The longer you homeschool, the more you will notice the blur between formal homeschooling and regular life. Conversations, books, and ideas will carry over into your dinner conversations, vacation plans and your choice of movies and television. You will also notice, as your homeschool career progresses, that there are always one or two subjects that get pushed to the side when real life and time constraints take over your day. One of those subjects is likely geography.
If you have moved to the corner with the rest of the homeschool parents who consistently put geography off “until we have time,” hold your head up and resolve to make geography a part of your everyday life. It can be easy, inexpensive, and surprisingly entertaining! And, there are no workbooks involved.
Move beyond the placemats. You know, those cute laminated placemats with a world map on one side and a map of the U.S. on the other? There is nothing inherently wrong with these placemats, but when you are in the midst of a heated dinner discussion about Madagascar you’re going to have a mess on your hands when everyone starts shoving their plates and cups around so they can flip their placemats over to get a good look at their world map.
Consider a little redecorating. A giant map/mural in your dining room or living room can be attractive and amazingly useful. (Of course, not everyone has room for something this ginormous – just get what your budget allows and keep it moving. ) Secure the map panels to foam board before putting it on the wall. Add a border using molding from the local box hardware store (they’ll even cut it for you) to give your map a finished look. The foam board allows you to use tacks, flags and other markers without damaging your wall. (See my Pinterest pins for examples. It’s a pretty cool diy project I might try this summer). Right now, my giant 48″ X 77″ wall map (Van der Grinten projection) is currently in one of my son’s room, but I plan to add another one with a Peters projection map after reading a post by Monica Utsey over at her fabulous and very informative blog and website www.chocolatecoveredboyjoy.com
Have your kids choose a map pin, regular push pin, or marker style to note friends and family who live far away. Use another color marker to note areas of study for school. Yet still, another marker can be used to designate hot spots in world news. You get the idea. If you are familiar with the Flat Stanley books, take from that concept. Make teeny-tiny people to represent your family or to represent important people you might be studying in history. Move the flat people around the map as needed. (This is really fun to do when you study great explorers.)
You will be amazed at the attention the map receives from you, your kids, and visitors to your home. Bored children can often be found staring at the map or tacking on an imaginary travel route. Host a party with the most unlikely people and you’ll find them gathered around the map discussing their travels, current events, or talking animatedly about places they’ve all lived. With no real effort on your part, in a very short time, even your youngest children will be able to point out obscure locations on their own.