I tried for a short time to use a geography curriculum, I really did, but it didn’t work, so now I teach geography without a curriculum to my kids. It makes our homeschool geography more fun, and one they look forward to.
My method is the same regardless if it’s a country study or a state study.
First I pick the place we are going to study
Right now for our United States geography, I am moving across the country from West to East. For no other reason than I haven’t particularly studied it that way before. We studied Alaska, Hawaii, and just finished California.
For country studies, we are right now studying Europe, primarily because Superman really likes Italy, and Princess had a friend who likes France. Batman was cheering for Asia. He lost. Starting this coming week we will be learning about Ireland (oh my Future Ticia 2022 says I super need to update that post).
Future Ticia 2022 also wants to add I learned just studying through one continent can cause problems as you cook dishes from each country and you run into several countries with similar flavor profiles and people don’t like that flavor profile. If you’re hopping all over the world you don’t constantly frustrate people with the meal.
Next, since I teach geography without a curriculum I do some research
Research means I hit up my local library website and type in the country name.
That will pull up anywhere from none to 50 books. I start checking out what the books are about, if they are just listed because they were published in that area, or if they’re really about that area.
If I’m still needing more books, I’ll do a quick Google search like “Famous people from ______” or “Famous events from _________.” One good thing about being a history buff, I often have an idea what happened in a location, but I’ll freely admit I don’t know many events from Idaho or Suriname.
If I still come up with nothing I head over to YouTube and there are a few YouTube channels I’ve found that cover geography:
- Geography Now– this channel is going through countries in alphabetical order, at the point I’m updating this in 2022 they’re all the way up to “S”
- Homeschool Pop– use this with your elementary or younger kids, Future Ticia 2022 says her high schoolers spend all their time mocking it. They do thoroughly enjoy doing that…
- Nick Johnson– this is going to be only for your older kids because he’s filming for adult audiences and occasionally there are some jokes or topics covered you might not want to cover with kids (Future Ticia 2022 adds, I’ve only recently found this channel and only watched a few videos, later in the year Ticia 2022 rarely uses his videos because they can be a bit longer, still looking for a good United States geography channel)
- Any other Youtube channels you would suggest?
Sometimes I just have to search Wikipedia and other sites to get some kind of information to share with my kids. There are over 200 countries in the world and it can be hard to find any books on a country smaller than Rhode Island.
Or you could head over to Bethany’s and check out her homeschool geography with some great story suggestions.
Some great websites to inspire you with information for United States Geography
- 50 States– this will give you famous people, random facts (what state has the biggest ball of yarn), state mottos or flowers
- State symbols website– Just click on the state and you will get all the information you need
- Sleeping Bear Press Teacher’s Guides– Sleeping Bear Press makes alphabet books on many different topics, so there is one for all 50 states, as well as many countries
Some great websites to inspire you with information for the World
Duckster geography– You can find information by both continent and by country
Honestly, there’s not a lot of generic stuff, do you have any you go to?
All right you have some cool books, and some fun facts, now what?
Now, you start reading. I read the books ahead of time, and then come up with an activity based on the book. Sometimes it’s a mini-book with a short answer to what’s going on.
Other times, it’s more complex and it’s a craft.
It all depends on what seems right for that project. I’m going through and adding in all of the geography printables I’ve made so far, it’s taking time, so hopefully, by the end of this summer, we will have it done.
For right now to get you started, I’m adding another subscriber freebie for anyone getting my newsletter.
United States Notebooking pages
So, once upon a time, I bought these amazing United States notebooking pages, and I’ve been using them, but you know what? They’re no longer available. As near as I can tell the person who made it deleted the files from their store, so I made something eerily similar, with a few additions, and a few things are taken out. You can buy the United States Notebooking pages, or join my newsletter and get a coupon to get them for free.
As I complete a state study or update my state study from 5 years ago I’m putting up that state’s notebooking pages.
Okay, Future Ticia 2022, I’ve not got notebooking pages for pretty much every continent, and I have country studies for over 50 countries up so far.
- North America notebooking pages
- South America notebooking pages
- Asia notebooking pages
- Africa notebooking pages
- Oceania notebooking pages
(apparently I still need to upload these)
Okay, that’s the boring stuff, but what about the fun? I thought the whole point of no geography curriculum was to have more fun with geography.
And you’re right, that’s where the next part comes in, the hands-on manipulatives.
For that you can read these posts where I flesh that out even more:
- Creating a hands on world geography unit
- Using puzzles to teach geography
- Cooking Around the World– you can almost always find a recipe for a country, even if that country is smaller than your neighborhood (I’m looking at you Vatican City)
And two games we use for our geography: Destination USA and 10 Days in Europe (substitute the correct continent you’re studying).
Also, you know those books I mentioned up above? As we read the books we do activities with them, OR if we’re studying an artist from that country we attempt to do artwork in their style. That has all sorts of unique results when we do that.
But seriously Ticia, what does that look like?
I hear you, you want to KNOW how you can teach homeschool geography without a curriculum.
Good news, I have dozens of posts that talk about that. I’ve linked to several of those posts all throughout this post, and I’m in the process of creating some more landing pages to point you towards a more organized version of this.
- United States Geography Unit (50 States Study)
- Asia Unit
- Europe Unit
- North America Unit
- South America Unit
- Oceania Unit
- Africa Unit
Future Ticia 2022 here, as you can see at the point I’m updating this post, April 18, I’ve only got the Europe unit out.
Lots of ideas here Ticia! Another one i’m book marking. Thank you!
Glad to help you 🙂
Almost Unschoolers says
Your geography looks a lot like our science 🙂 At least the elementary science – we added a couple text books in for high school. I’m really missing the excellent library from our old town. But, I like this approach for geography, too.
I am so incredibly thankful I have an amazing library.
Natalie PlanetSmartyPants says
I completely agree – no curriculum is needed to teach geography if you are passionate about it. I think you are doing a fantastic job with it.
You’re right, I think most subjects can be taught without curriculum, IF you are passionate and know the material.
Where can I find the pages I will need about Hawaii. I’m so new at this homeschooling thing and sometimes feel so lost. I was looking at your website and wow you are an amazing teacher to your kids. We are going to Hawaii and I wanted learn somethings pertaining to the state before we go.
Thanks for your detailed work your site is a wealth of knowledge.
You’re welcome! I love to help other homeschoolers, so I’m glad to hear my site has achieved one of its goals of helping others.
You can find all we did for the Hawaii pages here on the Hawaii post. Also, if you subscribe, you’ll get access to the subscriber page that has all of the individual states notebooking pages I have done so far.
Debbie N says
This is very much like I did our geography! I did world geo units in grades 2, 3, and 5 and US states in grade 4. My youngest just finished–I’m sad! I also made use of fun YouTube videos and the books Around the World in 80 Tales, Children Just Like Me, Geography from A to Z, The Not-for-Parents Travel Book, and sometimes Draw-Write-Now books. We sometimes (but not every unit) incorporated games, food, notebooking pages (including maps and flag pages), movies, and art/crafts. I also have continent boxes. Geography is probably my favorite subject to teach!