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Discovering Maps and Globes Review by Leah Courtney

Rebecca Stark
Educational Impressions, Inc.
PO Box 377
Franklin Lakes, NJ, 07417-0377

Discovering Maps and Globes is a paperback workbook that provides a geography unit study to introduce students to using maps and globes. It is intended for grades 3-6 and can be purchased at the company website for $11.95.

The workbook pages can be reproduced for all students in a classroom. The pages include activities such as coloring by solving math problems, scrambled words, comprehension questions, charts and graphs to read, word search puzzles, crossword puzzles, drawing, multiple choice, and more. The pages include map and globe activities, activities involving specific continents, and some critical thinking and creative assignments.

There is also a Jeopardy style game for a group of students at the end of the book. The game involves a chart of clues from different categories. These clues are information the students will have learned throughout the geography workbook. Students come up with the correct question to match the clue and earn points for their teams.

At the beginning of the book are a few lessons that can be used as a pretest of sorts, and at the end of the book are a few activities, along with the Jeopardy style game, that can serve as a posttest to see what students have learned. There is an answer key for both the game and all the workbook assignments at the end of the book.

Discovering Maps and Globes is a workbook designed for use in a school classroom. Because of the generous allowance for reproduction, a classroom teacher can purchase one book and use it for the whole class. The book is also easily adapted to use for homeschool. The allowance for reproduction means that homeschoolers can make copies to be used for the whole family, making this a great whole family geography study.

The website gives grades 3-6 as the recommended grade levels for the unit. The book itself gives grades 4-8 as the recommended grade levels. The activities are varied and could easily be adapted for older or younger students, so a family with children of differing ages could do this geography study together.

In our family, I used Discovering Maps and Globes with my younger girls, in grades 4 and 5. The theme of our literature based curriculum this past school year was geography, so this workbook made a nice follow up and extension of what the girls had been learning. I chose not to work through the book in order. Instead, I began by choosing some activities that reviewed what we already had learned and then moved on to some activities that would give them extra practice in using types of maps and reading maps and globes.

Because I could reproduce the pages, it was simple to just copy the pages I needed for both girls. Using the book this way, each child can have a notebook for keeping up with the pages throughout the unit. There were also a few of the map reading activities that I had the girls do together. For those, I didn’t make copies. I just had them look at the workbook and write the answers down on a piece of paper. This wouldn’t work with a large classroom, but for us it was great.

Discovering Maps and Globes has been a good tool for extending geography learning. Some of the workbook pages, I thought, were more useful than others. I especially liked the pages that had the students reading and interpreting maps and parts of maps. For example, there was a weather map that had students using a map key to determine the types of weather expected in different areas. There was a map of US agricultural resources, and students had to use a map key to answer questions about the resources of different areas. There was a historical map depicting slave and free states in 1850. Students had to use the map key to answer questions about the territories.

There were some pages that I didn’t really think were great for learning geography. These activities were geography themed, but they didn’t teach the students anything about geography. For example there was a word game where students were give the word CARTOGRAPHER, and they had to see how many words could be made from the letters. There was also a coloring activity where students had to answer math problems to color a map section by number. There were a few map terms mentioned, but the activity was really more about solving the math problems than about learning geography.

There are some activities with questions or matching phrases that will require you to find information from an outside source. This workbook doesn’t include full maps or source information. You’ll need access to a variety of maps and an atlas or perhaps a dictionary to find the answers. I think it would be nice for the workbook to include a booklist of references that can be used.

Discovering Maps and Globes will be a good accompaniment for a geography unit. It can provide fun and learning activities for students to practice what they’re learning and extend it. Activities that give students practice reading maps and charts are especially good for increasing knowledge of geography. Even though I liked a few of the activities less than others, I think the book as a whole can be a good resource to use as a part of a geography study unit.

—Product Review by Leah Courtney, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2015