Learning Geography with Atlases

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Blog, She Wrote: Learning Geography with Atlases

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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

Blog, She Wrote: Learning Geography with 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.

World Atlases for Learning Geography

Blog, She Wrote: Learning Geography with Atlases

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.

Electronic Atlases

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.

Specialty Atlases

Blog, She Wrote: Learning Geography with Atlases

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:

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!




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  1. This is a great list of atlases. With younger learners, I’ve found geography is more accessible to them than most general history (unless it is Ina read aloud). I don’t know but I think it allows them to better understand where they fit into the world. Will definitely be checking out the resources I am unfamiliar with!

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