15 September 2011

Day 3 / 101 - Map Work

My husband and I love maps.  We can sit and be mesmerized by an atlas for hours.  So, it should come as no surprise that we spend a significant amount of time with our children studying Geography.  This year our homeschool curriculum has us covering U.S. Geography.

I have discovered that one of the easiest ways to teach Geography, and for my children to quickly learn and retain the information, is to have them draw the maps themselves.   We start by tracing.  To begin, I tape a map to a window.  Next, I find a blank piece of paper big enough to cover the map.  If that can't be located, I improvise and tape two sheets of paper together (or three, or four -- depending on the size of the map).  Then, I sit my child in front of the window and put them to work.  Once the map is traced, the children color and add details.  After tracing the map a few times, I believe most children could reproduce one from memory.  My son (age 10) has been able to freehand draw a United States map for a couple years.  We don't just do it with boundary lines, but also with physical features and natural landmarks.

The map pictured above is one of the latest ones traced by my daughter (age 7).  After coloring it, we stapled it to two file folders that we glued together.  Then we covered it with packaging tape (a cheap way to laminate). That way she can write the capitals on the map (she's keeping a running list on the left as she learns them), erase them, and do it again over and over.  Of course we have plenty of dry-erase maps around here, but this one has become a favorite, and is the one she prefers to use, because she made it herself.

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