Mapping the World with Art is a basic geography course that will give students a visual knowledge of geography by having them hand-draw the countries of the world.
How it works:
The book is divided into sections for the text, the drawing instruction, and the activities section, so you'll have to skip back and forth for each lesson. Students first read a paragraph of history about mapping and exploration in a particular country, island, or sea before drawing it by hand using step-by-step guidelines. They can also follow along on the DVD with the drawing tutorials:
There are three DVDs that contain drawing lessons. The fourth is a pdf of the curriculum with some supplemental digital images. If your student is a good artist or can do well with just the book's guidelines, you could probably get along without the DVDs. But for students who need a little more help, it's worth it to pay a little extra for the tutorials. Plus, Ellen Johnston McHenry explains some of her reasoning for drawing and gives a little history as she draws which will reinforce the lesson.
When the drawings are completed students can choose to do one of the accompanying hands-on activities. These range from culturally or historically relevant activities, to map or exploration themed games, including some detailed board games and even an end of year "where am I" game in which students are given three or four clues and must then guess their location based on those clues, such as:
I'm in Africa but I'm closer to Madrid, Spain, than I would be if I was in Paris. A famous explorer was born in this city. What city am I in?
I am south of the first Aleutian island and west of the tip of Baja California. Where am I?
By the end of the course students should be able to know these answers off the top of their head. The final project has students drawing a large map of the world from memory using only the guidelines of the prime meridian and the equator.
It's a looser curriculum than some. There's no scheduling or lessons, just thirty readings accompanied by thirty activities and fifty drawing lessons. Teachers can incorporate the lessons and many resources into their school schedules as desired.
Our honest opinion:
This is a beautiful way to learn simple geography. Visual learners will find it particularly helpful. It's recommended for ages ten and up, and we'd probably say it'd be helpful up to age fifteen or sixteen. It'd be a nice start to geography, especially if followed up by something like Runkle Geography or North Star Geography in high school.
Review by Lauren Shearer
Lauren Shearer writes words for fun and profit. She also makes films, but everyone knows you can't make a profit doing that. Her other hobby is consistently volunteering way too much of her time. You can read more of her reviews here
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