"...the reason geography is so valuable
is because it gives an opportunity to furnish the mind with ideas,
and to add pictures to the imagination.
That's what makes geography so educational.
from Volume 1: Home Education by Charlotte Mason
Topical CM Series
One of my favourite parts about planning a trip is digging out our maps, spreading them out over our table, and letting our eyes travel over the roads, rivers, national parks, and dot-towns scattered through the area we are planning to visit. Those names, dots, and lines mean something and I find myself wondering what the people are like, how they live and work, and how the local landscape looks and feels. Markings on a map cannot show us these things. But once our imagination takes hold of the pictures in our minds eye and in our experiences, those markings suddenly have meaning, including (but not limited to) where they are positioned on a map.
The geography series 'Visits To...' presented by Simply Charlotte Mason, is a geographical travel guide for families using maps and living books. It is designed to accommodate all ages so a family can learn together. When I had all three children homeschooling, our days were split into learning together times and learning independently times. Now, with just one daughter homeschooling, our days are split into personal tutoring time with me and her independent study time. As this series is new to us I began this book with her to help her get into the habit of following the guide and setting out of her maps and narrations in her notebook. Now she has the framework in place, she can complete the mapwork, narrations, and literature readings independently.
We are currently working through the Visits to South & Central America & Australia. This particular guide loosely connects with our modern time period history studies and some Aussie literature we are reading together.
Each section begins with some basic map labelling work and culminates in drawing your own complete map of the area being focussed on. A Meet the Families section is where you can meet families living in a country and learn about their work, lifestyles, and homelife through beautiful photo's and biographical sketches, followed up by discussion and narration. This combination of written biography and photo's assists young children and non-readers in igniting their own imaginations with the written word. Woven through these activities in a selection of living books to complement and expand on what is being introduced through the maps, photo's, short biographical sketches, and narrations. Books are listed for children ages 6-8 and for children aged 4-17. We are currently reading through Kon-Tiki by Thor Heyerdahl.
How We Are Using 'Visits To...'
The guide book is set out in an orderly and straightforward manner and can be a pick-up-and-go book if followed as laid out. I have tweaked it a little to suit our particular needs. My daughter is skipping the basic map labelling activities. Instead we look at the map in our visual atlas of the world and then she moves to the draw your own map section. Sometimes she follows the directions as written, sometimes I get her to add in some extra geographical or political features. I am encouraging her to experiment with different techniques for making her maps beautiful, like water colour, symbols, pen and ink line drawings.
Our week with Geography looks something like this:
~ Day 1 (Monday) - read Kon-Tiki and give an oral narration
~ Day 2 (Tuesday) - Complete the 'Meet the Families' section
add narrations to Geography notebook
~ Day 3 (Thursday) - Complete map work in Geography notebook
add notes to the Statistics Chart for each country visited
I think these 'Visits To...' series of geography guidebooks would suit homeschooling families who like to work together, for older students who appreciate having a framework and format to follow to mark their independent progress, and those new to the ideas of Charlotte Mason but feel like they need something concrete to help them find their feet while the begin implementing principles as they continue to learn and grow.
To learn more about Charlotte Mason's ideas of geography read here.