Tour the United States and travel the countries of the world each week with the River Houses.
Many homeschoolers review the U.S. states and the nations of the world each year, and the recommended River Houses reference library includes a current world almanac, a world atlas, and a history encyclopedia that make these reviews fun and easy. We are going through the states in the traditional order of admission to the Union (almanac page 453), so this week’s state is:
- Rhode Island (29 May 1790, the 13th state) — The Ocean State, Little Rhody. Rhode Island appears on pages 585–586 in your almanac, and on plate #44 in your atlas. Name origin: “Origin unknown. One theory notes that Giovanni de Verrazano recorded observing and island about the size of the Greek island of Rhodes in 1524. Another theory is that Dutch explorer Adriaen Block named the state Roode Eylandt for its red clay” (almanac page 455).
¶ What can you do with the state of the week? A thousand things, with your reference library as a starting point. Find the state bird with your almanac and look it up in your bird guide. Trace the state’s outline with your atlas. Read the almanac’s one-paragraph history aloud each week. Using each state’s official website (above), find and copy the preamble to that state’s constitution into a commonplace book over the course of the year. Practice math skills by graphing each state’s population and area. Look up the famous state residents listed in your almanac either online or at the library—the possibilities are endless and they can be easily adjusted according to a student’s age and interests.
This week’s countries, with links to their official websites, are:
- Dominica (English), in the West Indies.
- Dominican Republic (English and several other languages), also in the West Indies.
- Ecuador (Spanish only), in northwestern South America, on the equator (for which it is named).
- Egypt (Arabic and English), in northeast Africa.
These all appear in your current almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia as well, of course. For example, you’ll find the main entries for Dominica on almanac page 770, atlas plate #49 (where you can also practice reading insets on a map), and history encyclopedia page 505, with illustrations, flags, and other mentions available through the indexes in each volume.
¶ Read and think critically. The country links above go to official websites, which are not always in English and which may well be propagandistic in one form or another, thus offering older students a good opportunity to practice their critical reading and thinking skills.