How to Teach Geography with Literature

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teen boy leaning over a map to label it

Disclosure: I received the Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature Pack and was compensated for my time in writing this review. I was not required to write a positive review and all opinions are my own.

Teaching geography with good books is one of our favorite things to do! How to Teach Geography with Literature is a look at using living books to teach geography to middle school students.

Geography is the study of places and the relationships between people and their environments. Geographers explore both the physical properties of Earth’s surface and the human societies spread across it. They also examine how human culture interacts with the natural environment and the way that locations and places can have an impact on people.

National Geographic

Mapping Geography Using Stories

a map with a storybook and a literature guide on top

The setting of a story is a natural way to incorporate geography into learning at any age.

The books by Holling C. Holling included in the Beautiful Feet Geography through Literature pack provide abundant opportunities for teaching about places and the people in them.

  • Gorgeous maps- are included inside the four book pack, there are four, large, cardstock sepia toned maps to match each story
  • Vivid settings– are the back drop for each book which describes the story place in detail and with drawings
  • World voyages- in Seabird which also discusses whaling and world sailing through time
  • Sante Fe Trail– is shown through the life of a tree in Tree in the Trail
  • River features– river behavior and habitat, and the creatures that live in freshwater rivers are the focus of Minn of the Mississippi.
  • Watersheds– specifically the Great Lakes and their connection to the Atlantic Ocean makes Paddle to the Sea
  • Human Geography– where people are, how humans interact with the earth, and cultures
  • Physical Geography– features of the earth and physical properties

As always, I adapted this geography with literature program to enhance our study of world cultures.

My 8th grader has been doing a survey of world cultures this year in social studies and the literature approach to geography fit right in with our exploration.

Benefits of Teaching Geography with Literature

story book stack with a geography guide on top

One of the hallmarks of a Beautiful Feet program is the flexibility. It’s hard to feel hemmed in by such a restful learning guide.

Here are some other things I appreciate about using a literature approach to geography

  • Approach geography in context- in this case the setting of a story
  • Map your way through the story- in quick intervals in a memorable way
  • Remember details- when you follow along with the characters of the story
  • View illustrations- in the sidebar which are a whole reference and exploration to themselves
  • Read aloud- the lessons which is always time well spent together
  • Provide opportunities- for narration and discussion for multiple ages
  • Follow the guide- for a complete walk through each title
  • Lead short, Charlotte Mason style lessons- with each story
  • Engage each story- through fiction and non-fiction reading

A literature approach to geography is gentle and adaptable, allowing you to follow rabbit trails.

More on Teaching with Literature & Geography

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    1. It really depends on the 8th grader. The program is written for 4-7th grade. If you have a knowledgeable middle schooler, they will not find the material challenging. For us, it provided a low key look at different places in the world which is what I was aiming for. He’s all science all the time and watches all kinds of things about all kinds of history and geography type topics. This was my chance to do a little guided tour with him. He would consider the whole of social studies too young for him. ha!

      1. I totally understand…my guys are all about science with a love of maps mixed in..14 yrs and 15 yrs old!

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