Monday, January 19, 2015

Middle School Monday - Cultural Geography

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Cultural Geography - the resources and methods we're using to study the geography and cultures of Europe. Homeschool Coffee Break @

Middle School Monday

Welcome to Middle School Monday! This week's Virtual Curriculum Fair is all about Exploring Our World - Social Studies and more Science. Bloggers participating in the Fair will be sharing about history, geography, world cultures, worldview, biology, botany, geology... and much more! Be sure to visit our co-hosts this week, Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds and Stacie at Super Mommy to the Rescue, and the other participating bloggers - there's a list of them at the bottom of this post.

History, Geography, and World Cultures are some of my very favorite subjects, and I was excited about Kennady's choice for her Social Studies focus for this school year - until I tried to find textbooks! She wanted to study the geography and cultures of Europe, but didn't want to spend much time on history. That made sense, because the majority of our Social Studies has been history-based. Instead, Kennady wanted to learn about the places and landmarks in Europe; and about the customs, languages, food, and arts of the different countries.

To my surprise, there was next to nothing available in the way of curriculum that addressed these topics, and what little I found was geared towards very young children. I found one textbook that was what we wanted - Cultural Geography from BJU - but it covered the entire world, and it was for Grade 9 (and the two homeschool families I knew that had used it said it was fairly rigorous, and one family had been using it over two years instead of one). I thought I could make that work, which would save me from developing my own year-long unit study! And thankfully, I also stumbled across another resource from Simply Charlotte Mason - Visits to Europe - that was perfect, so we are combining the two books. From time to time, we also turn to a perennial favorite resource, Geography Through Art.
Middle School Monday: Geography Homeschool Coffee Break @

At the beginning of the year, we studied the opening chapters of Cultural Geography and learned some background information about the study of geography and cartography, and how those disciplines relate to the the studies of climate and cultures. Since Kennady's Science for this year is meteorology, it tied that together so well!

With the foundation laid, we moved on to study the countries of Europe. At this point, we turned to Visits to Europe for the order in which we would look at the countries and regions of Europe. The study has an emphasis on maps, and assigns readings in two beautiful books, Material World and Hungry Planet , both by Peter Menzel. These books describe the everyday lives of people in various countries, and show photos of their living quarters, household possessions, grocery provisions, and meals.
Hungry Planet and Material World Homeschool Coffee Break @

Middle School Monday: Geography Homeschool Coffee Break @

In Visits to Europe, Kennady starts by studying, labeling, and drawing her own maps of each region, focusing on a few countries at a time.
Visits to Europe Homeschool Coffee Break @

Visits to Europe Homeschool Coffee Break @

For each country and region, we also read the related chapters in the Cultural Geography textbook. We also like to do some related artwork, and try some foods from the different cultures. Geography Through Art, Eat Your Way Around the World,  Holidays of the World Cookbook for Students,  and the website Global Table Adventure are all valuable resources that we use.
Middle School Monday: Geography Homeschool Coffee Break @

Cultural Geography resources Homeschool Coffee Break @

Middle School Monday: Geography Homeschool Coffee Break @

Middle School Monday: Geography Homeschool Coffee Break @

Since we are trying to sample some foods from the various cultures, I started a blog series sharing what we've done - A Taste of Europe. We haven't done nearly as much with that project as I'd hoped to have accomplished by this time in the school year, but we're still working on it!
A Taste of Europe at Homeschool Coffee Break @

I shared in more detail about the entire study in Middle School Monday - Geography, and about the resources we're using in V is for Visits to Europe and My Favorite Geography Resource.
Visits to Europe Homeschool Coffee Break @

You may also want to visit my posts E is for Exploring America and A is for American History for ideas on our study of American History, particularly for high school students. During last year, when we were studying North and South America, we also did a food-related project, and you can find out about many of the foods we tried in my Eating the Americas series.
Eating the Americas at Homeschool Coffee Break @

I also invite you to look at my 5 Days of Living History series which was part of a blog hop a couple of years ago. I included ideas for studying history with younger children there as well.
5 Days of Living History at Homeschool Coffee Break @

 How do you explore our world in your homeschool? Leave a comment and let me know!

Each week I invite bloggers to share their posts about middle school here on Middle School Monday. The link is open through Saturday, and I will do my best to visit, comment, and share your posts. Please grab the Middle School Monday button to add to your post or to your sidebar when you leave your link below, and please visit the other links and comment or share. I look forward to seeing what you and your middle schoolers are doing!
Middle School Monday at Homeschool Coffee Break

Please visit your neighbors, leave comments, and share!

Thanks to Susan at Homeschooling Hearts and Minds for the Virtual Curriculum Fair 2015 banners created using clipart and graphics from StoryRock from My Memories.

For more "Exploring Our World" posts in the Virtual Curriculum Fair, visit these participating bloggers:
Exploring World History Through the Eyes of Scientists by Susan @ Homeschooling Hearts & Minds
Exploring Our World With Social Studies by Stacie @ Super Mommy to the Rescue
Relaxed Homeschooling: Science and Social Studies in the Early Elementary Years by Brittney @ Mom's Heart
Living History by Sarah @ Delivering Grace
Classically Influenced, Project Strong, Adaptable Middle School History by Christy @ Unexpected Homeschool
Primary Sources for Delight-Directed History by Susan @ The Every Day of Education
Watching History, or Using Video Courses for Social Studies by Debra @ Footprints in the Butter
Exploring our World: High School Studies of Ancient History, American Government and Economics by Laura @ Day by Day in Our World
History, Geography, and Worldview Lessons in Our Homeschool by Jennifer @ A Glimpse of Our Life
Our Curriculum Choices 2015 ~ Science, History & Geography by Renata @ Sunnyside Farm Fun
Our Favorites for History, Geography, and Science by Becky @ Milo & Oats
Globe Trotting by Lisa @ Golden Grasses
Around The World by Michele @ Family, Faith and Fridays
Bible-Based History Curriculum and Resources by Tauna @ Proverbial Homemaker
13 Living Book History Series for a Charlotte Mason Based Homeschool by Chelli @ The Planted Trees
Social Studies and Science in Our Classical / Charlotte Mason Homeschool by Sharra @ The Homeschool Marm
The Science Life by Laura @ Four Little Penguins
History, Geography Science for 2015 by Chareen @ Every Bed of Roses
History Social Studies and Science...VCF Week 3 by Denise @ Fullnest
Learning About our World and History by Joelle @ Homeschooling for His Glory
Taking the Mystery Out of History and Other Subjects Too With Our Favorite History Curriculum by Amy @ One Blessed Mamma

 This post is also linked at: Candle In the Night
Candle in the Night

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DeliveringGrace said...

I enjoyed this. The Geography through Art sounds fascinating. I've been looking at your English recipes. Do let me know if you need any more. I'm English and live in London.

Unknown said...

Middle school is such a tender age. So glad you are hosting this vital link up :) I don't really blog on that age otherwise I'd add a post as well.

Thanks so much for sharing with us on this week's Mom 2 Mom Link Up! Hope you can join us again :)
Rachael @ Diamonds in the Rough

Meg Falciani said...


I am *dreading* world history next year. I LOVE American History and am having such fun; the thought of World History and ancient cultures just makes me want to crawl into a hole until Matthew is a sophomore! But this sounds AWESOME...and with a teen boy, when there is food involved, odds are much better for compliance. LOL This just gave me a whole new idea that maybe won't be so bad!

Kym said...

Sarah - thanks for the offer! We have really enjoyed Geography Through Art - it is one of my favorite resources!

Rachael - thanks for visiting and commenting. I don't see many link-ups for middle schoolers, so I was hoping to offer a place for some to do that.

Meg - so glad my post inspired and encouraged! Hope you find a way to make world history work out great for you and Matthew next year!

Leah Courtney said...

These are some great resources. I'm loving studying countries and cultures with my 4th and 5th grader this year.

Brenda Prince said...

My kids love learning about other countries and their food/culture. Mine are alot younger though, so we use unit studies from Amanda Bennett as well the Little Passporters . Its so much fun to make a meal from another country.

Btw, the artwork is amazing :)

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