Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Book Review: A Child's Geography: Explore His Earth by Ann Voskamp

Perhaps, if you're like me, you spend hours reading about curricula and books that others are using or recommending along their homeschool journey, wondering what would be the best possible fit for your child's education. A Child's Geography, by Ann Voskamp, is one of those books I've seen on countless blogs and recommended reading lists. Ever since I stumbled upon her personal blog (www.aholyexperience.com) a few years ago, and read her book “A Thousand Gifts”, I have been dying to order this Geography Book, so imagine how delighted I was when Mel asked me to review it for her!
The Voskamps are Canadian farmers who homeschools their 6 children. Ann Voskamp has a clear passion for teaching, and a heart after God and His world, and His people in it. Her book, A Child's Geogrpahy: Explore His Earth, invites a child to do just that – to join her on a journey in “getting to know what is under our feet, over our heads and in the world around us — the atmosphere, the hydrosphere, the lithosphere — and then how to get around this world — maps, latitude and longitude. All the while, seeing Him everywhere” as she explains in the introduction.

Voskamp has created a book that is easy to use even if you yourself hated geography! She gives advice as to how to use the book, how to schedule readings, ask your children for narrations – I love that she knows exactly what it is like to have young children, and how much time they are likely to be engaged for! She has 'been there, done that' as a homeschooling mother!

Each chapter is broken up into
one or two main adventures, which are meant to be read aloud to your children (and she encourages just one main adventure at a time, and usually one a week).
• A notebooking segment (creatively using postcards to 'write home' about what has been learnt. These are provided in the e-book).
Narration prompts – with wonderful “memory joggers” for children who struggle to remember all the finer details.
“Reaching Out to His World” is the segment where Voskamp draws a connection between the theory of what has been learnt and how it connects to someone or some people group on the earth. Geographers care about the planet they live on, and she takes it a step further reminding the children that everything and everyone on earth is the Lord's.
• “Too-Fun-to-Resist-Excursions” are the hands on activities in each chapter.
Reading Lists – ooh, this is just write up my alley! Wonderful to have some extra suggested texts to dabble in if your children's interest is piqued.
And finally, the Appendix holds copywork passages organised by chapter, as well as maps provided by Terri Johnson of Knowledge Quest.

So, what do I really like about this text?
I like that it is a living book, written to me and my children, by a mother on another continent with the same passion as me. I like that she tries to engage with children listening to each chapter in so many ways (endless examples and day-to-day relevant references). I like that Voskamp herself lives by example, truly loving God's people all around the world (her work with Compassion International is inspirational). I appreciate what this books covers – all the basics of geography – it's a great foundational text.

What I don't like? Hmm, well, if I had to be critical, I'd have to say that I don't think this is a book well suited to a visual learner: it is quite dense with text (but then again, the lessons are meant to be read aloud), and the diagrams are small and I did not find them particularly clear.

So there you have it! This is a text I would willingly use with my children in their early to middle primary years, and I think they would have a lot of fun using it and being inspired by it. It will give them a firm geographical foundation that we can use as a spring board to more detailed studies.


A friend and fellow blogger who blogs at Karen's Clan.  
Homeschooling mother of 3, wife to a husband who makes the most amazing animated movies, heads Cape Explorers and is an inspiration to many.  

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