Curled up on the couch with my children, surrounded by piles of gorgeous picture books, it may not look like we’re doing “school.” But this read-aloud time is actually inspiring curiosity, questions, and wonder about cultures and places all around the world!
Where exactly is Ghana? Why does that bird have a ring around its neck? What color is a duck billed platypus?
These and many other questions start with our read-alouds, and end with us learning more about geography!
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Are you looking for a flexible geography curriculum full of good books and hands-on activities? Connect with your kids through Charlotte Mason-inspired Around the World with Picture Books, a literature-approach to geography from Beautiful Feet Books.
You know that I am a passionate advocate for a textbook-free approach to history. In the same way, we delight in deep dives into countries and geographical regions through read-alouds and hands-on activities. We even enjoy some gentle map practice through puzzles, copy work, or coloring.
But sometimes gathering all the best books together can be a challenge for a busy homeschool mom.
If you want to connect with your kids over good books without having to do all the planning yourself, Around the World with Picture Books is a great option!
Our family has enjoyed the opportunity to read all the gorgeous books in Around the World with Picture Books Part I, which provides a gentle, introductory overview to the geography of Asia, Antarctica, Australia, and Africa for grades K-3.
There are ten chapters and 70 lessons. If you wanted to spread this across an entire year, you could complete ~3 lessons/week, and you’d have time to bring in several of the supplemental books and documentaries recommended throughout the teacher guide.
If you preferred to complete Part I in a semester, just keep your extra plans a bit more simple and complete 4 lessons/week.
Geography Lessons Begin With Good Books
The core component of Around the World with Picture Books is, as the name suggests, the picture books! The 15 books which form the core of the literature-based curriculum include classics from my own childhood like The Story About Ping and many delightful new books like Emmanuel’s Dream.
Maps, a gorgeous oversized book that I have drooled over for years, is the core atlas that will be used throughout the studies. The illustrations are absolutely fantastic!
In addition to the titles included in this set, each chapter includes a “library connection” full of additional recommended titles to flesh out your studies.
Ignite Wonder with Art, Poetry, and Cuisine
You know how much we love coordinating our textbook-free studies with art, poetry, food, and more. I was excited to see that each the Around the World with Picture Books teacher guide encourages this type of connection!
For example, when studying China, you have the opportunity to learn about Chinese brush painting, “one of the oldest continuous artistic traditions in the world,” and to make a delicious Asian noodle soup. While visiting Japan, explore Haiku and Japanese Woodblock Prints. The reproduced paintings by Delacroix give a beautiful glimpse into a specific time in Morocco. And I’m saying a big “YES, please!” to the Thai Green Curry suggested in chapter 3!
These kinds of hands-on projects engage all the senses to reinforce all that you’re learning about the countries and cultures around the world!
Of course, you can’t learn about a country or culture without exploring the plants and animals that make that region unique!
Nature connections abound in Around the World with Picture Books! There are some lovely reproducible prints in the back of the book your children can copy, color, or paint. (You can also download them for free here to see what I mean) You could even print the images on watercolor paper if your children wish to improve their watercolor skills! (I personally like to cheat and use watercolor pencils, and my littlest ones like to color with regular pencils and markers.)
Did you know that the pink flamingo is pink due to the micro-organisms in the food it eats? Did you know that the Barbary apes (macaque) have cheek pouches reaching down the side of their necks that hold as much food as their stomachs? Did you know that the Dorcas gazelle can get all the moisture it needs from plants in order to survive in the desert? Did you know the baobab trees can store up to 25, 000 gallons of water in their trunk?
These are just a few of the fascinating tidbits you and your children will learn in the Around the World with Picture Books lessons!
This flexible curriculum is modeled on the Charlotte Mason-inspired concepts of “read, reason, relate, and record.” After you and your children have read good books together and made connections among the disciplines and ideas, it’s time for your children to record what they have learned.
They can do this orally by answering the gentle questions included thoughout the teacher guide, of course.
But what could be better than creating their own virtual-travel journal? The notebook included in the Around the World with Picture Books has lines for copy work or reading journal notes. You can also glue drawings/paintings on the pages, labelling or describing them on the lines.
I especially like that the notebook is designed to lay flat. With small children, many notebooks can be difficult to use with that horrible hump that forms in the middle near the binding. With mild pressure, each page spread lays flat in this notebook. Less frustration for the children means they can focus more on the fun of notebooking!