Current Events and Geography

This year I’ve made some amazing discoveries for use in our homeschooling day with regard to current events and geography.

My first discovery – my kids don’t have a clue about world geography and current events. It’s super funny to me because we talk about the news and stuff that’s going on in the world – and they have virtually no retention or context. We don’t have cable, so we don’t watch the news, but we listen on the radio, we’re politically active, and we read the paper. Apparently, that’s not enough!

So this year we started watching CNN Student News. It’s a free service that provides 10 minutes of commercial free news aimed at Middle and High School students. It’s excellent. The kids love it and I think it’s fascinating. It’s definitely a favorite part of our day!

After watching the news the other day I asked the kids to place a couple of the locations on a map… Fail. Again! This one is also hysterical to me since we’ve DONE geography. Apparently, it didn’t stick. So I came up with a plan…

First, we printed out a huge map of the Middle East, since that’s were most of the news is happening right now. We used THIS WEBSITE to customize our map, since you can print a billion maps there – any size you want. It’s awesome. I think HUGE things are fun, so we went 4×4′.

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Each day we add a little more detail to the map. Countries, capitals, major waterways, flags, etc. (I found some flags online and printed them small, and then we cut and pasted them on the map.) When we watch the news, we make sure we take a look at the map and locate any specific places or locations. I think it’s helping the kids with context A TON and I’m super pleased about it. I know it’s helping me a lot!

The last part of our “FIX OUR TOTAL LACK OF GEOGRAPHIC AWARENESS” problem (LOL!!) is that we started using Sheppard Software’s FREE online games again. We used them for US geography and we’re currently practicing on all the Middle East geography games. If you haven’t used their site – do it!! TODAY!! It’s amazing and free and fabulous and covers the whole globe!

I have to say, this geography system is just one more reason why I love this Middle School stage – and homeschooling. It’s so much fun to learn together and to have discussions about Abraham walking past the same river when he left Ur where just this week US supported troops just took control of the critical dam near Baghdad from ISIS terrorists – and why water is so critical to the region. Awesome stuff!!!

Games with Kids

I am always on the lookout for fun games with kids. By “fun” I mean “not torturous”. Our current favorite game is Farkle. You really don’t need to buy the set – just get 6 dice and read the directions on line. It’s a lot of fun and you can knock out a game in 15 minutes. The kids can keep score (adding only … unless anyone infers a “nasty tax” for discouraging speech to a sibling… strangely that rule isn’t in the “official” rules, LOL!!). Once you get the dice rolling down to where it’s not annoying – hence the sheet pan and silpat liner – its a blast!