The Homeschool Minute ~ Geography on the Go

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Geography on the Go
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Gena Suarez

Hey Mama,


With all the traveling we do, the kids should have soaked up a lot of geography by osmosis. There’s something about hiking or driving up a mountain to show you how tall mountains can be or experiencing the ocean by running on the beach and into the waves. And what about demonstrating climate change by explaining why your hair doubles in size when it’s humid. 

Try these ideas for teaching geography from the magazine and adapt some of them for your next road trip: 

Geography: You’d Be Lost Without It” – Maggie S. Hogan 

Getting Started in Geography” – Alicia Z. Klepeis 

Now here’s a reminder because it’s easy sometimes to forget: 

Daughter of the King, He loves you. He will never leave you. He has given you the “Mama heart” you have, for good reason. Keep walking. It’s all for a reason, a beautiful purpose. None of this is random, and at some point we will see His perfect plan. It is good. 

Today is good because He is your whole life. And He will maintain what He has built. His hand is on your head. 


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Relational Homeschooling    

Diana Waring

Dear Friends,

Oh, what a glorious thing it is to finally feel the warmth of spring, to hear the songs of birds, and to see tulips and daffodils blooming! I hope that you are taking advantage of the freshness of this season to GO OUTSIDE with your kids!! Have fun, plant some seeds, fly kites, build a bird feeder … 


And, if you feel like having an academic adventure, help your kids experience geography by going outside


When you think of geography in terms of an academic subject, what picture comes to your mind? For me, I envision a slightly dusty library with dust motes drifting through sunlight. Can you see it too? There sits a student with an open book, trying desperately to stay awake. Outside, the trees are budding, birds are performing aerial aerobics, and the warm sun and blue sky together invite children and adults to run (or stroll) through the grass. But our student is bound to a desk and a book. Poor thing … 


What if we change the picture? Imagine a student who is told that, today, geography is going to be experienced in the great outdoors. For elementary age children, the task may be to learn how to recognize north, south, east, and west from the clues given by nature–like the rising and setting of the sun, shadows, and moss on trees. For middle school children, the mission is to create a large scale version of your state, using items from the yard to indicate the boundaries (your garden hose would do a great job of defining a boundary), the state capital, major cities, and any important geographic features of the area. For high school students, their job outside is to create a giant map of North and South America (to scale), with major cities, major river systems, mountain ranges, and large deserts included. Use whatever materials from inside or outside that will bring the map to life. Wow! Don’t you want to be one of THESE students?? 


So, let’s consider what happens in this second scenario. Learning comes to LIFE as students have a chance to play, to explore, to go outside, to create. Rather than a stuffy subject, break the mold and let your kids discover the delight and fun of subjects … simply by opening the door. 


By the way, another GREAT way to teach geography is in the kitchen. Food works almost as well as going outside! 


Remember, stay relational. 




P.S. If you aren’t yet receiving my monthly newsletter, this would be a great time to start. I am going to be sharing tips each month of ways to bring FUN back into your homeschool. Sign up on my home page: today!



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The Art of Reading


Adam Andrews

Talisman, Temple or Toolbox?
Making Careful Curriculum Choices


Most people choose a homeschool curriculum because they are searching for one of three things: a talisman, a temple, or a toolbox. I want to explain what these images mean, and which one you should use in making curriculum choices this year.


A talisman?


A talisman is an object supposed to exert magical powers on behalf of its bearer. The word can be applied to anything we use to bring us good luck or success as if by magic.


Sound familiar? Many of us search catalogs, websites and homeschool conventions in hopes of finding a secret technique, a magical product or a curriculum that will fix all of the shortcomings in our homeschool.


I have some sobering news: You will not find a talisman in the latest catalog this year. No miracle cures for your homeschool await you at the convention hall. This is most likely because your homeschool isn’t sick! There are no magic fixes on the hottest new website–because your homeschool most likely isn’t broken!  Homeschooling is not magic, and it will never look perfect. Your homeschool probably looks similar to everyone else’s–just regular families doing their best. Good for you. Keep it up as best you can, and do not worry about fixing what isn’t broken.  


A temple?


Some of us have a darker reason for the curriculum search. We’re not after information or healing or fixing; we’re after salvation.  By adopting the philosophies and methods of well-known leaders, we hope to create an identity for ourselves; by acquiring the right materials and techniques, we strive to become better parents, better teachers and better people–not so that our kids will benefit, but so that we will feel successful. The homeschool world becomes a temple, and our efforts to define ourselves by our curriculum choices become incense offered to a god–the god of self-improvement and self-salvation. 


In truth, we are mistaken. There is no God but one, and He does not treat us according to our works. Good or bad, our works do not save us. Good or bad, our choices do not define us. Homeschooler or public schooler, success or failure, our priorities and histories count as nothing toward our real identity. We already have all we need in this area because of the love of Jesus.


Do not come to homeschooling as to a temple. There is no salvation in the exhibit hall.


A toolbox?


Some of us have made enough mistakes to see the folly of the talisman approach. We know better than to seek a quick fix.  Some of us, too, have been forced to face ourselves as the self-worshipers that we really are. We know better than to seek an identity for ourselves through activities, priorities and behavior. Having been disabused of these false assumptions, we are free to use homeschool resources in the best possible way–as a toolbox. 


For all of the things you can’t find at a convention, in a catalog or on a website, there are some very powerful things you can find: resources. The curriculum developers that serve homeschool parents through these channels can help you raise your own children to educated maturity. Textbooks, materials, ideas, methods, frameworks, philosophies–you can find them in abundance at every convention, in every catalog and on every website.  


Which ones should you choose?


Once you give up searching for a talisman or a temple, you may find that your choice of tools matters less than you thought it did. This is because the homeschool parent who is free to be herself is free to experiment. Since she knows that her children live in her house by the will of God and are therefore getting exactly what they need, she has the freedom to pick up a tool and give it a try. If it works, great. If it doesn’t, she can try something else. There is nothing riding on it! Since the outcome doesn’t determine her identity, she can hardly lose.


You may also find that the resources you discover in this way are most effective when used as their creators intended. Pressing them into service as talismans distorts their real purpose. They were meant to be tools, nothing more. 


Here’s hoping that this year’s curriculum search will result in a toolbox full to bursting with great resources. Here’s hoping that you will find peace, success and identity as well–not in your curriculum choices, but in the unconditional love of God.






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We make geography fun at! Our Everyday Explorers series is perfect for bite-sized geography lessons (and can be a great place to find field trip ideas, too!). In our month-long unit studies, we’ve traveled through all of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand by exploring one state or territory each month, and we’ve explored sixteen of the fifty United States (more to come). Join us and discover the world from the comfort of home-or join us in an RV and check out some of the places featured!


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