When my boys were younger, we had a map of the world rug on the floor in our dining room.
Everyday, as part of our morning routine, we would hop from one continent to the next, and sing a song. “North America, South America, and Antarctica, too. Europe, Asia, Africa, and don’t forget Australia, Woo!”
Five years later, my youngest still sings it sometimes.
Now, we have a map of the world on the wall and a globe on our desk. My oldest son has completed numerous in-depth continent studies. We all love map work and learning about other parts of the world.
But, despite a consistent focus, the older he gets, the more my youngest is struggling with putting it all together.
For example, he knows that the amazon river is the natural habitat of many of his favorite amphibians and reptiles, but no matter how many times we have talked about it, he cannot remember that it is located in South America. This type of gap is true for most of his geographical knowledge.
The good new is he’s 12. Although he struggles with various learning differences and delays, he has plenty of time to master this subject. This isn’t really that big of a deal.
Except that it is… to him.
Please know, although I was compensated for my time in writing this post, I only share products that genuinely work well for my family, in the hopes they might work for yours as well.
Even with his difficulties, my son loves maps. He loves studying them and he even creates his own sometimes.
When he hears his older brother talking about world events, he wants to know exactly where these things are happening. When we read a history lesson, he immediately wants me to point out where it occurred on the map.
Maps ground him. They make learning about the world real for him and allow tactile access to learning.
Seeing this, I decided to try a new approach to geography with him this year. I thought that if we could make some of the map learning stick, he would feel more confident in other areas as well – especially history and world culture studies.
I have already shared how much we adore Beautiful Feet Books and how learning history through stories has made a significant impact in my sweet boy’s overall application and retention. We have used Beautiful Feet for history from the very beginning, before I ever even thought of blogging and before we were aware of any learning differences.
Needless to say, when I discovered that Beautiful Feet also offered a Geography curriculum, I knew it would be a great fit for us.
Learning Geography Through Literature With Beautiful Feet Books
Beautiful Feet Books has a wide variety of options available for literature rich learning. They offer courses for the elementary years all the way through high school.
The Geography Through Literature course takes a similar approach to many of the history courses we have completed in the past (which is exactly why I wanted to try it). It features four classic, beautifully illustrated, Caldecott Honor Holling classics. Each book is paired with its own gorgeous, antique-looking, 24″ by 18″ card stock map.
While reading the book, the learner labels and colors the countries, states, cities, bodies of water and national landmarks surrounding the story’s setting.
The course also features a comprehensive study guide that includes discussion questions, web links, vocabulary and other book recommendations (making it user-friendly and super easy on mom!). It is a semester-long study targeted for students in 3rd – 7th grade, although I think the books are universally appealing, and the maps appropriate for all ages. My high-schooler joined us for some of the map work and enjoyed it.
Why Beautiful Feet’s Approach Works So Well For Us
Hands-On and Interactive
Completing a map study after each reading passage allows my son to really participate in the learning and caters to his natural learning style (hands-on and as tactile as possible). Additionally, the discussion questions are thoughtful and interactive, not just a quick check for understanding. My son is engaged and excited as we read and learn.
Flexible Schedule and Approach
Although technically this is a semester long course, the learning is set-up to be as slow or as fast as you like. When my son was fascinated by the Paddle to the Sea story, we did geography every day, rather than once a week. When he wasn’t feeling well and didn’t have it in him to work on the maps, we skipped a week or two and came back to the learning once he was healed. The Geography Through Literature course is completely flexible in its timing and sequence.
I have said this before about Beautiful Feet Books and the same is true for this course – It is beautiful.
The books have alluring and realistic illustrations that my son and I love. The maps are excellent quality and have an antique look that make them more like art than a kids map project. This attention to detail and quality makes the course exceptional.
Most importantly, I find this multi-faceted approach allows my son to retain the information he is learning much more effectively than in other studies. Because he is learning details about a location through the story and then working on the map, he is able to better visualize and retain the geographical knowledge he desires.
Beautiful Feet Books continue to be a wonderful option for us. The Geography Through Literature course inspired us to learn together, dream big, and allowed my son to feel a sense of confidence in his understanding of the world. I cannot recommend it highly enough.
Interested in trying Beautiful Feet Books with your family?
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Shawna Wingert is a former training and development professional turned education specialist, and has homeschooled her two children for the last ten years.Shawna has written four books about homeschooling unique learners and has been featured in homeschooling discussions on Today.com, The Mighty, Simple Homeschool, My Little Poppies and Raising Lifelong Leaners.
You can find her online here at DifferentByDesignLearning.com.