Not everyone can say they have a map on their dinner table.
Over the years our homeschooling has morphed into a lifestyle. When it comes to homeschooling styles and curriculum, I think I’ve tried them all. It took me several years to realize that not EVERY subject has to have its own curriculum and lesson plans. The area of geography is one of those.
Quick Disclaimer: If you want your child to win geography bees, then you will need to do more than what I talk about here. Okay? Good.
One of the hardest things for me as a kid, besides keeping names and dates straight in history, was geography.
Where is Bolivia in relation to me? Are China and Japan part of the same country? Don’t laugh, because I really struggled with keeping the world straight, in my head. That was the trouble though.
It was all in my head and rarely where I could see it.
I can remember using maps now and then, but we never had one where it could be seen, and it seemed that the majority of my school years were spent studying the United States. And not much has changed since then.
My husband dislikes our house looking like a school.
As a result, we can’t hang anything up. One day, after we had spent the entire afternoon studying the colonies, I left the laminated world map on the table because the kids were interested in it. We ate dinner with the big map on the table, and my husband started playing a “Find the Capital” game with the kids.
The rules for the capital game are simple: Someone names a capital (or a state/country), and everyone else has to find the state (or capital) for it. The big rule here is that the caller can’t name a place that is under someone’s plate. It has to be visible during the meal.
This was my dining room table.
Everyone had so much fun, finding different places on the map, that my husband suggested we leave the map on the table.
I just slid it under the clear vinyl and there it stayed. I have swapped it out, depending on what we’re studying. Sometimes the US map is there, and sometimes the World map. No matter what, they were there for easy reference.
Last year, I realized that my 13-year-old maps are outdated and needed to be replaced, so I bought new ones. They are smaller, which allows them to both be on the table at the same time.
This is the table with our new maps.
Our kids have learned their way around a map.
Without even trying, they have memorized a lot of state capitals and learned where to find them, just by playing a made-up meal time geography game. We still do this periodically and find that the review helps them a lot. I’d be lying if I said it didn’t help US too!
Another benefit of the maps being on the table is that they are available, all the time.
Kids will naturally read whatever is handy, and enjoy looking at colorful pictures. Our maps are colorful, and I often find one or more kids just looking at the map while they eat their breakfast.
They probably won’t win a geography bee, but there is definitely something to be said for familiarity leading to interest.