Tools for Homeschooling Middle School: Teaching Geography
Teaching geography to middle school students? This will be an invaluable resource for you as you plan out your middle school geography lessons.
Some homeschool families we know include geography with their history studies and some families don’t really spend a lot of time studying geography at all. Our kids really enjoy learning about the world around them so we have incorporated geography lessons and activities in our homeschooling efforts for years!
Although there are not a lot of curriculum options for teaching homeschool middle school geography we have found a few gems we believe are extremely helpful. We have also discovered a number of other valuable tools for homeschooling middle school geography including books, videos, hands-on activities, games, and more.
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Trail Guide to World Geography – I selected this curriculum to use in our homeschool a few years ago because of the flexibility it offers. I like to have many options available so I can pick and choose which learning activities work best for our family. The Trail Guide offers research questions, notebooking, map work, and suggestions for hands-on activities like cooking and art.
It also offers suggestions for how to present the information to kids from 2nd – 12th grade! We chose to use it during the middle school years, but it is easily a program that could be used with children of multiple ages (which is very cost-effective!).
A big plus for me was also the Trail Guide’s link to literature. The first 27 weeks of the Trail Guide cover world geography and the last 9 lessons tie everything together with a unit study based on one of our favorite books – Around the World in 80 Days.
Trail Guide to U.S Geography – After we completed our study of world geography we moved right into the study of US geography. We used the same Trail Guide series for a couple of reasons – 1) it still offered me the flexibility and ease of preparation that I was looking for, and 2) since the kids were familiar with the format it helped them become more independent learners. This program includes a 30-week study of the 50 states and concludes with a unit study about the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
Ultimate Geography & Timeline Guide – If you would like to create your own geography lesson plans this is the book you need for ideas and inspiration! I bought this book at the VERY FIRST homeschool conference I ever attended and it has been a great go-to resource tool over the years. This guide offers ideas for gathering helpful resources, choosing & using maps, hands-on activities & games, and linking geography to other curricula. It is particularly helpful for parents homeschooling middle and high school grades.
North Star Geography by Bright Ideas Press – This is the geography curriculum we are currently using as we are transitioning from middle school into high school and my guys LOVE this program. You will notice a theme here…this program also offers a great deal of flexibility.
It gives students a broad and deep understanding of how geography impacts their everyday life. It intentionally includes more learning options than any family can use — this allows students to select activities that best suit their learning styles and interests. For more details please see my review of North Star Geography at The Curriculum Choice (a great site I highly recommend, utilize, and contribute to on a regular basis!)
Books, Videos & CDs
WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press – As we study geography we always seem to be looking for unique and different maps. Sometimes we need historical maps other times current maps. Sometimes we want names or rivers printed on the maps and another day the kids need basic outline maps so they can add their own labels and labels. It has been a lifesaver for us! With this digital product, you can customize and print hundreds of different maps to suit your lesson needs.
National Geographic Student Atlas of the World – There are a number of good student atlases available but our favorite is the one offered by National Geographic.
Geography Through Art – This book has also been on our homeschool shelf for many years. Yes, you can search the internet for art projects to supplement your study of different countries, but this a quick and easy reference that includes a variety of projects (painting, drawing, sculpting, etc.) from 25 countries.
Where on Earth is Carmen Sandiego? – The Complete Series – This is a FUN (and educational) way to combine history and geography with action and adventure. This DVD is an amazing value – 40 episodes of this hit show for less than $10!!
Holling C. Holling Books ( Sea Bird, Paddle to the Sea, and Minn of the Mississippi) – If you want to tie together geography, history, and science these beautiful books might be a perfect fit! Great for middle school age, but as an adult, I like them too.
How the States Got Their Shapes – The History Channel offers an interesting look at the many things that make our 50 states alike and also very different.
Games & Hands-on Learning Activities
Atlas Scavenger Hunt – Make learning how to use an atlas fun for your middle schooler.
National Parks Memory Challenge – Megan’s family uses this game to learn more about our National Parks and some of the park professions like Zoologist and Historian.
Great States! – A fun way to test kids’ knowledge of state landmarks, locations, capitals, and more! 400 question cards offer hours of education and entertainment.
Professor Noggin’s Countries of the World & Countries of the World II – My kids like these fun and educational trivia games to help them learn new and interesting facts about countries around the world.
Writable Globe Ball – Geography and PE? We can do that! I can’t count how many inflatable globes we have around our house, but this one is a favorite – pass the ball around and use a dry erase marker to labels places on the globe.
The Global Jigsaw Puzzle – 600 puzzle pieces later and you have an actual world map with lines of longitude and latitude, country names and capitals, and oceans filled with geography facts. Great family activity.
Homeschool History & Geography Curriculum Reviews by The Curriculum Choice Authors
Geography Quests by Blog, She Wrote
Maps, Charts & Graphs Review by Jen Dunlap
Building Geography Skills with Topographic Maps by Eva Varga
Some of Our Fun Middle School Geography Ideas:
- 10 Volcano Activities for Middle School
- Latitude and Longitude Scavenger Hunt
- World Atlas Scavenger Hunt
- How to Make a Compass
- How to Start a Geography Co-op
- Make a Sugar Karst Cave
- Map Reading Skills for Kids
- Spice Up Your Geography Lessons with Regional Foods
- Studying Geography with Regional Foods: Russia
Thanks for the mention Susan!
I was reading along and loving this post … what a surprise when I found my name!! Thank you, Susan! 🙂
Thanks Susan for including our Arctic Salt Dough map. Just proves that fun does not stop at the middle school grades.
Love your round up here. Great list!!!
Great collection of ideas, and just seeing the cover of Carmen Sandiego makes me start singing. lol
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