And we’re back. To schoolishness. I like to bring things back into a little order in the fall, though every fall it seems like we are a little too far gone to really achieve anything like order.Besides, when September hit there was a barrage of need-tos: new glasses, yearly check-ups, chimney repair, gov’t homeschool paperwork, allergy doctors, etc. Regular schedule? Ha!
In any case, the geography activities from Mapping the World With Art seem to be a hit so far. Violet — now 14! — is really happy that we are doing something all together again, the readings are interesting, the map-drawing instructions are clear, and Victoria (10) is happy with activities that include baking faux clay tablet maps that are really chocolate cookies.
Funny thing about the cookies: initially we all thought they tasted kinda blah, but by 9:30 pm they became pretty tasty. I do not think it was the cookies that changed.
Oh, and we usually watch a John Green Crash Course along with the lesson. Violet loves them because John Green is an Internet hero, and Victoria enjoys them, not least because they are probably age-inappropriate for her. Oh well. They race along at breakneck speed, so I’m not sure what they’ll remember other than John Green, but with any luck it reinforces things they already knew.
I’ve also been piling up books to strew around the house to add to our geography reading. Mapping the World really hits on a lot of fascinating topics but the readings are — happily — short. I got these to allow for following up on anything interesting:
Charting the World: Geography and Maps from Cave Paintings to GPS with 21 Activities. Richard Panchyk.
This is a book from Chicago Review Press, which I find to be a fairly reliable source for worthwhile materials. Not all of the activities are going to be worthwhile for every audience, but often the text is strong enough that kids in a variety of ages and interest levels can take something away.
The Kingfisher Atlas of Exploration and Empires. Simon Adams
What you would expect from Kingfisher visually. It’s really focused on the Renaissance era of New World exploration.
The Picture History of Great Explorers. Gillian Clements.
Honestly, not a great book, and a little young. What it’s lacking in text and great illustrations is somewhat counterbalanced by the very broad definition of explorers. If you are looking for women who were explorers, you can find them in here.
The World Made New: Why the Age of Exploration Happened and How it Changed the World. Marc Aronson.
Amazon lists this as ages 10 and up, but as with many good books written for children, as an introduction to the topic it works for older readers and adults too. Nicely done, though focused on the American history angle.
The Starry Messenger: A Book Depicting the Life of a Famous Scientist, Mathematician, Astronomer, Philosopher, Physicist, Galileo Galilei. Peter Sís.
OK, this is not really about mapping, per say, but you know, people navigate by the stars. I am not familiar with Peter Sís (though a quick scan on Amazon suggests that we should look for more), but I just could not resist a beautiful picture book suitable for older children. (They are out there, but it takes a discerning reader, librarian, or bookseller to help you find them.) It is not a biography of Galileo, in the tradition of the wonderful Diane Stanley books, but it is a gorgeous visual representation of the way the world looked to Europeans during the Renaissance. This is really an all-ages book.