Tag Archives: geography

Indiana – By The Way ~ a Crew review

Indiana cover

By the Way is a fun and fact-filled series of books written by author Joy Budensiek. We have been enjoying one of the four newest books in the By the Way Book Series as we think about planning a trip before too long. Indiana ~ By The Way is the book we have been enjoying. The other new ones include New York City, Alaska, and Ireland. There are currently 10 books in this series.

Joy Budensiek began writing these books to help families have an interesting and fun way to discuss spiritual truths in everyday life. After hearing the startling fact that most Christian families do not intentionally discuss God’s hand in every day life, she created this series to lend a hand and lead the way for families. These geographically based books help parents teach a Christian worldview through a bright and exciting children’s book.

reading in the tent

Each of the books in the series is a hard-back book that is printed in full color. It contains pictures of the actual places and animals discussed, as well as drawings and other images to illustrate other ideas or things. The reading level is upper elementary and the book is about 50 page long. Each page is packed and we would read about 6 or 8 pages in a sitting. This allowed us to discuss ideas and talk about things that interested us. More than once, while I was reading aloud to Miss J (age 9), one or both of the older girls would come look at what we were reading about. Often, we ended up at the computer, looking at the places on a map or reading more about the place mentioned.

By the Way tells the stories of two children who explore the world around them, wherever they end up. Alex and Lexi find themselves immersed in the beauty of God’s creation and seeing God’s hand in the world around them. In the book about Indiana, they are visiting family at Thanksgiving. Their family explores the state and finds a lot of interesting places to visit, things to learn, and animals to see.

reading with kitty

Some of the fun facts that we learned while reading this book:

  • There are quite a few covered bridges in Indiana. And, we hope to see some when we end up visiting that state.
  • There is a lot of wildlife, including Monarch butterflies (Miss L’s favorite), cardinals (Miss J’s favorite), bats (reminding Miss E of a visit to a cave a year or so ago), deer, lots of other birds (more of Miss J’s favorites), bears, rabbits, and many, many more.
  • There are sand dunes! We know sand dunes from White Sands so it was interesting to learn more.
  • This state borders Lake Michigan and is MUCH smaller than Texas.
  • There are large Amish communities in the state. This was really appealing to Miss E and Miss J since it relates so well to another book series they are reading about a young Amish girl.

These are just the tip of the iceberg with what you will learn about Indiana in this book. It is so easy to extend this type of learning. Marking a map, adding additional animal research or sketching, creating artwork related to themes and ideas, looking up more on the plants mentioned (orchids!) and trying to grow them – the possibilities are as varied as your own imagination.

holding book

As wonderful as all of this learning about Indiana is, there is something much better woven throughout the story and the pages of this book – God’s hand in nature and life. Intentionally looking for ways to help the reader see God’s hand, Bible verses are woven into the story and into the lives of the characters. One of these places is when talking about the beauty of the changing leaves in fall and Psalm 90:2 is quoted. Another example is when they are talking about caves and bats. I John 1:5 is brought up. In the discussion about Thanksgiving and its history, James 1:17 is quoted to remind us that God gives so many good gifts.

By The Way pictures of book

In addition to this, the discussion between the adults and the children in the story models well how to intentionally bring up God’s plan, His hand, and His wonderful creation in every day discussions. Finding life lessons from God is modeled well in this series of books. In Indiana, we see this when having a thankful heart is taught. We see it when they are teaching about the Amish and they mention “Family and faith are most important to them. Anything which threatens these is rejected.” (p. 35) Billy Sunday is discussed and the adults teach the children about the worth of salvation in contrast to the salary he gave up. They also model this idea with nature – the animals are so perfectly created that the butterflies know exactly when to migrate, the bats know how to hunt, the farms are blessed by the rain and sunshine, and the variety of trees that exist.

By The Way books

This modeling is wonderful and reminds us of the important things in life. The By the Way series is fantastic at not only teaching about interesting places but in teaching about God’s perfect creation and our lives in it. Indiana is another fun book in this series. Want to know about more? We reviewed Colorado previously on the blog and have read the Washington book, also.

Blessings,
At Home.

Be sure to visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read about the other books in the series that are being reviewed this time around: Alaska, Ireland, and New York City.

By-The-Way-Book-Series-Reviews-New-York-Ireland-Indiana-Alaska

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Lost Civilizations Unit Study

Lost Civilizations Study

We strive to meet the interests and needs of our girls individually. When chatting with Miss L about what she wanted to take a look at for history this year, she said she wanted to study lost civilizations. When we went a little bit further in the discussion, I determined that this meant the civilizations that just kind of disappeared from a very long time ago. So, that is where our name came from. This does not include ancient civilizations such as Egypt, Rome, or Greece. Those are a different category for her.

So, what we did first was to list the group she knew about. Those were:

Aztec
Maya
Inca
Viking
Cliff Dwellers in American SW
Anasazi
Mesopotamian

Then we listed out what she wanted to know about them. Here is the list of questions:

  1. Where did they live?
  2. What were their homes like?
  3. What did they eat?
  4. Do we know of any myths or legends surrounding this civilization?
  5. What is their lifestyle – agrarian? nomadic? village? hunter? gatherer?
  6. What type of climate did they live in? How did that affect their lives?
  7. Did they have a known family structure? Was there a patriarch? A matriarch?
  8. Find a map that includes the area(s) they lived and mark it with what you know, both from their time and present day.
  9. What did they wear? What was their clothing made of and look like?
  10. When did their civilization begin? When was its peak? When did it disappear?
  11. What are the theories of why the civilization disappeared?
  12. Are there any remaining important landmarks or ruins? What are they? Describe and/or draw them. Mark them on the map.

Lost Civilizations plan

We found some websites and bookmarked those but our greatest reliance has been on physical resources from the library. We have checked out several books for each different group, though some of them overlap. I can list these out but it is really quite dependent on what you have access to. There are none that are just fantastically detailed, extremely helpful. What we have found is that there are several good bits of information in several different books but none are a complete resources. So, find what you can around you, use the internet, and enjoy the process.

Miss L is taking notes along the way. Then she is writing a report in a notebook on each individual civilization. She likes having all her research in one place and since she enjoys writing, this is perfect for her. And it was her choice.

This process has been interesting and, I hope, fun for her. I know she has learned quite a bit about different civilizations. It has been a good process and I hope this gives you some ideas about creating a study about something that has piqued your student’s interest.

Blessings,
At Home.

 

 

Carole P. Roman books ~ a Crew review

author Carole P. Roman books

Whenever I think about reading a book on another country or culture, the first books that come to mind are by author Carole P. Roman. The Carole P. Roman books and collections are award winning books about lots of different people and places, as well as fiction stories (some with great morals), and we are blessed to review these three this past month:

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Russia

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Poland

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Germany

We were asked which books we might be interested in and these were our top three choices. Why? Because each of these countries were affected by World War II and Miss J has been studying WWII. This gave us yet another literature correlation to our study and I knew for a fact that they were quality literature. In addition to have an easy-to-read text, the If You Were Me series are written from the viewpoints of children and are written in a way that children can relate to them well. As you open each book, there is a map (not drawn to scale but still helpful) of the country, followed by a page with a globe that shows where the country is located. The books are well-researched and a pronunciation guide with definitions are provided with each one to help the readers understand a bit more about the culture. The illustrations are engaging and colorful, enhancing the enchanting text, bringing it all together.

Carole P Roman Russia

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Russia

The book about Russia covers a lot of family words, like mother and father. As you read along, words are incorporated naturally. In talking about going to the store, the book mentions the word for a fur hat and that you would use rubles to purchase it. Major landmarks are included such as St. Basil’s Cathedral, Red Square, and the Kremlin. Food is not left out and descriptions of borscht, piroshky, caviar, samovar, and more are included. Favorite pasttimes for children are mentioned and include chess, playing with kuklas (dolls), and ice hockey. The new year is a big holiday and much of the details of it are included, from the gift bringer Ded Moroz to the New Year tree, favorite foods and the fortune teller tradition.

This was a simple look at a complex society so it is definitely not comprehensive. Yet, it is a good way for children to get a look at another culture and some of the ways in which children from there are like them and different from themselves. The text itself is not difficult but because there are a number of Russian words with pronunciations included, I would not recommend a child try to read this book alone. Guidance would be greatly beneficial for children under the age of about 10.

Carole P Roman Germany

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Germany

The book on Germany actually begins with a bit of history about the country itself, where it and its name originated from. There is also information about the city of Berlin and its importance. Boy and girl names are shared, as well as other family names including mother and father, grandmother and grandfather, and aunt and uncle. The beautiful castle Neuschwanstein is pictured (an actual picture, not a drawing – I like that it shows it accurately this way) and the history is shared. Euros and marks are talked about and why the change was made. Food, of course, is covered including hunger-inducing dishes such as sauerbraten, sauerkraut, dumplings, and apfelstrudel. (This made Miss J ask her daddy to make her some apple strudel and it was yummy!) Activities such as fussball (soccer) and going to Oktoberfest are part of their lives. It closes out with a bit more history and several interesting facts about Germany.

Carole P Roman inside Germany Book

I like that this story contains so many bits of the history of the country, as well as the information on the actual culture that we would expect. Between the history, the food, and all the words, I feel like this is a good book to help someone know a bit more about Germany. The story is engaging and easy to read, though the pronunciations of the foreign words will make it a bit more difficult for a child.

Carole P Roman Poland

If You Were Me and Lived in . . . Poland

Poland was one that I chose solely due to the involvement of the country in World War II. It is often mentioned so I felt it would be a good one for Miss J to know a bit more aobut. This book definitely did its part for that, without getting so much information that she didn’t understand any of it. One of the fun bits about this book on Poland is that backgrounds of almost all of the pages are actual photographs that have drawings on top of them. This allows the beauty of the country to be seen clearly.

The book, like the Germany book, give a lot of history about the country. From the various names for Poland itself to a legend about how the city of Warsaw got its name, the text is engaging. Because much of Poland’s interest includes famous people, the book includes people such as the composer Chopin and the astronomer Copernicus. Sports are important to these people and so football (pilka nozna), skiing, and sledding are featured, as well as ice hockey. Food is shared through a trip to the grocery store and dinner at the grandparents. From mleko and hleb (milk and bread) to rosol broth, makaron, sledz and pierogi, hunger creeps up reading about the food. Bird watching and a game called “spot the gnome” are fun activities for all ages in Poland.

Carole P Roman books

Overall Thoughts

While each book contains many of the same types of information, each one seems so very different. That is partly because of the different culture of each book but I also feel that Carole P. Roman does a great job of writing the differently, with a slightly different focus that helps you get a feel for things that are important to that culture. For example, Germany seems to have a big focus on history while Poland’s focus in on activity and outdoor sports. This keeps each book in the series fresh and new and exciting, even when you are reading several of them back-to-back.

This is a wonderful series for children to learn more about other cultures around the world and is a great supplement to any country or continent study that you may be doing. As I mentioned, we pulled a bunch that we already had on the shelf for our WWII study and then added these when they arrived at th house. A couple of years ago when we were doing a continent study, I put the various If You Were Me books that went with the continent in the basket along with the other items to help us get a feel for what the continent was like. These are so very flexible and packed with such good information that I highly recommend them.

And one of the best parts – they get read and enjoyed! When these three books arrived at the house, they disappeared into one bedroom and the another and were read by two of the three girls within two hours of receiving them. The other young lady had read them in a couple of days. The appeal of these books is strong and since the content is quality, I don’t mind giving them free rein to read them.

Blessings,
At Home.

Be sure to read more about the Carole P. Roman books and collections that Homeschool Review Crew families were reading. We have read and reviewed books by this author before, both 2017 and 2016, and always enjoy them. Some of our past reviews include

 

Click on the banner below to read reviews from the Homeschool Review Crew.

Carole P. Roman books and collections {Carole P. Roman Reviews}

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Art with Let’s Go Geography

We are still enjoying working through Let’s Go Geography. We don’t stress over our pacing. Some weeks we do three countries; some weeks, it gets left off. It is always interesting and fun, though, and we are really enjoying it a lot still. I hope Year 2 is out when we are ready for it.

I just thought I would show you some of the art pieces that have been completed in relation to Let’s Go. Miss J absolutely enjoys the art part of this and it is good for her to have this time. I sometimes forget that she is still young and doesn’t need to have all the book time that her older sisters do. Besides the fact that she is a hands-on learner All. The. Way. It sticks with her when it is hands-on so these projects are great for her.

If you are looking for a simple geography program that has lots of skill, take a look at Let’s Go Geography. It is a great curriculum that is simple yet very effective.

Blessings,
At Home.

Viking Ship creation

Viking Ship activity

Today, we were talking about Norway in our Let’s Go Geography lesson. (Read our review of Let’s Go Geography.) We are still really liking these easy but informative geography/history lessons. The embedded links to interesting videos coupled with map work, some history, national anthems, and some animals keep Miss J interested. The map work is just enough to challenge and it includes enough review to help retain the information.

A large part of Norway’s background is Viking and they are pretty proud of it. The activity today was to create a Viking ship on the ocean. Miss J had lots of fun with it and it was simple to do. These types of conclusion activities are right up her alley and seem to tie it all together for her.

Let’s Go Geography is one we are definitely keeping in our rotation of lessons.

Blessings,
At Home

Linked up with the Homeschool Review Crew and the Virtual Refrigerator.

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Unit Study on India

India unit study

We recently studied India as our family’s country of choice for the International Feast Night we had with some other homeschool families. We had a blast and learned so much about India. We kicked it off by reading The Hidden Village by Bonnie Rose Hudson. Read my review to learn more about that book.

book cover

After learning about Manju and the world he lived in, we watched some videos. These videos taught us a lot about West Bengal, the part of India that the book was set in. We learned about Bengal Tigers, jute harvesting, the uses of jute, mangroves, markets in West Bengal, foods, mongoose, and more. There are a lot of things to learn about.

We also learned that West Bengal is just one of the part of India, which is extremely diverse. To learn about other parts of India, we used several resources from SchoolhouseTeachers.com. This is a site that we use often through the year and it provided us lots of good information on India. From the video titled India Unveiled in a series titled Trek to the Holy Land to a history study titled A Splash of Geography with a section on India, we had access to lots of good information and images. We looked at, but did not use, lapbooking sets on the rhino and the Bengal Tiger, both available at SchoolhouseTeachers.com. By far, the best resource on this site was Asia: Trade Route Safari (also by Bonnie Rose Hudson, who wrote The Hidden Village that we kicked the study off with). We learned a ton from the India sections of this study.

our display on India

We used an art project that is available as a lesson from ArtAchieve. In level 1, there is a study of wood block printing in India. This is how they print fabric for the saris. Miss J created this print using the techniques of this art lesson and some videos from their cross-curricular materials.

Miss L studied the sari and decided to duplicate it with material on two of our 18 inch dolls. They were adorable.

dolls in saris

We also used a set of notebooking pages from Hip Homeschool Moms titled Around The World Notebook Pages. These were neatly put together. The girls were able to research information for them easily and it was easy to for them to complete the pages.

As this was a feast, we took food from India that we had cooked, as well. Our menu consisted of:

  • Butter Chicken
  • Picnic Rice (rice with curd/yogurt)
  • Apple and Raisin Chutney
  • Naan
  • Gajar Halwa Ladoo (Carrot and coconut truffles)
  • Bhapa Doi

foods from India

The recipes came from these two food blogs from India – Chef de Home and Fun FOOD and Frolic. There are tons more recipes on these two blogs and I would definitely like to try a few more.

the girls' display on India

At the feast, the girls set up a display table with their information and projects. Each family also took a few minutes to talk about what they learned, giving each child a few moments. (Great public speaking practice!) The students also had to introduce their menu and describe each of the foods so that everyone could know what they were eating. This was a fun night.

Hopefully, this will give you some resources for your own study of India. This is a very large, diverse country and we have barely touched on it. Perhaps we will cover some more during the springtime when we need a diversion one day. So much more to learn!

Blessings,
At Home.

Let’s Go Geography ~ a Crew review

Let's Go Geography

Geography is a subject that is always fascinating because there are so many facets to it. Whether you are looking for the language, culture, geographical features, landmarks, or other information on a country, Let’s Go Geography has a fantastic program. This has been a fun review that we are planning on continuing long past the end of the review period.

coloring a pageDesigned for K-4th grade, this is an online homeschool geography curriculum. Because it is online, you will need access to a computer, the internet, and a printer. From home, you will probably want a binder to keep the travel journal in and you will need basic school supplies for the activities. This would include crayons, pencils, map colors, scissors, glue, and few other supplies for specific crafts activities.

Let’s Go Geography was created by Carol Henderson. Mrs. Henderson has taught geography in a co-op setting for a while but decided to adapt her lessons to an online format for more homeschoolers to access. (I am so glad she did!!!) The program is a planned 3-year cycle taking the students from continent to continent and country to country. Each year of the cycle takes the students through at least one country per continent (well, Antarctica, Australia, and New Zealand are the anomalies for this).Let's Go Geography

The lessons follow a similar pattern for each country studied in the program:

  • map work, marking the country on both the continent map and a closer-up map when appropriate, which also includes answering some questions related to the maps and the country (mountains, lakes, borders, etc.)
  • a statistics page for the country
  • coloring the country’s flag and adding it to a map and/or passport
  • listening to the national anthem
  • videos that are related to important information about the country – the people, the geographical landmarks, the food, the exports, and more
  • a link for reading more online at a kid-friendly site and information on where to look in the library for printed materials on the country
  • a photo album with pictures from the country
  • a craft or coloring page related to the country

Watch the video of the lessons on the website.

This is a lot of information but it is simple and easy to follow this curriculum. Each country study opens in a PDF and all of the links you need for printing or videos are embedded in the PDF. You can even check off your progress on the website.

HOW WE USED IT

lighthouseMiss J is 8 and in 3rd grade. She has been working, somewhat inconsistently (my fault), on a continent study for the past year or so. This program was a perfect fit for her. We have enjoyed doing a country or two per week. She enjoys it and wants to complete a country each time we open the program.

Let’s Go Geography is written in such a way that you can do one country each time you use the program or you can break it up into several small sections and take several days to study the country. Either way would work well. This means it is an easy addition to your schedule and it takes almost no preparation.

Miss J enjoys studying the countries and we have found several things that have been rabbit trails in this study. What a wonderful things to experience.

  • She asked about maple syrup after studying the US Northeast. We dug ours out and saw it was made in Vermont. Perfect for a taste test.
  • After reading about maple candy and maple leaves with Canada, we found some maple candy at a store and got to eat it.
  • After watching the sugar cane video, she wanted to know more so we spent another 45 minutes finding more videos about sugar cane, how to use it, how to plant it, etc. That really brought Haiti to life for her and connected her to it.

That is what we are looking for in programs – connections! Let’s Go Geography definitely has that kind of connection for her.

volcanoes in Nicaragua

Back to how we used it each time, though. I would go through the PDF ahead of time and print off the pages we would need. I did not print the entire PDF for any of the countries since some of it is a cover page or instructions. She 3-hole punched the pages and placed them in her travel journal in the appropriate section (sections are by continent). We then would work through each of the pages – coloring maps and flags, pasting the flags where they go, answering questions, watching videos, and doing the craft or coloring page. She did either the craft or the coloring page for each country. If she had questions or interests that cropped up in the middle of the study, we followed them. If that meant we didn’t get through the whole country that day, it was fine. We just picked up where we left off.

lei from Hawaii

We often took this with us to her sister’s dance class and worked on it there, since we have plenty of time to sit and wait. It made a perfect project to take with us on the go if I printed it ahead of time. Except for one thing – when I transferred the PDF to my Kindle the links don’t work (we did still have internet access). The PDF reads fine but the links are no longer embedded. This is a fault of the Kindle, not the program. Easy to fix, though. I just planned ahead, opened the links, copied them, and emailed them to myself. We were then able to watch the videos.

While we have not yet reached a review lesson (lesson 12 is the first), the review lessons are really good! They review all of the countries studied thus far for the continents being looked at. There is extensive map work for the older students and plenty of good map work for the younger ones, as well, learning more about maps than has been discussed so far and encouraging as much work as possible to be done from memory. With matching activities and writing activities, the review lessons are packed full.

travel journal and passport

FINAL THOUGHTS:

We really like this program. It is simple enough to follow and do the planning for. But, best of all, Miss J enjoys learning and is making connections with the countries we are studying.

Miss J says:
It is very fun. I have no idea why they did not call it “Let’s Go Geography Fun!” I like that it has fun activities and that you can mostly do them all if you have a printer. I think my friends would like this.

At Home.

Please visit the Homeschool Review Crew to read what other families thought about Let’s Go Geography.

Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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