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I love a good map, don’t you? Ever since I was young, I have always loved to pour over a map- whether they are local or world maps. It’s fun to think about place and people. Even better than just one map is a whole book full of maps! Or many books full of maps of all kinds! Today’s post is all about Learning Geography with Atlases.
Learning Geography with Atlases
As with most things, you can direct learning with an atlas in a formal or informal way. I think it depends on your purpose and the goals you have for teaching geography. We use both approaches in our homeschool. Here are a few examples of resources requiring an atlas.
- NorthStar Geography– A middle and high school geography course for high school credit. Written by Tyler Hogan at Bright Ideas Press, this curriculum offers specific strategies for using atlases and being a student of geography.
- Geography Quests– Featured here at Blog, She Wrote, the Geography Quest is a mix of formal and informal as we set on adventures incorporating seasonal and news based geography.
- Google Earth Lessons– A place where you can find lessons on geography of all kinds using Google Earth.
Our Favorite United States Atlases
No post on atlases would be complete without a run down of our best loved editions. First up are the United States atlases. Although you can find the U.S. in a World Atlas, you’ll find better detail in an atlas devoted entirely to the United States.
- National Geography Atlas for Young Explorers– This is a wonderful, large atlas for young geographers. The text is younger reader friendly and the maps and their icons are large. It lacks the detail an older student would need.
- Rand McNally Children’s Illustrated Atlas of the United States– Sold through Bright Ideas Press, this is a great atlas for kids.
- Rand McNally Road Atlas– These are great for teaching map skills to kids and I still carry one in the car because a GPS isn’t always the most accurate. Can your kids read and use a road atlas well?
- The United States of a America a State by State Guide– An watercolor illustrated guide to all 50 states showing some state facts and symbols
- The Rand McNally Atlas of American History– There are all kinds of historical atlases, but this one is all about US History. This is an inexpensive student edition.
World Atlases for Learning Geography
World atlases are a great tool for gazing through a window to the world! Here are a few we have on hand for our world travel in the homeschool room.
- The Illustrated World Atlas a Comprehensive Portrait of Planet Earth– We picked this atlas up before Borders Books went out of business. It’s not published by a big house publisher (at least not one here in the US), but it’s the most detailed atlas we have.
- Rand McNally Answer Atlas– This is a great resource for answering geography questions for students.
- Encyclopedia of World Geography– This Usborne internet linked book has a full world atlas in addition to the encyclopedia.
- Scholastic Atlas of the World– Near and dear to the heart of our oldest, this atlas was one of the first homeschooling resources we purchased at a Scholastic Warehouse sale just before we started homeschooling.
- National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers– This is the world edition of our favorite US atlas for younger kids.
For those of us who like to take advantage of technology, there are some nice electronic atlas options.
- WonderMaps– This is map making software from Bright Ideas Press that allows you to customize and print maps. Not only can you print maps for school any way you’d like, but it is a great reference atlas as well and very easy to use on any computer.
- Google Earth– I *heart* Google Earth! It’s a virtual globe with gobs of detail which lets you visit any place in the world. You can even use the ground view and see pictures people have uploaded from that area. What a fun feature if you’ve never been. Families can learn so much from spending time with Google Earth.
- Atlas Apps– Check your favorite app store for low cost atlas apps. I know Kindle has a few available for purchase. While not super detailed, these are fun for quick reference on the go. How many of us school in the car?
The great thing about electronic atlases is they are always up to date! You can update an electronic file much easier than making a new printed edition. This is one of my favorite features of WonderMaps.
Of course, United States and World Atlases are not the only types of atlases out there. You can find historical atlases, literature atlases, and atlases of plants and animals. Here are the ones we have:
- The Atlas of Middle Earth– What Tolkien fan can be without this? Everything you need to know about the setting of middle earth is in this atlases complete with diagrams of Bag End and the White Tower.
- The Usborne Jigsaw Atlas– Not sure whether Usborne still sells this gem, but an atlas puzzle is always fun!
- Rand McNally Discovery Atlas of Animals– A book of animals and where they live for late elementary or early middle school students.
- World Atlas of Dinosaurs (Usborne)– This is a great find for a dinosaur loving kid!
- Seas & Oceans Sticker Atlas– These are fun atlases that allow your student to see where animals live around the world in a very bright well illustrated map.
- Animal Sticker Atlas– Another great Usborne title with animal stickers
- The New Penguin Atlas of Medieval History– A detailed historical atlas of the world of the middle ages
- Atlas of Exploration– A fun DK book all about explorers and their discoveries around the world
In finding links for some of these atlases, I noticed that some are older versions and many are still available used. If you want to know what to look for in an atlas, take a look at Tyler Hogan’s post on Choosing the Right Atlas.
All About Atlases
Recently, I took part in a G+ Hangout with Bright Ideas Press All about Atlases! Tyler Hogan from Bright Ideas Press and fellow Finishing Strong Co-Host, Kyle McVay joined me for a fun conversation about atlases. It’s hard to miss the enthusiasm. Take the time to watch!