It's an odd fact that many homeschool families are strong on history, but weak on geography. Geography and history are sister disciplines, each shedding light on the other and necessary for a complete picture of either. The folks at Knowledge Quest have been bridging that gap for some time now, weaving the study of history with the study of the places history happened.
Map Trek - U.S. Editionis one of the best products they've developed. Both a series of history/geography lesson plans and an historical atlas, this book may be used over and over with students of all ages. In fact, many parents have testified to learning as much (or nearly as much) as their kids as they present the material and help their children conduct research.
How Does This Work?
There's just a single CD-ROM. Unlike many programs, you don't need to worry about student texts, workbooks, loose maps, etc.; all you need is this resource. The content on the CD-ROM allows parents to print out all the maps, making this an excellent choice for multiple users.
All maps are in color; there are 53 historical maps, 3 U.S. maps, and 106 student maps. These are historical atlas-style maps for the most part, complete with trade route lines, sites of major battles, former boundaries, etc. Kids can study the maps themselves, and add to them with their own markings; the printable maps include both outline and complete versions.
Lesson plans relate directly to the maps, are laid out chronologically, and are divided into three grade levels. Level A covers grades 1-4, Level B covers grades 5-8, and Level C covers grades 9-12. Assignments for each level are age appropriate; you can either have kids work from content you provide, or guide them in their own research. Grade guidelines are not rigid; if your 6th grader is behind, you can have them do the Level A work, and vice versa.
These maps and lesson plans are laid out in chronological order, so you can use them side-by-side with any chronological history program. In fact, because the maps show the world past and present, theyshouldbe used in this way; again, geography and history are dependent studies, andMap Trek - U.S. Editionbridges the gap.
Multiple children can use this program over multiple years, especially if you follow the grade level assignments in the lesson plans. Repeated use of the same maps, rather than proving redundant, actually reinforces for long-term memory what students have learned.
Our Honest Opinion
Because geography requires lots of memorization and repetition if you expect to cement content in kids' minds, we like this program; because geography and history are so interrelated yet so often separated, we really like this program; because geography isn't something most parents remember too well (mainly due to its insufficient coverage in schools), we really, really like this intuitive and parent-friendly program.
You can useMap Trek - U.S. Editionby itself, but that wouldn't unlock its complete potential. Anchoring these exercises to a solid U.S. history program will both highlight the essential unity of the two subjects, and provide context for the mapwork. This is an excellent geography supplement course that we recommend very highly, though it is important to note that the maps here are historically based; for physical world geography, we recommendWorld Physical Geographyby Barbara Runkle.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
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