Tour the United States and travel the countries of the world 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:
- Virginia (25 June 1788, the 10th state) — The Old Dominion. Capital: Richmond. Virginia appears on page 589 in your almanac, and on plate #43 in your atlas. Name origin: “Named by Sir Walter Raleigh, who outfitted an expedition in 1584, in honor of England’s Queen Elizabeth, the Virgin Queen” (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:
- Colombia (Spanish only), in north-west South America. Capital: Bogotá.
- The Comoros (French only), in the Indian Ocean between Madagascar and the coast of West Africa. Capital: Moroni.
- Congo (BBC News country profile, in English), in central Africa. Capital: Kinshasa.
- Congo Republic (French only), in west-central Africa. Capital: Brazzaville.
These all appear in your current almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia as well. For example, you’ll find the main entries for the tiny island nation of the Comoros on almanac pages 734–735, atlas plates #131 and #95 (where you can practice reading insets on a map), and history encyclopedia page 567, 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 skills in critical reading and analysis.