Tuesday, October 20, 2015

A TOS Review: Drawing Around the World: USA

I have always loved Geography. My favorite Geography class happened my sophomore year of High School. My teacher was a MK (missionary kid). Other than thinking of her as a kindred spirit (I, too, was an MK) she was just plain stinkin' fascinating to listen to. She made the world seem like it was right outside our small classroom door. 

I have tried to bring my fascination with “parts unknown” into our homeschool. I imagine that I am not as interesting as my 10th grade geography teacher. Especially when my pupil starts doodling "Peyton Manning is Awesome" across a benign map of Kansas. I feel the tide of boring Geography classes changing. I just got to review the neatest Geography curriculum evah! Brookdale House provided a digital copy of their Drawing Around the World :USA geography curriculum for us to try out.

The course is intended for grades 4-12. It isn’t a typical geography course. The students draw, write, research state information and learn to craft accurate maps of every state in the whole United States.

One of the big draws of the curriculum for me was its repetitiveness. It is also very "gentle"...I am a big fan of a Charlotte Mason Education. Drawing Around the World: USA fits nicely into the Charlotte Mason World.  It instructs in nice sized bites. 

Here is how the lessons are laid out.

Day 1: Learn about the state or states. The student will need to find and record basic information about that state; such as capital, population, state bird, etc. Next is to draw the state and mark the capital as well the other states that have been studied so far.

Day 2: The student draws the state, the capital and all the other states studied so far on a blank map.

Day 3: Repeat of Day 2.

Day 4: Draw all the states and capitals learned so far on the map. The student is supposed to do this without looking at a complete map.

The very first thing I did was get the curriculum printed off. This is a hefty 282 page course. There are plenty of pages for instruction and inspiration.  While there are links provided to geography websites, I used the book list ideas from the library. We generally study one state a week and this curriculum fit in seamlessly.

Now Josiah has dysgraphia and the whole drawing aspect proved be challenging for him. However, this is not a traditional drawing course and I felt that the repetitive nature and constant reinforcement would be beneficial.

Now who remembers that the capitol of Vermont is Montpelier? Josiah also learned that 3/4's of Vermont is covered with trees. More than that he can now locate Vermont on a blank map and knows its located in New England. 

 Of course, my goals for Josiah's educational experience is not to know dry facts and figures. However, I want the boy to be able to close his eyes and picture the entirety of the United States in his mind and tell me what states border Utah. 

 And if ever caught in one of the "Cash Cab" situations (is that show even around anymore?) I want him to know the capital of Vermont. 

I love the fact that Drawing Around the World: USA allows him benefit of steady progress. He can put his pencil to paper every day in easy repetition. 

And my friends. The best part is that I can spend my time filling in with strange and unusual facts, unique state recipes and virtual road trips. All the while, Brookdale House is doing the heavy lifting. They have provided an educational tool for me that not only provides therapy for my dysgraphic son (bet they didn't count on that added benefit), but easily helps him learn and remember. 

You can see I've made pretty good friends with the whole course. The one thing I do have to tell you is that there are a lot of maps that might seem superfluous. I went ahead and printed the whole kit and caboodle and I am glad I did. 

Your situation might be different. I am trying to provide Josiah with more independent work. I have found that on a few days throughout the week I can include some map work in his "homework" packet. I like having a page(s) for every day so I can do that ahead of time. 

There are also opportunity for timed drills. We didn't use these. I felt like the work was plenty and he seemed to absorb it a lot more (by labeling and writing everyday) than he would normally. 

I can't wait to try out Drawing Around the World: Europe next! 

You can connect with Brookdale House via the following social media outlets. Don't forget to click on the banner to read more reviews. Brookdale House has lots of great products! 

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