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Geography and Culture Task Cards Review by Dawn Peterson

Amy K. Hilsman
Creek Edge Press
http://www.creekedgepress.com/

Geography and Culture Task Cards is a course that covers geography, climate, habitat, religion, literature and culture for the K-6 student. Homeschool mom Amy Kate Hilsman designed this task card system over ten years ago to help nurture a sense of discovery, investigation, and independence in her own children. These task cards incorporate several elements from the Classical, Charlotte Mason, and Montessori educational philosophies as explained on the Creek Edge Press website:

Classical – The tasks point to key vocabulary that students will use in future years of study.  The tasks encourage students to read, think, and respond.  The research tasks facilitate a habit of reading for detail, preparing the grammar stage student for work in the dialectic stage. 

Charlotte Mason – The tasks rely on narration, in a variety of forms, as a primary means of response to reading and listening. The student encounters meaningful ideas and beautiful expression within the materials chosen for study.

Montessori – The parent prepares a learning environment, and the student engages in research tasks indicated on the cards. While the topics on the cards are specific, the tasks are purposely open-ended to allow for individual investigation and response at the student's pace.
The Geography and Culture course comes with 26 task cards printed on card stock and nestled in a plastic sleeve for the student’s use, as well as a spiral bound booklet for the parent/teacher. The booklet lays out the goals of the course, how to prepare the environment, how to approach the tasks, an extensive resource list, and a breakdown of what each card teaches.
In order to implement the task cards, you’ll need to locate and gather core, reference, and supplemental books. The parent/teacher booklet lists several titles as suggestions, however, one of the strengths of this program is the ability you have to customize it with your own choice of books; particularly those you may already own or can procure from your local library. Next, you’ll need to find a place to keep all the books and materials so that your child can access them. Mrs. Hilsman suggests a dedicated shelf, cabinet, or emptied closet. Task cards should be prominently displayed in this area; I found that an inexpensive bookstand worked well for this purpose. The Creek Edge Press website has a Gallery section with several photos to help you visualize the different ways you can implement this.

Task cards are designed to be completed at the rate of one card per week, but are completely flexible and can fit into whatever time frame works best for your student. Regular oversight and help will be needed for emergent readers, but for independent readers, most of the tasks can be done without assistance and are checked off by the student as they’re completed. The first several cards focus on maps and globes, climate and habitat, and world cultures. Ten cards then cover North America and all the regions of the United States, followed by a few cards which give the student opportunity to study their own state in more depth. Canada, Mexico, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Antarctica all follow next, and the last card wraps the course up with a review. Some examples of the tasks (from different cards) include: read about maps in an atlas, make a notebook page showing the latitude and longitude closest to your location, plan an imaginary trip around Washington D.C., research a variety of people groups throughout the world, trace or copy a map of North America, copy the words of O Canada and decorate with a maple leaf border, read literature selections, and map or summarize your reading. Again, the Creek Edge Press website has several examples of what their task cards consist of, along with very helpful articles which I would encourage you to peruse.

I love that the task cards can be used with books you have in your own library, how user friendly it is, and especially the way in which it fosters the skills of investigation, curiosity and creativity. My children enjoy searching books on the shelf for the information on their cards, working on the various activities and tasks, and reporting back to me what they’ve discovered. It’s a solid grammar stage geography course, but if you want to use it with older students, it would be easy to customize. Permission is given to reproduce pages for use in your own home which is yet another benefit of the course. I highly recommend Geography and Culture Task Cards by Creek Edge Press!

Product Review by Dawn Peterson, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, March, 2012

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