This learning time is the first since we intentionally started that our main focus has turned away from “just geography”. We’ve done math and phonics as a disciplined skill building time each day, but the boys had not quite reached the ability level of reading great literature and soaking in a great world view of events. I am REALLY enjoying this new learning phase in our home with two really great readers!
I have felt a little bad – when others have discussed their great history unit studies – that our history has not seemed to dig as deep as theirs. We still did read alouds, story books, plays, but somehow, I always felt that “others” were doing “more”. I’d feel a tad bit ashamed, and then feel a tad bit bad for my boys. (Note: Homeschool moms are weird).
Art, 19’th Century History, Music and Science has been our focus this year. The funny thing is – in every story – every event – the boys keep going back to the maps! It all gets tied back to Geography – how it all relates, what we do here, how it relates to Europe (Washington, Adams, Jefferson), where the composer lived to inspire his music (Joplin) and what the artist was observing to create his paintings (Monet). Each event ties to a place – the history remains – in that place.
Maybe, because of the way we have learned these last 8 years with Galloping the Globe, The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide, games like 10 Days In, and such from hands on geography practice – my family thinks Place first, Event second. Maybe other families that have studied history think Event First, Place second? I’m curious. Feel free to chat amongst yourselves in the comments.
Which brings me to my point today – reason for writing – I know you often wonder if I have points to my writing . . . . But today – I wanted to share with you a great resource from Bright Ideas Press which I learned about last year through The Old Schoolhouse Magazine and this year through Timberdoodle. All the above to say – when we started our lesson Geography Based, we usually started with a map. With the curriculum books I was using, the map was generally there. When we’d rabbit trail down a historical trail or to another country I’d get frustrated, we couldn’t just follow the book to another map- but it would help us stay on track to the country we were learning about. However, this year, as we are starting with other points – it is REALLY hard to find a specific map for a specific time period, in any area around the world. I know I’m either talking to frustrated new moms or seasoned moms nodding their heads.
The point? Oh – I’m getting there – WonderMaps!!! We were reading along about Thomas Jefferson’s presidency – when we read that he sent Lewis and Clark off on an expedition to check out the Louisiana Territory and that they traveled from the Mississippi River to the Rocky Mountains. Little bells rang out in our minds, of the slight inaccuracy of this statement. That if someone didn’t know the entire story, they might have had them traveling straight across America – on a much shorter direct route. We quickly went to the computer to look for routes and found out that indeed, they started on the Potomac in Ohio and ended at the mouth of the Columbia in Oregon. They took a northerly route to find the Northwest Passage to help widen /ease trade with Asia, we found words – but no maps. Then, I remembered we had WonderMaps on the computer, and I thought to find historical maps on the topic.
The maps gave us a better understanding of the actual route – we could use the layers /overlays to take off/add information on the page. The maps created quite a bit of conversation – and we continued on – this time talking about France, the Louisiana Purchase, the cost vs land attained, the peoples, etc.
Many times since then (this was back in the first few weeks of September), we have gone first to WonderMaps to see where Monet sat to look at his pond, where Rag Time pieces may have been created in Harlem and St. Louis and New Orleans, and to search out the countries mentioned in our 19th Century history.
A little more about WonderMaps –
WonderMaps is designed with easy-to-use layers that allow you to enjoy great customizable features with just a click. Select:
- historical or modern-day maps
- outline, reference, political, or topographical maps
- black-and-white or color maps
- features including: names, borders, rivers, cities, physical features, and graticules
- 60+ maps of the world
- 60+ maps of the USA
- 125 historical maps, including 25 biblical maps
- The complete map sets from The Mystery of History vols. I–III and All American History vols. I & II
Here is a simple Tutorial from Bright Ideas Press for WonderMaps –
Legal Disclosure: As a member of Timberdoodle’s Blogger Review Team I received a free copy of WonderMaps in exchange for a frank and unbiased review.