I’ve recently found the most incredible U.S. geography curriculum, thanks to Brookdale House and the Schoolhouse Review Crew!
Brookdale House generously provided a printable/digital copy of their Drawing Around the World: USA geography course for us. It has opened the door to a marvelous way of teaching geography to us that eliminates entirely the tired old “drill and kill” method of memorizing states and capitals…yet still firmly embeds the teaching in the student’s mind and memory.
About Brookdale House
Brookdale House is a curriculum company whose main focus is to provide materials so that students children can learn inductively in a simple, child-focused learning manner. Their curricula topics include writing, history, foreign language, grammar, Bible, and geography. Each of these products enables students to learn in an enjoyable, yet thorough, manner. And students aren’t the only ones who’ll find these lessons pleasant; parents and teachers will as well.
Drawing Around the World: USA is honestly and sincerely the geography course I’ve been looking for all my homeschooling life! The lessons, designed for grades 4-12, are engaging and enjoyable while still being highly effective. They build on a pleasant repetition of information, so that each day the student has a lesson which engages different skills and different parts of the brain. Students draw, write, look up state information, and create accurate maps of the parts of the U.S. they’re studying. They begin with a blank map of the U.S., drawing in the first state taught. Then, with each successive week, they draw more and more states and fill in more of the entire U.S. map. By the end of the curriculum, they’ll be able to draw every state in the Union on the country’s map, and identify/place its capital!
Lessons are laid out clearly and simply for both teachers and students. Each week, the same pattern is followed:
- Day 1: Learn about the new state(s). Record basic information about it (them). Draw the state and mark its capital on the map. Draw as well the other states that have been learned.
- Day 2: Draw the new state, its capital, and all other states studied on a blank map.
- Day 3: Repeat the activities of Day 2.
- Day 4: Record the names of the states and capitals covered this week and in previous lessons. Draw them all on a U.S. map. Do all of these without looking back at other lessons.
How easy is that? The student is learning gently, day by day, the states, capitals and their locations on a U.S. map. The relaxed manner of learning still firmly deposits the information in the student’s memory…without tears, frustration or boredom.
How we used this geography course:
The course is laid out for a 4-day week, which is perfect if you have coops or outside classes. It also gives you a free day for review if you believe you need it (although I never sensed we did). Normally we did the Drawing Around the World: USA lessons 3-4 days per week. And, ours was a digital/printable resource, so the first thing I did was to print the curriculum, punch holes in it and place it in a binder.
During the first week, I walked through every lesson with my son Jackson (who’s in 8th grade), and he did all the drawing and looking up. After that, I just recorded which day we were doing on the lesson plan and he completed them himself, although I checked his work afterwards. This geography curriculum also provides links to geography websites (or provides book lists of resources you can get from the library) so that students can look up information about each state. Once we’d bookmarked the one we used, he could access it without my help.
In order to provide additional drawing assistance, I also gave him a clear transparency sheet so that he could trace the states’ shapes with a dry-erase marker, for additional practice.
I LOVE this curriculum. I always loved geography as a girl, but for some reason I’ve found it rather cumbersome and unenjoyable to teach. Maybe that was the curriculum, though, because teaching geography with Drawing Around the World: USA has been an utter joy. Because it’s not based on “memorize, memorize, memorize,” but instead uses gentle repetition of drawing the states again and again, the student really DOES learn! And it really is a pleasure. Yesterday, as a matter of fact, Jackson noticed that he’d neglected to list the states and their capitals on the previous week’s lesson. And he said, “Oh, I forgot to do this,” and proceeded to jot all of them down before he began the current lesson. He knew every one, and wrote them down down without irritation or much thought. That tells me about the great methods used by Brookdale House AND how well he’s learning these states!
It has also been the perfect adjunct to our American history studies this year, which focus more on the events of the first few centuries of America than they do the geography of the country or states.
Here’s what my son Jackson had to say: “It is a nice curriculum to improve knowledge of the 50 states, and drawing skills. It is a good course for mixed age groups.”
It was also very easy for me as the teacher; it required no stringent organization or planning from me. I just checked his work, made corrections as necessary, and assigned work for each day. Bonanza!
I highly, highly recommend Drawing Around the World: USA, which can purchased from Brookdale House. (As a matter of fact, I’m planning to use Drawing Around the World: Europe when we finish the U.S. study!) I can’t say enough about the gentle effectiveness and honest pleasure it is to use this for learning geography. In addition, other members of the Schoolhouse Review Crew received a variety of other Brookdale House curricula to review. You can see those other reviews by clicking the banner below.
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