January 27, 2008

Diving Into American History and Geography

We have been studying history chronologically since prehistoric times. I recently realized we were having a problem. Ciaran is in 1st grade and Rhiannon in 3rd. I placed him with us starting history this year in Story of the World Vol 3. - the problem is it isn't as interesting as prehistoric, Egypt and Rome. Since he had missed out on a lot of the interesting time - he was finding it hard to join in. When we got to the colonies and anything American history related he was suddenly interested so we adapted. I have paused our Story of the World probably for the reminder of the year.

Rhiannon has now had chronologically world history up into the mid 1700's. Now we are going to study American history for the rest of year then pick up next year with Rhiannon in the middle of vol 3 world history and start Ciaran and Sirah together in Story of the World Vol 1

The kids are LOVING the American Revolution. We are reading "Why America is Free" as a spine and filling in with a ton of library books, both fiction and non-fiction from and about the time period. We will continue at a pace the kids want moving as slow or quickly through a topic as we need.

I am continuing our US geography by learning the states, capitols and interesting facts about them. We do this in a simple yet engaging way. We print out maps of regions, the US and then each individual state. We begin by reading about the state in our Time for Learning States book. In addition, when available from the library (so far each state has been she reads the corresponding state book from the series Welcome to the U.S.A. These books are filled with interesting, silly, fun and useful facts and pictures from the state. They are easy to read with good pictures and follow a relatively consistent format. They really enjoy them and looks forward to this part of our lessons.

As they read them they keep pausing to share interesting facts like how many times you can make it to the moon and back with the oranges grown in Florida or carpet made in Georgia. Then they find the state on their regional map (less states to choose from and more room for writing than a plain US map) and write the state abbreviation on it. I have agreed to write the capitol for them but they need to find it in the book and spell it for me. After the capitol and state are written they need to draw or write several facts from the state. For example for Florida Rhia drew a picture of an orange, mickey mouse ears, a rocket and manatees. In Georgia she drew peanuts, carpet and a mud hole (for the games described in her book). In Kentucky she drew horses and mammoth cave. Now when she looks at her sheet she can jog her memory about what that state is known for as well as the state name and capitol.

After they finish the regional map they need to find the state on the US map and color it in. We also discuss if someone we know lives there or has lived there. On the individual state map we paste printouts of the state flower, map, bird, fish, tree and sometimes other interesting facts from the state. We also mark the capitol and any relatives or friends that live in the areas.

We are working through one region at a time. This allows us to focus on one regional map at a time and that area of the bigger US map. My plan is to discuss the region as a whole when we complete each state in a region, then we can compare and contrast the states from each other and from where we live and see if any of the interesting facts had similarities. Then after we complete two regions we can compare and contrast these regions.

In addition to the books sometimes we may look at other resources about states such as 50States.com and Enchanted Learning State Resources. This is easy and fun and offers a real visual tool in the end to jog our memories. You could make it easier for other children by just picking something yourself to have them draw to remind them of the state. Though I do think if you have readers that making them read and discover it themselves has more impact.

This parallels the American history study nicely and so far we are all enjoying history and geography this way. Part of me wishes we had started the beginning of the year with it so we had more time - we may just continue through the summer or into next year to complete the study as well.

1 comment:

  1. Mackenzie11:05 AM

    I think that using the maps to review for each individual state is a great idea and an easy way for the students to learn about them!