Saturday, March 03, 2012

blobbing the continents

UPDATED:  If you're interested in further "blobbing the continents" posts as we progress through our map-making lessons, please look for the label geography in the right sidebar or click on the word in this sentence.
ANOTHER UPDATE:  I just found out that Knowledge Quest has available for free, downloadable maps that have the great circles already marked with the correct markings for latitude and longitude.  They have maps that cover all the major regions of the world in pdf format available here.  These maps are perfect for learning geography and drawing your own maps.

Several weeks ago when a friend who recently started homeschooling her boys came over for a visit, one of the questions she asked was, "And what do you do for geography?". I weakly smiled and said something like, "Well, we haven't worked specifically on it for a bit." What I meant was, we have worked previously on the seven continents and four oceans, the Canadian provinces and the American states, using Uncle Josh's Outline Maps. We have all five Geopuzzles which are pulled out as a review or as a beginner crash course in a region. We do mapwork with our history lessons, for example by identifying the size of the Muslim Empire during the Middle Ages. But since I don't have a separate geography curriculum, it was kind of hard to pull all that together into an answer at the moment I was asked. The next day I got out my copy of Leigh Bortin's The Core: Teaching Your Child the Foundations of Classical Education to figure out how to implement her chapter on geography.

She advocates that the best way for people to understand and know geography is to make their own maps. So the first step for younger children and novice adults is to make a grid on a piece of paper marking the five great circles of the Earth and then complete what she refers to as "blobbing the continents".

This blobbing(or circle-drawing)is intended for students to be able to place the seven continents correctly on the latitude lines. I decided to skip the blob stage with Seth and go right for copying the outline shape of the continents. Younger students may find that too difficult, so the blobs are a good first step.

Using an atlas with a map of the world marking these five latitude lines, Seth and I copied general outlines of the continents' shapes and where they extend on the latitude lines. We also then labeled them and marked the oceans around each land mass. That was enough for Seth, for his first time. I found it relaxing and interesting; Seth was glad to be done. :)

This is Seth's first attempt, which came out very nicely, all things considered.

This is mine which has fainter sketched lines.

I found these two sites to be helpful to get us started:

This blog appears to only have been short-lived and most of the entries are geography related so you may have to click around to see all the related posts.

Well-Trained Mind Forums
Scroll down until you find an entry by "NittanyJen" giving detailed directions on how to set up the paper and mark the lines.

The next step recommended in Leigh's book is to pick one continent and focus on mastering it by drawing it correctly and quickly. This may last several weeks or for a whole semester. She recommends starting with South America since it only has 13 countries and the outline is fairly simply comparatively speaking. I kind of wanted to conquer North America. I haven't decided yet, but in the meantime, we are continuing to study the maps of individual provinces of Canada, locating major rivers, lakes, mountains and cities and reviewing the fifty US states. That will keep us busy for a while. :)

1 comment:

  1. Thanks Heather for this nice post. As a fellow blogger, your post reminds me that the information we put out there can be very helpful to others. :) I'll be looking up all the resources you mentioned. For years since I've read Leigh's book I wanted to get my kids to start "blobbing", we did a little and then stopped. This year, however, I want it to be a more organized component of our homeschool. I hope you all have any amazing school year!


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