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Category: Geography

Shortly after I posted about Homemade Magnetic Map of Africa, I decided to make a more challenging magnetic map of Africa for Satori. They are now all white instead of color, thus the added challenge of not accidentally memorizing countries by color (and my original vision). In this second version, I also made it larger, using up two magnetic pages instead of one. It’s now approximately 12″x12″.

Here’s the completed map on a whiteboard. I took out Angola to show that it really is a cut-up puzzle. If you click on it, you can see a larger image, with the separate pieces being more visible.

This time I uploaded these two pages in case anyone wants to use these to print out their own version. I recommend cutting out the countries you can from the bottom map, and then cutting out whatever countries still needed from the top, as there are some redundancies. Feel free to click on these images to see the full-size and download them for yourself!

Africa (top)

Africa (bottom)

The pieces are larger and I’m not so worried about losing them. To see how tiny they were before, here’s a look at Senegal and Gambia, next to my scissors for comparison.

Here’s a selection of country pieces with our latest version. Going from left to right, we have Egypt, Togo/Benin combo, Algeria, and Kenya. You can see one of the largest and the smallest pieces, alongside a ruler for reference. I kept the tiniest countries together (Senegal/Gambia, Togo/Benin, Ruwanda/Burundi).

Because I am not as good at Satori at identifying the country shapes, when I first attempted putting this puzzle together, I kept calling Satori over to ask her which country it was. She’d take the piece, rotate it, and within 2 seconds state the name. After tiring of this, she set this globe in front of me so I wouldn’t bother her anymore. 🙂

I have to say, I have no problems with the online geography game websites, but this white blank puzzle was tough for me. After completing it a few times, I now am much more familiar with the country shapes. This endeavor has been well worth the effort!

One thing I learned back when we studied the United States is that Satori has an uncanny spatial memory when it comes to shapes of states. Learning Africa was absolutely no exception! The past month she’s been drawing Africa maps, coloring them in, labeling them…

Doing the Africa GeoPuzzle a few times…

We’ve worked with Shepphard Software and Seterra now and then… Examining all our maps and globes…

Within a few weeks, Satori has all her Africa countries, names, shapes, major geography features memorized, as well as most capitals. I was searching for some way to challenge her more and I thought of a puzzle we could make at home where we wouldn’t label the country names. I think this was more for my benefit, so I could figure out a way to get as good as Satori in memorizing country shapes.

I know you can use the above websites for challenging games that will tackle these skills. But I thought being able to physically manipulate country shapes would be super fun. I had some magnetic sheets lying around, and thought it would be even more cool if we made a magnetic puzzle.

If you already own a printer, you can make your own magnetic maps for just $7.49 with these full-page Avery Magnet Sheets (set of 5). They say they are for Ink Jet printers, but I printed our map on a laser printer and it turned out just fine.

At first I was going to leave it black and white for the ultimate challenge. Then I realized I would probably photo-blog about it, so we ended up coloring them in. Had I known we’d end up coloring the countries, I would’ve just printed them out in color in the first place. Maybe I’ll make another one. If I do, I will print it out on two sheets, to make bigger countries.

After Satori and I colored in all the countries, I carefully cut them apart. It wasn’t as excruciating job as I thought it would be. Here are all the African countries, including island countries.

Our first inclination was to piece together the puzzle on our magnetic whiteboard. However, some of the pieces are tiny and gravity made them fall when we tried picking them up from the board.

Closer look…

The completed puzzle.

 

Eventually we used one of the magnetic sheets itself to put the puzzle together. It will also make nice storage, I’ll just put it all in a zip bag and we’re done!

Satori’s knowledge (and mom’s) has come in so handy already! The latest National Geographic magazines had articles on several African countries, so we were able to visualize exactly where the volcano was, where the elusive Coelacanth fish was found, and more. Coincidentally, we had a chance to hang out with two people from Africa – David’s coworker from South Africa, and Satori’s friend’s dad from Zimbabwe. She was able to answer their geography questions perfectly. What’s the northernmost African country? (Tunisia) What’s the only country surrounded completely by another country? (Lesotho) What country is west of Egypt and what’s the capital? (Libya/Tripoli)

We’ll keep on top of our skills by making sure she quizzes herself every now and then using online geography games.

I am not sure why we started with the hardest continent with 53 countries, but next week we’ll be starting to learn Europe!

While it’s fun to participate in Wordless Wednesday posts, I think my readers benefit more from me writing some sort of explanation for some of our entries. My last two wordless wednesday posts were showing maps Satori drew, but no explanation how. So this post is designed to explain Satori’s mapping passion. She started making maps of the United States and the world by hand last year. Usually she gave up halfway through, as the maps took on a distorted look. Understandable when a 5-6 year old draws a map by hand.

Last summer I read the book The Core by Leigh Bortins, a classical education approach to homeschooling. Her Geography chapter really grabbed me. The book is definitely worth its $10 from this chapter alone! She convinces you that new geography students (even from age 5) should start mapping and drawing the world. She then gives instructions on how to approach this, using the “Great Circles” and starting off drawing blobs. She shows examples of maps drawn totally free-hand by students who’ve really practiced. This became a dream of ours. Early this year, we took her idea, made our own blank sheets with the Great Circle lines and proceeded to draw the world with continents as blogs. (I should find some of those and share photos.) We plan to work more with this concept this year and I’ll blog in more detail.

In the meantime, something sparked a love for geography and maps for Satori in the past half year. If she’s not writing stories, she’s drawing maps. When we got our new whiteboard this month, the first thing she drew was a map of the United States. She started it by freehand, but it quickly got out of control.

The opposite wall just happened to have two huge maps we got cheap from Costco. They are laminated, so I was able to use a dry-erase marker to outline the lines of latitude and longitude. (Easily washed up a week later.) This divided up the map into manageable chunks!

Noticing that the top of Kansas aligned with a line, we started from there. Satori proceeded to draw all of western and central states quite accurately! By the time we moved it upstairs and away from our grid map, she attempted the eastern states, but they weren’t as accurate.

I guided her in making this map, by having her sometimes put dots where state borders should end, corresponding to the map grid. This made things much easier to draw.

 

You can see the end progress here (some of it has been erased).

For fun, I see no problem having my daughter trace maps to start off giving her some confidence. She loves doing this and churns out a few maps a day. I took this a few nights ago of her tracing Africa.

We’re using the Artograph 10-inch by 12-inch LightTracer Light Box. It was Satori’s Christmas gift from my parents (her grammy/grampy). It’s about $38 on Amazon. We love it, but the only thing we wish it had was some sort of clamp so we wouldn’t have to tape our papers to the box. Satori goes a little wild with the tape and then her map rips easily when she takes it off. There’s a larger 12×18 inch one for about $65.

Here’s some photos I took earlier this month of tracing the United States.

Satori also loves to memorize the geography of countries, so she’s able to label the United States and (now this week) Africa.

We’re on a real geography kick this spring, if you couldn’t tell. I’ll soon be making a page where I list all our favorite geography resources.

I aim to get back to The Core’s method of mapping by freehand. I am aware that there are two programs for sale tackling “mapping by heart”, but I haven’t been convinced enough to purchase them yet. For now we’ll practice using the Great Circles (or our grid latitude/longitude lines) when making freehand maps, while looking at a sample map. Eventually we’ll start drawing by memory.

 

Daddy gets treated to a school day almost every Saturday, with Miss Satori as his teacher!

He gets to learn subjects like Spanish, Latin, Spelling, Science, History, and this week they even learned Gym/PE. Since he doesn’t know Spanish, but has been in Mexico/Latin America all spring, his Spanish lessons have come in quite handy! Here he’s learning parts of the face in Spanish, as well as his numbers and colors.

She gets the idea for the schedule on the whiteboard from her Monday Colorado OPTIONS class for homeschoolers. They put her in the Kindergarten class where the students learn the letter A and how to write it and what sound it makes. She pokes fun in private about that, but we do not attend for the academic aspects. I make sure she is respectful to the teacher and other students, even though she is working several grade levels above them. Other than the babyish lessons, both Satori and I love having her attend the all-day class. They do learn things we haven’t focused on at home that require more people, like music and PE.

This weekend she put Daddy to shame as she showed him how she learned almost all the African countries (and some of the capitals) this week. She laughed when he didn’t know where Senegal was. (She seemed to have forgotten she didn’t even know what Senegal was a few days ago.) This week I showed her Shepperd Software Geography website on Africa and we did their tutorial on North Africa, West Africa, and Island countries. I made it a bookmark on her computer.

The next morning she woke up and brought up the website, and proceeded to teach herself the rest of Africa. She woke me up when the computer was calling out the country names – Angola! Uganda! Kenya! Eritrea! I then quizzed her on an iPad app, and she knew most of the countries! I had been trying to teach myself every night for a week, and she gets it in one morning. It’s amazing how quickly young kids can memorize. Daddy was amazed at how quickly she learned Africa too.

More about this later, and I’ll post the resources we’ll be using to go more in-depth on learning our world countries.

Exactly a month ago, Satori and I started a US State Study where we were going to learn two states a day. I wanted to get an intro to each state, and Satori was determined to memorize the state shape, location, capital, and abbreviation. We just finished all 50 states last night! She now knows them 110%, even better than I do actually. She also picked up most of the state nicknames, insects, and other tidbits. This all started when she played Stack the States iPad game, and she was frustrated she didn’t know the state capitals. She’s been quite  a little sponge soaking up all this information so quickly.

I already blogged here and here about the resources we planned to use. Since we have finished, I will go through how we went about doing our quick state study. Again, we did two states per day, each state taking up about 10 minutes, so about 20 minutes a day total. We kick it off with the 50 States: A State-by-State Tour of the USA. Even I learn tons of new information everyday.

We pull out our State Sticker poster and place the stickers on the map. We kept folding ours up when we were done, so some of the middle stickers kept sticking up. I recommend putting it up on the wall if you can.

We then pull our our State Notebook and Satori highlights the states we’re learning. Map is free and can be found at the NationalAtlas.gov site.

We then read two more books that give different views of the state maps and it repeats some of the information we learned. These are The United States of America: State-by-state Guide and  Smart About the 50 States.

Leaving those books spread out, Satori writes in her notebook page (free template). We are saving some of the spots for when we learn about each state more in-depth next time around. In the front of our book, I printed out a page that lists each state and the rank and date they entered the union. She highlights them as we study them, writes their rank. She actually remembers some of these ranks too.

Our State Wall Chart hangs on the wall, they fit nicely in a Standard Pocket Chart. We flip the state over to show off its red shape once we’ve learned it. Last night we took all the flashcards and I quizzed Satori on what she’s learned. She remembered everything except Indiana’s abbreviation (IN). Since we just got a new pen pal from Indiana, I’m sure she’ll remember it for next time. 🙂

I told her she should be the one quizzing me!

She then took the states and placed them in geographical order. She is extremely familiar with the distinct shapes and locations, so this was no challenge.

Next up, we are now going to go through an easy introduction to US History using the Betsy Maestro books.