Saturday, March 03, 2012

blobbing the continents (updated: Not a great method)

**I could delete this post and others like it, but I would prefer to revise it as a record of my own education. I have though removed the images from the mentioned book and links. The original images have been shared countless times on Pinterest but I cannot undo that.**
I no longer ascribe to this method of studying geography and would steer any reader far away from following my ideas or suggestions in the original post. Last year while meeting virtually with some of the moms in our local Charlotte Mason study group, the topic of geography and mapwork came up and I volunteered what I had done with my oldest and what I was currently doing with my youngest which is what is described below. 
One of the moms who was newer to reading CM herself offered a different suggestion which was based on what she had found when reading the methods and ideas of CM on geography. I was humbled by her gracious and insightful knowledge in an area in which I was still following blindly the newer models of education that claimed to be ancient.
Read for yourself. It's not complicated. Read what Charlotte Mason said to do and then get out the maps, globes or atlases and follow her methods. She wrote geography books and readers which are easy to read and use. Do not look on Pinterest or Instagram. Look at your children and talk about the places you are reading about while looking at maps together. The stories and people you are reading about will make you care about the places. Don't overthink it, it's a joy to know our Earth and the places that have been called home by our fellow-man. You will learn much more than you ever could from naming the continents or drawing the five great circles. You will care about what you know which is most important.
"Geographies," said the geographer, "are the finest books of all. They never go out of fashion. It is extremely rare for a mountain to change position. It is extremely rare for an ocean to be drained of its water. We write eternal things." (The Little Prince)

ORIGINAL POST with some images and links removed. 

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.

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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