If you are teaching geography this year, start right in your neighborhood with landforms, fauna (animals), flora (plants), and climate/weather.
If you are on break or not teaching geography this year, whet your children’s appetite for geography by observing and exploring the geography all around you.
There are no mountains and very few hills in my home state (Florida) but there are a lot of lakes, streams, springs, and rivers. We also have swamps, forests, and grasslands all within a 10-minute drive. There are manmade retention ponds in my neighborhood that animals call home. We can go further afield to find beaches, oceans, estuaries, islands, and inlets.
Start with your backyard. Maybe you live on a hill or mountain. Or maybe your neighborhood has a stream, lake, or river in it. Your kids would already know they live on a mountain or near a stream so you can just tell them that a mountain is a landform.
You can go on a photo scavenger hunt and take pictures of all the landforms you find nearby. Then print them up with a blank line underneath and kids can label them.
You can talk about elevation and how since the river is flowing from higher ground to lower ground suddenly, the water “falls” down. When people make canals that run from a higher elevation to a lower one, they have to build locks. God just created lovely waterfalls.
Flora & Fauna (Plants & Animals)
Plant and animal life is everywhere – even in the suburbs you can find ants, grasshoppers, squirrels, and birds. In our neighborhood, there are alligators, lizards, squirrels, moles, ants, grasshoppers, ducks, birds, and snakes.
You can do another photo scavenger hunt with animals and plants. What are you favorite plants, flowers, and trees on your block. What animals are super fun to see. We have sandhill cranes that roam our neighborhood. Take pictures of your favorite plants and animals so you can look them up online or in field guides to find their scientific names – this is fun!
A cheap pair of binoculars gives everyone a closer view of birds. And I’d prefer to look at snakes through them, too, rather than up close.
Keeping a simple weather chart is a great way to discover weather patterns. In the summer, it is sunny in the morning here, but late in the afternoon, thunderstorms often roll in.
We can go online to see the storm tracker and notice that these storms often start on the west coast and travel across the state.
Have any storms hit your neighborhood? Hurricanes? Tornadoes?
Fitting It All Together
After you investigate your neighborhood, you can see how everything fits together. The alligator lives in the lake across the street where the ducks swim. The lizards scurry around everywhere eating bugs and ants.
What happens during a storm? Do all the animals take cover?
Can you find any bird nests? We saw an eagle one day swoop down and grab a black racer (snake) for lunch.
So much happens under our nose that we don’t always notice. There is so much to learn right in your backyard, across the street, and around the corner.
Until next time, Happy Homeschooling.