Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Fifth Grade: US Geography

Well, my plan to finish Geography by December 1 did not work out. Too many other distractions. All good things, festivals, field trips, and the like. But, it did keep us from doing our main lesson work. We're now in our second week of December, and I project we have about 10 more school days left to finish Geography.

I really wanted to bring things alive for the Boy. Geography can be so dry. But I'm just not feeling creative. What I've opted to do is to have him read a book and take a few notes about a region. He then draws a map to put in his main lesson book (mlb). The notes get written into a paragraph or two about each state, which he copies into his mlb. He labels the map, colors each state — choosing his colors based on some aspect of the state flag, bird, flower, or sports team.  The final touch is a label for people we know who come from that state. Not very exciting, I know. 

To spice it up a little bit, I've looked for National Geographic type movies about the country (like "Lewis and Clark"), we're making a few recipes, and I've chosen a few pieces of literature that correspond with certain regions. (Johnny Tremain for New England, Uncle Remus for the south, etc.)

If I had my wish, we'd hop in the car and travel for a few weeks. That's how I really absorbed geography as a kid. Each summer we'd take a road trip to some region of the US or Canada. When I look at a map, I can picture the emerald green of Lake Superior, the gaping chasm that is the  Grand Canyon, the ethereal mist in the Smoky Mountains.  I can remember feeling like we were going to roll backwards while driving up Mt. Washington, and thinking it awfully odd for folks to have Christmas lights and snowmen decorations in the heat of a Florida December. 

My older boys benefited from similar trips, but we haven't taken any that the Boy can remember. (He was barely a toddler when we drove west to Yellowstone.) Our studies have made me determined to plan a trip for this summer, to show our last baby the beauty and wonder of our country...and maybe some of Canada, too.