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A Child's Geography, Volume 1 - Explore His Earth Review by Donna Campos

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

A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth is the first volume in a geography series by Ann Voskamp. It is a glossy soft cover book of 168 pages with a CD-ROM attached in the back. Designed to delight all ages, the book is ideal for first through sixth grades, whether or not you fully use a classical approach to homeschooling. Chapters in the book are referenced as "living book" chapters and include an aspect of the earth, narration prompts, practical suggestions for Christian service, reading lists, two optional activities, and notebooking directions. The CD-rom includes copy work pages, postcard templates, maps that correspond with the activities in the book, a puzzle, and Review Tests--all ready for printing in PDF format. The copy work includes definitions, Scripture, hymns, and poetry, with blank pages available for older or younger students, each with or without space for artwork, for a total of four printable pages for students to fill in. Additional pages include and readings to be used for copy work, postcard templates, a puzzle, maps, and review tests organized by chapter. Topics covered include Lower and Upper Atmospheres, Continents, Oceans, Weather, Earth Structure, Plate Tectonics, Earthquakes & Volcanoes, and Latitude and Longitude.

Flexibility is evident in the scheduling options that are provided. The curriculum can be utilized with a one chapter per week format, one chapter every two weeks, or other various time frames that will work for your home school, making this curriculum a one-semester or full-year curriculum. Scriptural references are mingled throughout with entirely God based presentations of earth's creation and existence.

A one-page Introduction ("Travel Thoughts") draws the reader in to this curriculum with a contagious excitement about exploring God's creation. The author consistently worships our Creator and is reverent in every aspect. I am absolutely thrilled with this geography curriculum, but not only as a geography curriculum--although it is excellent. The interwoven message that calls us to be Christ's hands and heart to the world has sold me as no other homeschool material has previously. Basic information for many organizations (e.g., Habitat for Humanity, International Meteor Organization, Answers in Genesis, Operation Blessing: Living Waters Project, Salvation Army, Mercy Ships, Trans-World Radio, and more) is offered to enable families to be the hands of Christ.

Charlotte Mason-style narration is used in the text, with prompts efficiently placed within chapters to guide parent/teachers in implementing narration activities, even if they have never used narration before. As students move through each chapter, they complete "postcards" as a means of solidifying information, and these provide a tangible record for reference as well. The provided "memory joggers" are awesome little triggers for getting children to share what they have learned, and they were incredibly helpful in getting our son to recall information. We found we needed the memory joggers less often as we progressed through the book. The book also presents creative ways to remember geographical details. Even I will now remember the locations of Lake Victoria and Somalia because of a reference to a zebra's face. Support material also includes explanations of radio waves, oceanic tides, climate, plate tectonics, and cartography, making this curriculum far more than a geography course. The "further explorations" book list is helpful for library use, and the instructions for the various "Too-Fun-to-Resist Excursions" are specific and helpful and use household supplies usually immediately available for use, making planning incredibly simple. The author even includes Greek and Latin root word explanations quite regularly, offering ideal lead-ins for additional language arts research, if desired.

I struggled to find anything I disliked about this book. I finally noted that sea temperatures were listed in only Celsius, I would have preferred Fahrenheit in addition to Celsius. Also, if your family is on the fence regarding global warming and ozone damage, be aware that the curriculum encourages readers not to make "bad ozone" because it hurts people, crops, and every living thing in God's world. The topic is handled beautifully in regard to caring for God's world, with no argumentative attitude or judgmental leaning. A useful addition would be more suggestions for using the postcards. For instance, sending the cards to extended family members or older siblings no longer at home would be a phenomenal way for children to share what they have learned. We have our younger children sending cards to our oldest, who is away attending a university. She keeps them and returns them to us at home so that they can be used for review. Finally, be aware that the book lists in each chapter offer a variety of perspectives, including evolution, so parents must be diligent when choosing supplemental material.

We love this book and are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the second volume, which explores six nations of the Holy Land. The mission emphasis has affected our children in ways that will continue long after the curriculum is completed. A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth leaves you in complete awe of God and His creation, and well educated as to a scientific understanding of His world.

Product review by: Donna Campos, Senior Product Reviewer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, July, 2008

I just received one of the neatest books in the mail that I've seen for awhile"A Child's Geography by Ann Voskamp. Why am I so impressed with this book? Well, it's because I have looked high and low for a geography book that I can actually work with, one that will fit our schooling schedule, and one that is interesting and fun. This book meets all of those criteria and more.

A Child's Geography is written in a Charlotte Mason-style. Though I never actually set out to find Charlotte Mason-style books, I always find myself extremely attracted to them when I do find them! Here are some of the things that impress me about A Child's Geography:

  • It is set up to be used two days per week (you could do it in one but it would either take a lot of time or you would have to just pick and choose what you want to do).
  • It is written in a personal style - when reading it, you feel as though the author is talking to you personally.
  • Each reading selection contains "Tell the folks at home all about it!" sections (which are prompts for the children to share what they have learned so far) and "Postcard Home"  sections (which are "Notebooking" activities that your children do on oversized postcards).
  • After each reading selection, there is another section called "Reaching Out to His World." These sections talk about ways that we, as Christians, can be praying for and helping those in the world who are less fortunate than ourselves.
  • Book lists for extra reading are included in each lesson.
  • Each lesson also contains two "Too-Fun-to-Resist Excursions," which are easy-to-do activities that relate to the lesson and require very little preparation or materials, but are fun and effective learning tools

In addition to all of that, the E-Book also comes with several extra pages. These include 27 pages of copywork activities that directly relate to the lessons in the book, 4 styles of copywork templates (for older and younger students, with or without sections for drawing), 5 different postcard templates (to be used with the Notebooking activities), 2 review tests, and more!

If you are in search of a geography book that is easy to work with, can be used with multiple age groups, and approaches geography from a Christian perspective, then I'm sure you'll be impressed and pleased with A Child's Geography.

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