happen in neat little boxes! Find out how to incorporate geography across the subjects you teach for more connected learning.
For many of us who grew up in the public school system, we went to separate classes like language arts, science, social studies, and art.
Learning was compartmentalized into neat little boxes. It might have worked great for organizing students in a school, but there's a major flaw in the effectiveness of this approach educationally. All of these different subjects are connected.
Life and learning simply don’t fit into neat little boxes.
No More Boxes
So often kids in the system aren't taught according to their personal developmental levels or how they learn best. It's just not possible when you have twenty (or more) kids in the same class. They aren't taught how to learn... just what to learn.
One of the best things about homeschooling is that we get to rethink education.
We can take advantage of the fact that subjects don't fit into neat little boxes. Not only will this help our students learn valuable thinking skills, it can also save time in our school day when we discover how to incorporate a more connected approach.
Teaching Geography: An Example
The study of geography goes beyond where a place is found on a map! Within the study of geography we learn about cultures and history. We discover how physical geography affects events and the "plots" of real-life stories.
Students can even create art while learning it and write stories set in it.
Geography is the perfect subject to help your children see how connected learning really is.
Our friends at Geomatters understand this idea and have a variety of resources that help make geography relevant, fun, and engaging. They create tools and curriculum for teaching kids this way. That's why we've teamed up to share ways you can incorporate geography into other subjects.
In the Trail Guide to Learning series, students study about the exploration of America beginning with a unit on Columbus. We've put together a Geography Activity Pack with Geomatters to use alongside the following activities so you can see an example of what it might look like for you to incorporate geography into your curriculum and studies.
Try Unit 1 (the first six weeks) of Paths of Exploration along with all the resources you need to complete the unit. Every subject is covered with this engaging program except for math. Your students will see the path of Columbus through multidisciplinary eyes, but always with the same goal: to make learning enjoyable, memorable, and motivating.
Activity 1: Compasses
Subjects: Geography, history, and science
When Columbus "sailed the ocean blue," navigation of the seas looked very different than today. The invention of the magnetic compass played a big role in his ability to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Try these compass activities with your kids:
- At the library or on the internet, learn more about navigation and compasses. If your kids enjoy learning about navigation, consider reading Carry On, Mr. Bowditch as a family.
- Use a compass while taking a walk around your neighborhood or at a local park.
- Label a compass with the directions of north, south, east, and west. Older students can add northwest, southwest, northeast, and southeast. (Page is provided in the activity bundle.)
- Make a compass. (Instructions are provided in the activity bundle.)
Activity 2: Design a Rug
Subjects: Geography, history, culture studies, art
Columbus was an explorer. A study of his life often includes a look at other explorers as well. These adventurous men would often visit bazaars—markets held in open areas—to find items like food, spices, clothing and jewelry. In North Africa many local people often sold their handmade cloth and rugs. These textiles often have beautiful, geometric designs.
Using the pages provided in the activity pack, younger students can color a rug while older students can design their own.
Activity 3: Cook a Dish from Spain
Subjects: Geography, culture studies, cooking (home economics/life skills)
Columbus was born in Italy, but he was sent out by King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella of Spain. A really fun part of studying geography is understanding the culture of different places around the world—and food is a BIG part of cultural studies. Because of this, it's the perfect time to cook a dish from Spain! We've provided a recipe from Eat Your Way Around the World in the activity pack.
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A Learning Adventure
We have the chance to do this education thing differently with our kids. Let's stop thinking about learning as separate subjects that fit into nice, neat little boxes. If we want our kids to be out-of-the-box thinkers, then we need to start teaching that way! Geography is the perfect place to start.