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Know Your Map Skills Geography Centers, Grades 3-4 Review by Jennifer Loucks

Weekly Reader Publishing
800-446-3355
3001 Cindel Drive
Delran, NJ 08075
http://www.weeklyreader.com/

Geography. . . one of my favorite oft-neglected subjects. Here's an easy way to informally cover both geography skills and information with ready-to-assemble geography centers.

I remember having centers in fourth grade: if we finished assignments early, we could visit the center and spend a few minutes following instructions to learn something interesting and different. It was self-contained, with instructions and mimeographs inside a folder. Well, this workbook contains everything you need to make 10 geography centers; just add folders, scissors, and tape or glue. The topics are: North America Basics; Cardinal and Immediate Directions; Map Symbols and Keys; Landforms; Map Scale; Map Grid; World Landmarks; Longitude and Latitude; Poles, Equator and Hemisphere; and World Animals. Each center has a color cover to glue on the front of your folder. Inside, you put instructions, game pieces or questions, and an answer key, and worksheets to fill out (you need to make copies of these). There's also a reproducible chart to record which centers each child has completed, and two cumulative review worksheets.

Here's an example of a center activity. "How Far Is It?" has students practice using a map scale with a map of North America that has several cities marked. Six cards ask the distances between cities, such as "About how far is it from New York City to Toronto?" and students use a separate scale, like a ruler, to circle the correct answer on their worksheet. They can then check their work with the answer key.

How can homeschoolers use these centers? Students could use them, like in classrooms, as quiet activities when their assignments are done. More relaxed homeschoolers could keep them available at all times for informal and engaging learning that can happen any time. I like the colorful, fun activities, and the fact that kids can work independently on them. The centers are simple to assemble (why not have your kids do it?). Children will enjoy the variety, and you'll enjoy knowing they're learning geography in a fun, relaxed way.

Product review by Jennifer Loucks, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2009

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