Closer Look: Geography

What is geography? MSN Encarta defines it as:

Geography, science that deals with the distribution and arrangement of all elements of the earth’s surface. The word geography was adopted in the 200s bc by the Greek scholar Eratosthenes and means “earth description.”Geographic study encompasses the environment of the earth’s surface and the relationship of humans to this environment, which includes both physical and cultural geographic features. Physical geographic features include the climate, land and water, and plant and animal life. Cultural geographic features include artificial entities, such as nations, settlements, lines of communication, transportation, buildings, and other modifications of the physical geographic environment. Geographers use economics, history, biology, geology, and mathematics in their studies.

One of our favorite geography series was the Holling C. Holling books. Each book in the series provides an excellent geographic and historical picture of the region. The first book we read, Paddle-to-the Sea, told the story of a young indian boy who carved a little canoe with a figure inside and named him “Paddle to the Sea.” His journey took him all through the Great Lakes and ended in the Atlantic Ocean. Holling C. Holling also wrote, Pagoo, The Tree in the Trail, Minn of the Mississippi and Seabird. All of the books help the reader gain a better geographical and historical understanding of the areas featured.

There are many ways to learn about geography and many resources available to do so. Here are some articles and resources to help you study the world around us and all that Geography entails.


A World of Learning by Barbara Theisen

I’ve never believed that the only way to get an education is to sit at a desk with four walls around you. The world is our classroom and our home – a 41 foot sailboat – takes us there. My husband Tom and I dreamed of sailing around the world before our daughters were even born. Their arrivals only increased our desire to live the “cruising lifestyle” – a way of life that has given us the opportunity for lots of quality and quantity of family time.

Passport to the World – Sue Smith-Heavenrich

When I was a child I wanted desperately to be from anywhere but normal-town USA. China, India, Brazil… they sounded exotic and warm. The food would be spicy and sweet, and I could ride a yak to school. So this September I dug my old, expired passport out of the bottom drawer and walked into the kitchen. “So, how would you like to travel around the world?” I asked.

Over the years Rebecca Rupp has reviewed many good geography resources in Home Education Magazine’s Good Stuff column. Click on the column titles below and then scroll down the pages, past the title feature topics, for the additional, geography-related reviews.

Interview with Sandra Dodd by Emily Subler
They play with maps, draw them, follow them, ask me a hundred questions, but I don’t think they know the scope and definition of ‘geography.’

From Anchorage to Nome by Lisa Amstutz
Studying the annual 1,049 mile Iditarod sled dog race across our northernmost state naturally broadened into studying the history, geography and culture of Alaska.

Disposable Checklists for Unschoolers by Sandra Dodd
Lists are patterns. Lists can take the form of grids, and so a pattern-loving parent might use the globe or a map as a checklist. Where are the fewest traffic lights in your state? This came up at our house last month – we heard that Harding County, in northeastern New Mexico, has not one single traffic light. So we looked on road maps, and population maps, and couldn’t help but see which counties have lots of towns and highway intersections. We thought there might be other states that have a county with no signals, or maybe more than one county. Some states probably don’t. Some states don’t even have counties!


Still more Geography resources can be accessed at HEM’s Guide to Homeschooling Resources.

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