North Star Geography

North Star Geography

by Tyler H. Hogan
Publisher: Bright Ideas Press
1st Edition, ©2014, ISBN: 9781892427526
Hardcover, 284 pages
Price: $69.95

This may be our favorite single-volume geography course. Intended for junior and senior high students, the course covers geography skills, physical geography AND human (cultural) geography. It’s written by homeschool graduate Tyler Hogan, a name which should sound familiar to anyone who’s heard of his mother Maggie Hogan, author of Hands-On Geography and The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide. The curricula is flexible enough that it can be used in as little as a semester (the bare bones approach) or it can be slowed down and completed over the course of two years.

How Does This Work?

The book’s introduction includes a list of the numerous activities to be found on the companion CD as well as some detailed scheduling plans for teachers to peruse. The companion CD has a wealth of tools, more tools than one student can use, as the text readily admits. Teachers will have multiple options to accommodate individual student’s learning styles. The volume itself includes only the text for the lessons, so the companion CD is necessary to get the most out of the course. Be aware that the assignments will require either constant access to a printer or putting in the time to print materials beforehand (8-15 printable pages per lesson may take a couple of hours to assemble). The CD also includes an e-version of the text, and can be obtained separately for $10 less.

The course is divided into three units: one for geography skills, one for physical geography, and one for human (cultural) geography. The sixteen lessons are distributed between these units, and each lesson is divided into 3-4 parts which students will complete over the course of one to two weeks along with the relevant assignments. The assignments on the companion CD involve a lot of mapwork, memorization, and independent student research. Students should be able to do these on their own, although some of them may be more fun with another student, group, or co-op.

The text itself is engaging and well-designed. Each lesson contains sidebars that deliver fun geography-related facts. Multiple technical terms are introduced in each lesson, but these are explained very naturally and thoroughly. The glossary in the back explains in further detail some technical terms, and students can complete the vocabulary assignments if desired.

One feature that we particularly appreciated was the practical geography skills section. Among other things it teaches students how to use road maps and how a GPS works.

Our Honest Opinion:

This is an impressive all-in-one curriculum written by a man with an obvious love for geography. It’s well-designed and reasonably priced. Best of all, with its engaging up-to-date text and assignments it may just keep student interest for longer than some drier geography textbooks.

The text is written from a broad Christian worldview. It covers areas such as environmental stewardship from a commendably balanced stance, with a neutral paragraph on environmental extremism and an interview with Jay Wile for a section on climate change. The one exception is in a section on “personal stewardship” in which Hogan warns against “suspected carcinogens” and names parabens, instructing students to switch to paraben free-cleaners and products. Aside from that, he maintains a mostly neutral stance on more controversial subjects, asking students to research for themselves and providing relevant research questions in the assignments.

The volume ends with a section on practical applications for geography, as well as a list of potential geography careers. It’s a course that lays out a convincing case for why geography matters and how students can use it in the real world. It doesn’t rely on gimmicks, but gets you excited about geography in an ultimately genuine way.

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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Customer Reviews
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  A Very Expensive Jumble
Wendy Sanderson of Oregon, 2/16/2019
I was extremely disappointed in this curriculum. The map work does not relate to the text in any way whatsoever. The maps are poor visual quality and have technical flaws. This curriculum is billed by the publisher as having more than you need so that you can choose what is best for your child. That translated to us as a jumble of disconnected items, none of which were of much merit independently, and were of even less collectively. I spent roughly 10 hours trying to create a geography curriculum out of the hodgepodge. It is extremely overpriced by the publisher for what you get. It is one of the only things that I have bought at Exodus that I really disliked. I think it's hard to appreciate what a mess it is until you try to create actual lessons for you child from it.