Are you like me and just can't keep yourself from changing, tweaking and adjusting the way you tackle your schooling? I'm convinced it must be some virus that is automatically transmitted when you open your first box of curriculum, because it seems to infect even the strongest of us!
We are working through the states for Geography this year and I am trying to do this as a group activity. You know, 3 kids at once... make it easier on mom.... right! My children range from a completely "Ooh! A squirrel!" type 2nd grade boy, to an over-achieving 5th grader who needs about 3 seconds to learn ANYTHING, to a "do-I-have-to-be-here-for-this?" 7th grade daughter. So, adjustments as we go have simply become a given.
As always, I started off the year with all these grandiose plans: field trips, food from each state, etc, etc... Then, as if it's still a startling phenomenon, life happens. Sickness or scheduling issues prevent a field trip. That great state recipe sounds yummy, but I forgot a major ingredient at the store! Why do I keep setting myself up for these inevitable failures?
Rather than bore you with the list of trial and error methods that failed us, I'll share what actually IS working for us now. First, I had to decide what exactly I wanted them to come away with. If you're the mom who dreams of your kids being able to name, locate and label every river, mountain and major city in the US, I tip my hat to you! With an upcoming move on the horizon, I however, dream of surviving this year - just being honest!
I wanted them to learn a little about each state's history and resources, it's capital, abbreviation, and major landmarks - to be able to hold an intelligent conversation with others about the country they call home. So, here's the routine we've settled into:
We cover 2 states per week.
- We watch the current state's segment from The States from The History Channel. This has worked out much better than reading the material. My kids tend to be very visual learners, so this has removed some of the
bored out of their mindsless than attentive attitudes.
- Quickly practice the capital and abbreviation for the state.
- My 2nd Grader uses uses The United States of America: A State by State Guide and Road Trip USA's coloring pages. Little disclaimer: I love the Road Trip USA curriculum, I just found it difficult to "amp up" for my older students.
- My older girls use Trail Guide to US Geography to complete each state's mapping assignment. (We found that the questions in this book began jumping around and weren't about the state we were studying, so we omit that part. Maybe because we have an older version of the book?)
- My 2nd Grader and I go through a fabulous book called The Little Man in the Map. If you haven't seen this, you should definitely check it out. It uses a little "man in the map" called MIM for short, to help kids place the states. Here is a video to show you a bit more about it. All my kids have loved this book and learned a tremendous amount from it!
- Using Scholastic's 50 Great States Read & Solve Crossword Puzzles, my girls read a summary of information about each state and then complete a crossword puzzle to really lock in those facts. Right now, this is on sale as an eBook for $1 on the Scholastic site.
This is our review day. We review all the states covered so far in any fun way we'd like to. If it's been a crazy week, we may also use the Stack the States app or Sheppard Software's game to review states & capitals.
There are always so many fabulous resources to choose from, I can make myself crazy trying to use them all! This schedule gets the information into their brains without stressing us all out! I'd call that a win!