US Geography Block

We just finished a 6 week block on US Geography. Local and national geography is a standard block for 4th or 5th graders (10 or 11 year olds). I did not use a scripted curriculum for this block, but did find much guidance on the Christopherus website and through Donna Simmons’ Waldorf Curriculum Overview for Homeschoolers. In September we began the year by studying our house and our immediate neighborhood. In this second geography block, we expanded outward to study the area of the United States east of the Mississippi. My goal was to keep this block rich in stories, tall tales, regional recipes and folk songs.

Our local library system was a treasure trove of resources, and I really tried to keep the number of resources low. However, in retrospect I could have taught the whole block only using the Stories from Where We Live series edited by Sara St. Antoine. I cannot say enough about these books written specifically for children ages 9 and up! Each one profiles a different eco-region of the country through a compliation of poetry, short stories, letters and memoirs. There is also a section on topography and habitats that is thorough, but not overwhelmingly factual. I purchased mine (mostly used) through thriftbooks.com and amazon.com. This block was very easy to include my 6 year old kindergartener. He loved singing and marching along to all the patriotic music. He also enjoyed the stories, especially the picture books Island Boy and When I was Young in the Mountains. And although we didn’t use them as resources for this block, The Train of States by Peter Sis and The Scrambled States of America (and the corresponding card games) by Laurie Keller are perennial favorites at our house.

Story Resources:

  • Stories from Where We Live series edited by Sara St. Antoine
  • American Tall Tales by Mary Pope Osborne
  • Island Boy by Barbara Cooney (New England)
  • When I was Young in the Mountains by Cynthia Rylant (Appalachia)
  • My Side of the Mountain by Jean Craighead George (Catskill Mountains)
  • Minn of the Mississippi by Holling C. Holling (Mississippi River)
  • Earth Maker’s Tales: North American Indian Stories about Earth Happenings by Gretchen Mayo
  • Native American Stories by Joseph Bruchac
  • Rascal by Sterling North (Wisconsin)
  • The Completely Amazing Slightly Outrageous State Quarters Atlas and Album by Klutz

Music Resources:

  • This Land is Your Land: Favorite American Folk Songs by Phil Rosenthal
  • Patriotic Songs and Marches by Dennis Buck
  • Folksongs and Bluegrass for Children by Phil Rosenthal
We listened to selections from these cds everyday and I would hear both boys singing many of the songs while they were playing. I checked all 3 cds out of the library and it was such a fun and easy way to artistically extend the block. I want to remember this idea for future blocks.

Cookbooks:

  • The United States Cookbook by Joan D’Amico and Karen Eich Drummond
  • The Little House Cookbook by Barbara M. Walker
  • Heritage of America Cookbook by Better Homes and Gardens
  • Various church and local cookbooks

Other Projects:

  • Embroidered a fabric map of the United States (shown above; detail below).

  • Cooked many, many regional dishes.
  • Painted a landscape of Appalachia and a seascape of New England.

  • Drew freehand topographic map of the United States.

You can also see a mini block on the coastal region of the US here.

11 thoughts on “US Geography Block

  1. Pingback: Looking Back: Grade 4 Goals | Sure as the World

  2. Pingback: Plans for June | Sure as the World

  3. Pingback: Grade 1 Layout | Sure as the World

  4. Pingback: Handwork and Giveaway | Sure as the World

  5. Pingback: Ancient Mythologies Block: India | Sure as the World

  6. Pingback: Layering It In – Year Two | Sure as the World

  7. Pingback: Second Semester Adjustments | Sure as the World

  8. Pingback: Fun in the Mail « Ducks in the Pond

    • Hey Nichole,
      We purchased the map as a fabric panel from Joann’s Fabrics. (I don’t know if you have one by you, but they are a national chain.) Basically we just did a running stitch around the state borders and a satin stitch down the Mississippi River. We ultimately backed it and turned it into a little quilted wall hanging. You can read more about the map in this post http://sureastheworld.com/2012/08/22/handwork-and-giveaway/

      Let me know if you need any other information. It was a really fun project.

      Sheila

  9. Pingback: Plans for May | Sure as the World

Join the conversation.

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s