True confession: I love geography. I’ve always loved looking at maps and planning out how I would travel to get somewhere. I love looking at pictures of far-away places and dreaming about going and visiting there someday. I think I even planned a trip around the world when I was around 10 years old!
So when I started homeschooling my children, geography was one of the topics that I looked forward to teaching. But then I ran into this conundrum: How do you teach geography in a way that doesn’t bore your children to tears?
How do you take all the interesting things about far-away places and bring them close to home so they matter? How do you not only talk about the fun things, but integrate facts as well? And yet, how do you take something like how big a country is and make it interesting to discover?
Now, you might be wondering why geography is important in the first place. Why should you even bother to study it? Why should it even matter? With all the different subjects and topics to cover as you choose your homeschooling curriculum, why should world geography even make it on the list?
Well, according to National Geographic
Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it.National Geographic .org
I absolutely love this definition! You see, geography isn’t just about maps and rivers. About continents and land formations. About jungles and mountains. About knowing how to find cities and countries on a map. Geography looks at the people who live in different places. Geography looks at where people live, yes, but it also looks at how their environment has impacted how the people in that area live.
And you want to know something amazing? When you start looking at different parts of the world, what can be found there and the people who call that space home, your world starts to get bigger.
Dry as Dust or an Exciting Adventure?
And yet, geography seems to be one of those subjects where everyone seem to agree that knowing about geography is good, but knowing how to teach it and how to communicate it is another matter entirely! Plus, there seems to be this universal thought that geography is dry, stale, and boring. That in order to teach geography you have to pour over a bunch of huge, dusty, old books filled with maps that you need a magnifying glass to read and talking about things that happened centuries ago.
Can I let you in on a secret? Teaching geography doesn’t have to be boring! In fact, it can be fun, engaging, interactive, and interesting! Don’t believe me? Let me show you…
Geography Broadens Your View of the World
Let’s face it, so many times, it’s easy to get caught up in what you see. It’s easy to start thinking about your little corner of the world like that’s all there is. And while your corner of the world does matter and while you should do what you can to make a difference where you are, there’s a big world out there.
You see, when you start to get an idea of how big our world really is, you start to see and appreciate the differences, the vastness of it. You start to see not just land formations and maps, but you start to appreciate cultures and foods, traditions and interesting places to visit.
Yet the question still remains, how do you take this information and work it into your homeschool curriculum? More importantly, how do you make it enjoyable to teach and to learn all these different things about world geography?
The Search Begins
About 6 years ago, I started looking for a world geography curriculum that would talk about countries all over the world. I wanted something fun, something that included crafts and games. Something that didn’t just talk about the capital city and the land formations in the country (although those are important!), but something that would touch on the culture, the people, the animals native to the area. And on top of all that, I wanted a curriculum where I didn’t have to buy anything else to be able to teach it! Well, except for maybe a globe.
And you know what? I couldn’t find it! I couldn’t find the mix that I was looking for. The mix of museums and national parks. The combination of land formations and culture. The ability to try out games and recipes and crafts to not only teach geography, but to create a memorable experience for my children and myself.
Oh, don’t get me wrong, I found a lot of geography curriculums. I found ones that looked at the world from a land formation point of view. I found others that took a country overview perspective. I even found one that tried to teach world geography through literature.
But each and every curriculum I looked at was lacking. There was a blandness to them. It was like all these different curriculums were coming at world geography from this flat perspective.
When I did find one that looked promising, it claimed that everything I needed to teach this curriculum to my children was included. But the reality was the opposite. It was only after purchasing the curriculum that I realized it required me to go out and purchase more materials for me to be able to teach this curriculum to my children effectively. And that drove me nuts!
The World is Round
Did you know the world is round? Yup. I bet you knew that one, right? So, if the world is round, why are we teaching world geography as this flat, stale, one-dimensional subject? Why are we coming at such a rich subject with so many different facets from a flat perspective?
You see, world geography is about so much more than where rivers or oceans or mountains or valleys or peninsulas are located on a physical map. World geography is about the land, yes, but it’s about the people who live in the land. It’s about the animals who call this corner of the world their home. It’s about the places you can visit. It’s about the culture of the people who have built their lives there. It’s about the music and the food, the craftsmanship in the handmade items and the way the land has played a part in all of this.
World geography is anything but boring. It’s anything but flat. The key is knowing how to look at it. The challenge becomes how to take all this fun and interesting and amazing information about all these different corners of our world and share them with your children in ways they will find interesting.
Finally, A Solution!
After all that searching, looking for a curriculum that didn’t seem to exist, I decided to do something crazy. I decided to take my love of geography and my love of research and combine them to write my own world geography curriculum for my kids. And you know what? We had FUN!
We did crafts and games. We learned about the people and the culture. We tried recipes and activities. We learned about land formations and cool places to visit (if we ever do get to take that trip around the world). We even learned things like the capital cities, what currency they use, and how big each country is! And you know the best part of all? They weren’t bored to tears!
We took 2 years and dove into world geography, covering about 1 country each week. It was fantastic! We got to travel all around the world in our imaginations, discovering new things and learning fun and amazing and sometimes bizarre facts about each country we had never realized.
And now, we want to invite you to come along on Adventures Around the World with us!
Did You Know?
For example, did you know that there is a golf course in Sweden that has a special rule you won’t find at any other golf course? The Bjorkliden Arctic Golf Course is the world’s northernmost golf course. While you’re playing your round of golf, if a reindeer moves your ball, you are allowed to move it back without a penalty!
Did you know that there is a country called Vanuatu? It’s located in the South Pacific and the people there are known for their incredible sand art drawings. You can even do a few crafts to try sand art drawings or sand art in a jar to help you appreciate how the artists of Vanuatu use the resources they have.
The country of Botswana in Africa is completely land-locked. And yet, it is home to the largest inland delta on earth, the Okavango Delta, where incredible African wildlife can be seen in huge numbers. On top of this, Botswana is home to the largest continuous expanse of sand on the earth in the Kalahari Sand Dunes!
In Mongolia, there are many people that are nomadic, moving around with their herds of animals. They live in homes called a ger. These circular homes can be taken down in an hour, moved to a new location, and set back up in an hour!
Chile is the longest country in the world. Not only that, but there are several types of hummingbirds found here that cannot be found anywhere else in the world.
Making It Interesting
Do you want to know the best part about our adventures? Approaching world geography from a fun, hands-on, interactive experience worked! I was talking with my children the other day and they started telling me in great detail about one of the very first countries we talked about – over 2 years ago!
You see, we started out studying the countries of Australia and New Zealand and a few island nations in the South Pacific. Vanuatu was one of the very first countries we talked about. Out of the blue, my children started reminding me about this sand art in a jar that we made as part of our Vanuatu study. But the amazing thing to me is they didn’t just remember the art project, they remembered details about the country. They remembered the experience of learning about the country, they remembered facts about the country and the people who lived there.
In making geography interesting, incorporating craft projects, games, recipes, and interactive elements into our study of this tiny island country, it left an impression that lasted far longer than I ever would have thought possible.
(By the way, you can find all the details on how to create this sand art project for yourself by claiming your free Adventures Around the World First Glimpse Guide below! And the sand art project sounds messier than it really is…)
Try It for Yourself
No matter what you’re looking at, it’s one thing to hear about something. It’s one thing to read all about it, but it’s another thing entirely to try it, right?
You see, as my children and I started working through this geography series, I started sharing with a bunch of my friends what we were doing. And they started asking me if I would share this geography curriculum with them. I started realizing that there are a lot of people who want to teach world geography, but find that figuring out where to start is really tricky!
So, why don’t you try it out for yourself? World geography is really fun and interesting, but if you’re not sure how and where to start, it can be frustrating and intimidating! If you want to learn more about our world, the people who call it home, the animals that roam around, and, yes, how big countries are and what their capital cities are, you need to try out this fun, exciting, interactive curriculum.
In fact, you can try it out right now! Claim your free copy of Adventures Around the World First Lesson in the form just below. Or if you want to take a look at all the countries and bundles that are offered, click here to head over to the Inspiration in the Everyday Store. The curriculum doesn’t include the whole world yet, but when you purchase even 1 country packet, I’ll keep you in the loop as new countries are released. Happy Traveling!
- 12 Reasons to Fall in Love with Adventures Around the World
- Travel the World Through Your Imagination: Over 100 Books to Transport You without a Passport
- Epic Travel Adventures for You to Enjoy: Travels with Gannon & Wyatt
- Uncertainty, Intrigue, and Adventure: Around the World in 80 Days
- 10 Fun and Fabulous Activities to Inspire Imagination
Looking for some of the books or materials mentioned on this page?
Click on the photo below to purchase these resources from the Inspiration in the Everyday Store. Clicking on the photo will take you straight to the product page. Click here to see everything available at the store.
Elizabeth Tatham, founder of Inspiration in the Everyday, is a homeschooling momma of 5 who loves helping other homeschooling mommas create a unique homeschooling adventure your kids will love…without the overwhelm! Join in on the journey with 7 simple steps to make your homeschooling day go faster, easier, and with less tears here.