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Geography: A Literature Approach

Genre: Geography


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Geography: A Literature Approach

Ask any homeschool mom what she wants from curriculum, and she’ll probably say she wants something that is easy to use and affordable. Geography: A Literature Approach fulfills that request! The study guide incorporates geography, history, and science in a Charlotte Mason-style approach, using the award-winning Holling C. Holling books: Paddle-to-the-Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, Tree in the Trail, and Seabird. A separate set of maps for students to color and label as they work through the study is available separately for purchase. The best advantage of this curriculum is that a wide range of ages can use it, with modifications:

For younger students (2nd-3rd grade) simplicity is advised. For example, at this level when using the Great Lakes map, primary students would learn the names of each of the Great Lakes, bordering state names, Canada, the St. Lawrence Seaway, and the Atlantic Ocean. They could narrate Paddle-to-the-Sea’s story tracing on the map his route and the names of the places through which he traveled. Intermediate students would learn the above in addition to state capitals, various industries on the Great Lakes, and the different industries these fuel. Students at this level should be required to keep a notebook recording findings from the various research projects which can include historical figures who impacted these regions, various aspects of the ecology of the Great Lakes, plant and animal life, etc.

Geography: A Literature Approach is divided into four sections, one for each book. Many suggestions are given to extend the lessons to include vocabulary, writing, research, and literary analysis. The geography study covers three main regions of the United States, Canada and a broad sweep of the world.  Each Holling book is the basis for a study of nine to ten lessons.  This study can be completed over the course of a semester or an entire year, depending upon how many lessons you complete per week. It could also make an excellent summer unit study. An example of how the lessons cross the curriculum is found in Lesson 4 of Minn of the Mississippi:

1. Read Chapters 6-7 of Minn of the Mississippi.

2. Write definitions of geology, botany, anthropology and zoology in glossary.

3. Define the roots of the word Minneapolis. Record in glossary.

4. Label on map the Twin Cities of St. Paul and Minneapolis. Discuss why manufacturing became a major industry in Minneapolis. What two important rivers converge at the Twin Cities?

Completing all of these activities would involve literature, writing, vocabulary, research, geography, science, history, and critical thinking.  I like being able to decide how deeply my children study while considering their ages, interests, and abilities.

The shortcomings of Geography: A Literature Approach are:

  • There are no map keys in the guide. I find myself scrambling to find all the points on the maps. Including a map for each book in the appropriate section of the study guide for parental reference would save time and frustration.
  • Several of the suggested titles for further research are out of print.

My favorite things about Geography: A Literature Approach are:

  • It’s simple and affordable. The guide is only seventeen pages in length, yet there is enough content to cover a year’s worth of geography, or a complete unit study.
  • The books utilized are excellent. They are illustrated beautifully (Caldecott Honor winners), and Holling’s descriptive writing appeals to a wide range of ages.
  • The research topics are clear and specific so that students know exactly how to complete the project. Students will learn that knowing how to find information is just as important as the information itself.
  • The maps are big and printed on art-quality paper. Students will create display-worthy keepsakes.
  • It appeals to multiple learning styles, particularly visual learners. Coloring and labeling the maps are additional paths of learning to grasp the information thoroughly. Students can include as much or as little detail as desired.
  • Institute for Excellence in Writing has a writing curriculum that incorporates Geography: A Literature Approach (Geography-Based Writing Lessons: Incorporating Beautiful Feet Book’s Geography Through Literature Course).

The “living book” approach to geography is unique since literature becomes the basis for the study. With three boys in vastly different age categories, I want curriculum that is easy to use and engaging. I appreciate one affordable product all three of them can use, which allows me not to waste time or resources. I think my boys will look back on the time they spent gathered around the kitchen table, coloring and labeling their maps while I read aloud, as a special and unique part of their homeschool years.

About Anne Campbell

Anne Campbell is the mother to three boys (who think they live in a zoo!) and a homeschooler for the past eleven years with the support of her husband of 26 years. A former classroom teacher, Anne loves to share resources and ideas and encourage other homeschooling parents through her job as Managing Editor of Blog. When she started on her homeschool journey, Anne’s oldest son was in kindergarten, and they decided to take it one day at a time, one year at a time. Now she has one student in high school, one in middle, and one in elementary, and all still at home. You can read more by Anne at her blog, Learning Table.

Last Updated: December 28, 2012

(1) Leave Your Opinion

  1. Going Here
    February 22, 2014 at 5:53 am

    Excellent blog! Do you have any tips and hints for aspiring writers? I'm planning to start my own website soon but I'm a little lost on everything. Would you propose starting with a free platform like Wordpress or go for a paid option? There are so many choices out there that I'm totally overwhelmed .. Any suggestions? Cheers!

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Quick Overview

paperback, 17 pages
Retail Price:
guide: $12.95
four 18 x 24" map set: $16.95
additional student map set: $12.95
each Holling C. Holling paperback book: $9.95 (4 total)
for all grades with modifications
hands-on, literature intensive; multiple ages can use together
map key not provided in guide
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