Monday, October 19, 2015

{Review} Drawing Around the World: Europe

If you were to ask Amber the one area she feels the least confident in her scholarly pursuits, she would answer without hesitation: Geography. We do include geography and mapping in our history studies, but for Amber it doesn't seem to be enough. She has always been fascinated by globes and maps, yet feels her knowledge is inadequate. Amber was understandably delighted with the opportunity to review Drawing Around the World: Europe from Brookdale House.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Drawing Around the World: Europe from Brookdale House. A fun and easy way to learn geography.

Drawing Around the World: Europe, which is part of The Geography Drawing series, is designed for grades 4 through 12. We received a digital download of the product and although the book is in e-book format, there is no way around the fact it does need to be printed for use. So, of course the first thing we did was print, laminate and spiral bind our copy of the book. The book is roughly 250 pages, however many of the pages are identical map drawing bases that we printed only once and then laminated for re-usability putting our total printed amount right at 50 pages.  

A teacher's guide is not necessary for this geography curriculum since it includes detailed use instructions in the first few pages. While the student will need resources to complete the Country Fact Tables, several free websites are recommended with the book. We chose to use a world atlas we had at home already. These fact tables are little gems which help the student learn the main geographic information about the country as well as some cultural facts.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Drawing Around the World: Europe from Brookdale House. A fun and easy way to learn geography.
Our printed copy and one of Amber's fact tables
The book sets out a possible four day schedule for the students to use with each week's country or countries. Some weeks the student will study only a single country, while other weeks several related (and usually small) countries are studied together. It is recommended on the first day of the week the students study the new country by completing the fact table, along with locating and labeling the new country on the Europe map base, and then finally free hand drawing all countries studied so far on the blank map base. Days two and three are simply drawing on the Europe map base and the blank map base again. The final day is listing from memory all the European countries studied to date as well as drawing them from memory.

The curriculum is very adaptive, and we took full advantage of this by customizing it to suit our needs and schedule. Firstly, as mentioned, we laminated the European map base, the blank map base, and the country listing page so Amber could re-use them each day. She still did all the drawing work, but with wet erase markers. This saved us a significant amount of paper when printing and Amber liked this idea much better than having many pages of drawn maps.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Drawing Around the World: Europe from Brookdale House. A fun and easy way to learn geography.
Free hand drawing of countries so far and another fact table.
Instead of a four day schedule, we opted for a 1 to 2 day schedule on each country. I know this does not encourage the memorization as expected, but Amber was not going to be able to complete the day four memory listings and drawings with her variable cognitive abilities. We've learned from past experiences to avoid as much required memorization work as possible. It might be in Amber's brain, but putting her on the spot like that with a weekly assignment causes too much anxiety.

Additionally, when we looked over the country fact tables there was requested information not included in our world atlas. Of course Amber could have used the suggested online resources to find the missing information, however our atlas included additional information not requested that she was very interested in noting. I made the decision to allow her to substitute other types of information on the fact tables. Amber was still learning about the geographic location and the people of each country.

Unexpected Homeschool Review: Drawing Around the World: Europe from Brookdale House. A fun and easy way to learn geography.
Working on her fact tables and a finished Europe drawing
I honestly wasn't sure what Amber would think of the curriculum after we had made our alterations, however she has enjoyed every minute of her study with Drawing Around the World: Europe. She quite willingly works on more than one country at a time and often mentions her geography lessons when I don't have them scheduled on a particular day. This is definitely high praise from her!

The few minutes needed each day to use Drawing Around the World: Europe are well worth the time. It is an enjoyable way to learn the geography of Europe as well as little bits of cultural and ethnic information too. This book makes a great stand alone geography curriculum while not detracting from any geography or map work being studied in other subjects.

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3 comments:

  1. Christy this looks so awesome. Keilee has always LOVED maps of any kind. The only drawback I see is printing 250 pages. EEP. But it looks great!

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    1. Karen, I didn't print anywhere near 250 pages because so many are a repeat of the dashed-line map, the free drawing map, and the country list. Although I laminated a single copy of the pages for Amber to reuse, you could also just use a sheet protector with dry erase markers and reuse the pages that way too. Ours was probably only about 50 pages - one page for each country, 2 map pages and one country list page.

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  2. You definitely don't need to print every single page. :) And it's a very adaptable program.

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