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A Child's Geography, Volume 2 - Explore the Holy Land Review by Heidi Strawser

Ann Voskamp & Tonia Peckover
Bramley Books (a division of Knowledge Quest, Inc.)
P.O. Box 789
Boring, OR 97009

Much like its predecessor, Explore His Earth - Volume 1 of A Child's Geography, Volume 2 - Explore the Holy Land is an excellent geography resource and one that I would highly recommend. This book is divided into 16 chapters, covering 6 Middle Eastern countries (Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan). Various scheduling options are recommended to spread this course out over an entire school year.

Each chapter of A Child's Geography, Volume 2 is divided into several sections:

  • The readings - these may be read all at once, or divided into two sections, they may be read aloud to younger students and older students can easily read them on their own. They are written in a personal style, making you feel as if the author is speaking to you personally. To enhance the readings, having an atlas and/or globe handy is a good idea.
  • Field Notes - these are narration prompts and are just suggestions to get your child talking about what they have learned.
  • Travel Logs - these are the Notebooking activities and are suggested to be placed in a 3-ring binder, in plastic sheet protectors. For each country, your child will be encouraged to draw a map of the country (outline maps are included on the accompanying CD-ROM) and label cities, landmarks, etc. that have been discussed in the chapter. On the back of each map, they will be recording special things that stood out for them during the lessons.
  • Bring it Home - these are great ideas for bringing each country's culture into your home; they include things such as music, art, reading, poetry, and recipes (some web addresses are given for further ideas, etc.).
  • Prayer Walk - these are included at the end of each section of study on a particular country; they are written as a prayer and include specific requests pertaining to that particular country.

Also included with A Child's Geography, Volume 2 are extra downloadable pages. On these pages, you will find more resources to help make Explore the Holy Land even more memorable. These include copywork passages that directly relate to the studies, 4 different copywork templates, 4 travel log templates and a travel log cover sheet, maps of the Middle Eastern countries (both labeled and unlabeled versions), recipes from the Holy Land, and review tests (or quizzes) for each of the 16 chapters of the book.

I am every bit as impressed with Volume 2 as I am with Volume 1. I hope there are several more installments in the series! These books are great for working with multiple ages, and they will easily fit into any homeschooling schedule.

Product review by: Heidi Strawser, TOS E-Book Specialist, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2008.

A Child's Geography: Explore the Holy Land takes your child on an exciting journey through the six countries of Turkey, Israel, Egypt, Iraq, Saudi Arabia, and Jordan. It's written in a Charlotte Mason style with an engaging, conversational approach. Intended for children ages 4 and up, it's designed to be read aloud to eager ears, but it can be read independently as well.

A Child's Geography: Explore the Holy Land can be used throughout a regular school year or spread out over a longer period of time if so desired. The authors suggest using an atlas and/or globe to accompany your reading. In this reviewer's opinion, you'll want to be sure the atlas gives good detail of the countries themselves if you choose to do any of the map work. (Our Illustrated World Atlas wasn't sufficient.) There are optional book suggestions in each chapter, and most can be obtained from your local library. If you choose to have your child do mapping or any of the other great suggestions in the book, you'll also need one three-ring binder per child.

The website gives this overview: "Over the course of 16 chapters and nearly 200 pages of text, explore six Middle Eastern countries with vivid scenes and engaging text of a 'living book,' Field Notes (narration prompts), Travel Logs (notebooking and mapping activities), Bringing It Home (suggestions that focus on art, music, poetry and food of each country) and Prayer Walk for each country."

The narration prompts are optional and can serve as a springboard to get your child talking or as a sort of summary of what was just read. There are several questions that pertain to each section and can be tailored to the child's ability. The author writes on page 5, "We have offered the prompts to stimulate their memories--but these are not mandatory! Let your child talk about what captured his or her imagination. You may be surprised at what they've learned!"

At the end of each chapter section, your child can draw a map of the country you're reading about and label cities, landmarks, and unique places discussed along the way. If you plan to incorporate any of the suggested books, you may want to check them out ahead of time in order to have them available when needed. There are a few simple activities suggested at the end of each chapter, such as making Turkish tea or creating a bas-relief sculpture with clay. Again, these are all optional, and even if you decide to tackle them all, they are very doable and require very little prep time.

After each country has been covered in full, there is a "Prayer Walk" to finish off your tour--a compilation of prayer requests related to the region so that you and your children can pray specifically and effectively for the people who live there.

Finally, in the back of the book, there is a handy appendix of definitions broken down by chapter. So when you come across an unfamiliar word, you can easily locate the meaning without having to drag out the dictionary--a very nice feature for oral reading!

My children, ages 8 and 6, have really enjoyed our times on the couch together reading this book. We have all learned so much about these places, and it's been fun to discover them together! The authors write as though you are right there, a traveler exploring an amazing land! The text is engaging and very descriptive, encouraging use of the imagination to see, smell, taste, hear, and touch--just as a traveler or a geographer would do. It kept our interest and was anything but dull or boring! The website states, "If you want your learners to remember what they learn, wrap the knowledge up in feelings they can relate to. Instead of reading emotionless textbooks, read living books with language that dances. And your learners--and you--will remember long after the book is returned to its shelf! Simply put: we love, remember, and retain stories." This book accomplishes this mission. It's easy to forget long lists of cities and meaningless "facts" about a geographical area, but when it's approached as though you're climbing atop a camel to tour the Saudi Arabian desert, or floating on a pretend "magic carpet" being whisked over a bustling Turkish marketplace, geography becomes memorable and intriguing!

In reading A Childs Geography: Explore the Holy Land, we discovered all kinds of fun things, such as what fairy chimneys are and what they were used for in the time of the early church, how crops grow and thrive in the harsh Israeli desert, why the Dead Sea is so salty and what it would be like to take a swim in it, and much more!

While the book was very enjoyable to read aloud, there were some grammatical errors/typos that made oral reading a bit choppy whenever they were encountered. Despite these few instances, the book was very well written overall. I reviewed the spiral-bound book with black-and-white photos, and with a few exceptions, the photos are of good quality. Because I prefer to see the places and cultures in full color, I checked out a few library books of each region studied, which was easy enough to do. However, a full-color version of the book is also available for purchase.

I highly recommend this book! My children's understanding of the Holy Land has grown, and God's glory through His creation is unmistakably reflected through the pages of this book.

Product review by: Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July 2007.