Thursday, September 3, 2015


In the early grades, I've come to follow a philosophy of believing that exposure is more important than memorizing a bunch of facts. I want to focus more on establishing a familiarity with various areas of knowledge rather than the ability to spit out lots of facts. My thought is that I'm building up a scaffold of information that, given time and experience, my children can build upon. Some areas of knowledge will get built upon more in-depth than others, depending on the interests and needs of each child. My job as their teacher, is to establish that scaffolding.

So last year, part of the scaffolding I wanted to build in my daughter was to introduce some basic geography terms. I used the book Geography From A to Z by Jack Knowlton to accomplish this.

I love this book, because it can be adapted to a wide range of ages. The first time I used it was with my now teenage daughter when she was in the 8th grade. We had a lot of other material to cover, so didn't spend a whole lot of time with it, but I discovered that if we went over 2-3 terms each week, we could stretch the book out over a single school year and it only took a few minutes a day. With my youngest, I decided I wanted to spend a little more time with it, and to my delight found some great FREE resources that we were able to utilize.  I actually ended up creating an entire Pinterest board for the book.

I was delighted to discover this amazing labor-of-love resource from Jennifer over at MamaJenn. She created printable copywork and illustration pages covering EVERY main term found in the book! Best of all, it's a FREE download. I printed the pages out and then used my comb binder to put all the pages together as a workbook (I scanned and printed a color copy of the book cover onto cardstock to use as the cover of the workbook).

Again, 2 or 3 times a week, we spent a few minutes going over a single term from the book. Since my daughter was only in 2nd grade, I decided to not require her to copy the entire definition, but only a key part (for an older student, it would be a good idea to copy the entire thing). I would underline the part I wanted her to copy. For each term, I also sought out either an image or a video to help her get a better understanding and internal image of the land form. Each of these I saved on the Pinterest board. These were added as we covered them and so, due to the limitations of Pinterest at this time, when you look at the board, you'll have to work your way up from the bottom. I am hoping that one of these days, Pinterest will allow for rearranging pins within a board. When that happens, I will fix that board to be more user-friendly.

Julie, over at Butterflies & Barefoot Lasses created some notebooking pages as well. I printed out the photos she includes in her FREE download and had my daughter cut these out and glue them into her workbook. This way she had both her own illustration and an actual photograph of the landform.

Here are a couple more sample pages from what my daughter did last year as a second grader:

Now she has not only a great keepsake, but also a quick and easy reference that she created. In this coming school year, as we study American History, a number of these terms will come up (The Strait of Magellan for example). Because of this project from last year, these terms will have more meaning to her as they come up in her reading. Even if she doesn't remember the meaning specifically, my daughter will know where she can go to review.

Among the other resources you'll find by going to my Pinterest board for this book is a FREE printable Landforms Memory Game from Layers of Learning. Print on cardstock (laminate if you expect to use them with multiple children--I didn't bother since I'll only use it with one) and use for additional review!

You'll find that, for the most part, when I save printable resources on my Pinterest, they are FREE. From my experience, for every printable out there where there is a cost involved, someone else has made something similar that is free. Everyone's priorities are different, and so for some it's easier to go ahead and purchase printables the first time one is found that fits a need. And for classroom teachers, this is often especially the case. But for me, money is tight, and particularly because I'm down to my last child to teach, I have chosen to focus on finding FREE. And so when you explore my Pinterest, you will find just that...lots and lots of FREE printable resources.

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