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Integrating Geography - Geography is Everywhere!

Geography is a subject that is easy to teach and fun to study. All you need is a good atlas, some simple outline maps, and whatever curriculum you are already using for history and science. Science? If you're thinking there may be an error here, let me set you straight - yes, science! You see, geography is much more than simply knowing where a place is located on a map or memorizing states and capitals.

Let's take a look at the definition as stated by the National Geographic Society:

Geography: A knowledge of place names, location of cultural and physical features, distribution and patterns of languages, religions and physical phenomena, such as tectonic activity, land form, climate, bodies of water, soils and flora and fauna. The changes in places and areas through time, including how people have modified the environment. Cartographers' tools, such as maps, instruments, graphs and statistics, are also a part of geography.

Since the study of geography has so many facets you can easily integrate it into your current curriculum. When studying plate tectonics, erosion, volcanoes or weather in science, pull out an outline map and let your student depict the details of what you are learning on it. Weather maps are interesting project to develop and so are see-through layered maps, made with clear plastic overhead projector sheets. Layer each sheet on top of the next exposing a different theme. It's great fun to make a salt dough map of the area you are studying in history.

Outline maps provide practical hands-on learning experiences for your students. Here are just few of many ideas to get you started:

  • Draw explorer's maps
  • Record Biblical events on a map of Israel or the Middle East.
  • Depict world empires on maps of Europe, Ancient Civilizations, etc.

Use maps whenever possible. From making vacation plans to reading the newspaper or watching the evening news there are always opportunities to look up a place in an atlas. Seeing the place depicted on a map often improves the understanding of the event about which you are learning. Ask questions of your students to develop their skills of observation and their ability to draw conclusions. Do the physical features of the place play any role in the news event reported? What countries (or states) border the one in question? What do you suppose is the main source of water or this community? Label them on your map.

Here are some important helpful hints to make adding a mapping assignment to your school day beneficial.

  • Make sure your atlas is adequate and appropriate for the student's level and the assignment given. Does your student know how to use the atlas? A quick lesson will help alleviate frustration. Often good information on using the atlas is in the front of the atlas itself.)
  • Use color coding with colored pencil, or colored pens to help clarify ages of history types of mineral deposits, elevations in physical geography, etc.
  • Sit with your student the first few times and encourage him with your help and direction.
  • Allow plenty of time to get the job done right.
  • Show off your student's maps whenever possible and praise him for his efforts.

Using the National Geographic Society definition of geography to enlighten your understanding of geography, challenge yourself to find creative "geography moments" throughout the school day. Your students will have and edge in understanding world affairs as they develop a fuller knowledge of geography.

Cindy Wiggers wears many hats including that of homemaker, author, publisher, and motivational speaker. As a veteran homeschool parent of three children, including two college graduates, she knows that of which she speaks. By developing flexible, easy to use materials Cindy has given the homeschool community a map to the joyous freedom that home educating was intended to be. You can check out her other articles and products at

Used with permission of the author.

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