Our Journey Through Geography

by | May 18, 2011 | Geography | 14 comments

A couple years ago I purchased a wonderful hands-on Literature Approach to Geography based on four of the classics by Holling C. Holling.   Since the Alphabet Path kept us pretty busy last year, I didn’t have a chance to start using it until this year, and my children have absolutley loved this program!   Even though my boys are still slowly making their way through their State-by-State Scrapbooks it has been a most welcome addition to our curriculum this year.

Course Materials:

(also available here)

This award-winning study is designed to cover geography, but also includes some history and science as well. The teacher’s guide provides the framework for getting the most out of the Holling books as well as four maps (available separately) designed to be colored and labeled by your student. Three main geographic regions of the U.S are covered in this course as well as an introduction to world geography in the book, Seabird.”

(also available here)

“This set of four 18″ x 24″ maps is used with the Geography Through Literature study guide. Each blank map depicts a different area of the United States.”

“Books in this series are: Paddle-to-the-Sea, Minn of the Mississippi, Tree in the Trail, and Seabird. Whether following the adventuresome voyage of a carved toy canoe, tracing the travels of a not-so-timorous turtle, or learning about life on the Great Plains as witnessed by an aged cottonwood tree, readers will relish the blend of history, geography, and nature.”

Last fall we continued our journey though Geography with this wonderful set of books with the story of Paddle-to-the-Sea.   We had read this one before and all my children LOVED it (remember their cute little Modeling Wax Canoes?), so they were very excited to dig in deeper.  

While reading about Paddle’s journey from Lake Nipigon to the Sea, we also researched Canadian Geese, Sawmills and how they function, Iron Ore, Copper, Freighters, and so much more!  The children labeled the States, Capitals and Cities along the path and I even pulled out the couple pictures I have from the trip I took to Niagara Falls with my Dad when I was about Captains age.   

Our Completed Map for Paddle-to-the-Sea

Then, in January, we moved on to Tree in the Trail.   This was a wonderful story about the history of the Great Plains and the Santa Fe Trail, told by focusing on a cottonwood tree along the trail and the events that happened to and around that tree.

While studying this book, we researched cottonwood trees, Francisco Vasquez de Coronado (and added his trail to the map), Comanche Warriors, Flintlock Rifles (and other weapons: Indian arrows and arrowheads), the Wagon Trail to Santa Fe, the Cimarron Crossing and Trail, and much more.   

The children labeled the Arkansas, Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, the States of Texas, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Colorado, Kansas, Nebraska, Iowa, Missouri, Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama, Tennessee, Kentucky, Illinois, Indiana, and Ohio, in addition to their capitals as well. 

They found and labeled the Rocky Mountains and the Gulf of Mexico, and illustrated the Tree in the Trail, the “Yoke” made from the tree, and a cute wagon and buffalo.  I thought they did a wonderful job! 

Our Completed Map for Tree in the Trail
(click picture for larger view)

We have now moved on to Minn of the Mississippi and will finish up with Seabird sometime during this next school year.    That is one of the benefits of home schooling, you can still finish up the extra courses you love even if you are not able to complete them by summer! 😉


  1. Kelly

    Oh, wow, Jessica! This is awesome. Your kids did SO well with this! Bravo, kiddos!!

    I've thought about including these books into our curriculum for a long time now. This post has inspired me for next year. Thank you.

  2. Karen

    I loved doing this with my older children – I have plans to begin this in 2 years with my youngest bunch.
    Looks like you are all having fun with this as well.
    God Bless

  3. Marcia

    We love this series too. Minn was our book this year. Next year we will do Pagoo. I only do one book a year. Your maps look great.

  4. Jamie Jo

    I'm interested in this….I didn't care for CHC's 4th grade state/geography/history curriculum….this sounds great though!

  5. Lena

    this looks great. my fav learning is when all the children learn to together.

  6. Nope

    This looks really neat!! Does each child need a map?

  7. Jessica Gordon

    They really are wonderful books and the guide is really helpful. Each book is broken into either 9 or 10 Lessons, and you can finish them all in a year – IF you complete one lesson each week. We ended up just working on one book in the fall and one book over the spring, which worked out really well for our family.

    I only ordered one set of the maps, due to the cost, and had my children all work together, which they were more than happy to do. I considered taking them and having them laminated so that they could be re-used again, but it is so much nicer (and you can do a much better job) to color the actual paper instead. I plan to purchase another set of maps someday when my little ones are ready to use the program.

  8. Humble Bee

    My goodness Mercy! Sure looks like fun and they did an amazing job! I am new to your site and just enjoy all that you have to offer. We are just getting into our first lapbook (France) and having a fabulous time with it. Next stop is to have a look at that schedule you have on the go and then attempt the rainbow fruit salad plate. The whip cream clouds are brilliant!

  9. fadfd

    We've been using the state to state book series in a small co-op setting. But this is EXACTLY what I've been looking for! I just don't have the time to look for the literature components for each region and state AND keep up with the demands of the other kids.

  10. Anonymous

    What fun! Your children are blessed deeply by your great ideas, creativity and love. Keep up the great work awesome kids and mom!

  11. Anonymous

    I have had this program for awhile and haven't used it yet. I was going to use it with my older girls when they were younger and it just didn't happen. Maybe in another year Rogue will be ready. You have inspired me! And I think he would enjoy it even more than the girls would have anyway!

  12. Lindsey

    Would this be too complicated for a 3rd and 1st grader to complete? I can't decide if I should try it this year or wait a few more years.

  13. Jessica Gordon

    I don't think it would be too difficult, but I do think they would get more out of it in a year or two, at least for the 1st grader. My 1st grader and Kindergartner listened along, but they didn't complete that much of the map work. My boys (grades 3rd & 4th) really enjoyed the whole study.


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