How to Teach Geography

One of the main reasons we wrote the Layers of Learning homeschool curriculum was because geography is the poor forgotten third cousin in the world of education, even in homeschooling.  There was no orderly, comprehensive geography series that covered everything.


For years I had searched for a curriculum or series of workbooks or guide or ANYTHING that would cover geography concepts, maps, cultures, physical geography, and the fifty U.S. states in an orderly manner.  If possible I wanted such a curriculum to go from 1st grade to 12th grade with increasing difficulty and thoroughness for my growing kids.  I could find books of maps, cookbooks for food around the world, individual books on countries and states, and lots of workbooks.  But I longed to synthesize these topics into a cohesive and orderly whole.  I wanted something to help my family understand their world in a cohesive way.

Topics To Cover In A Geography Curriculum

Geography should cover these skills and topics:

  • map reading (latitude and longitude, symbols, grids, etc.)
  • map making (projections, measuring, cartography)
  • physical geography (land forms and so on)
  • country studies (location, major cities, culture, demographics, governments)
  • Your Own Country in detail

How To Organize A Geography Study

To coordinate with the 4 year plan, divide up geography into 4 years of study.  The first year, focus on skills and concepts like how to read a map, longitude and latitude, using an atlas, how to draw your own maps, land forms, and biomes.  Also include an overview of each continent on earth.

During the second and third years study countries around the globe.  Focus on culture, religion, government, demographics, landscape, modern history, and the locations of each country.

Do an in-depth study of your own country during Year 4.

Here we are making topographical maps based on a clay mountain we created in the middle of our table.

Layers of Learning Geography

Layers of Learning follows this basic organization for geography.

Year One: Geography concepts, continents, and biomes at elementary, middle school or high school level.  You’ll practice latitude and longitude and many map skills.

Year Two: Countries around the world, being sure to touch on location, culture, brief history, government, current events, and reviewing the concepts from year one on your child’s level.  Every geography unit includes maps as well as many crafts, recipes, and activities.

Year Three: More countries around the world.

Year Four: The fifty US States.  This is an in depth study of the United States and each of the fifty states, with maps to color, recipes, crafts, and activities just like the country studies in Years Two and Three.  Units 4-18 and 4-19 are reserved for a close up look at your state.  Most states require a course on the history and geography of your state and this meets that need with a big portfolio project.

Then, like the rest of the Layers of Learning Homeschool Curriculum, the whole thing repeats.  Your child is four years older and can read more, do more complicated maps, learn more in depth concepts, try out activities you didn’t have time for last time around, and get an excellent review on a whole new level.

Learning geography is really learning to appreciate the diversity of our world.

Use Layers of Learning’s geography program family school style, with all of your kids at once, no matter their age of ability level.  We hope you’ll try it out.  See our catalog for more of what we have to offer. 

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