Tour the United States and travel the countries of the world each week with the River Houses. Our Sunday States & Countries posts will point the way.
Many homeschoolers like to review the U.S. states and the nations of the world each year, and your recommended River Houses reference library (riverhouses.org/books) includes a current world almanac, a world atlas, and a history encyclopedia that make these reviews fun and easy. We go through the states in the traditional order of admission to the Union (almanac page 422), so this week’s state is:
- 🇺🇸 MICHIGAN (the 26th state, 26 January 1837) — The Great Lakes State, the Wolverine State. Capital: Lansing. Michigan appears on pages 575–576 in your almanac, and on plates 41 and 142 in your atlas. Name origin: “From Chippewa mici gama, meaning ‘great water,’ after lake of the same name” (almanac page 423, in telegraphic style). State bird: American Robin. Website: www.michigan.gov.
❡ Little lessons: You can teach a hundred little lessons with the state-of-the-week, using your reference library (riverhouses.org/books) as a starting point. Find the location of the state capital in your atlas. Look up the state bird in your bird guide. 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 your local library. The possibilities are endless and they can be easily adapted to each student’s age and interests. Pick a simple pattern to follow for a few minutes each week, and by the end of the year, without even realizing it, your students will have absorbed a world of new geographical and historical information.
❡ Explore more: If you’re planning a comprehensive unit study of one or more the U.S. states, be sure to investigate the excellent State Resource Guides available from the Library of Congress (www.loc.gov/rr/program/bib/states). These guides list a wide range of materials on all the U.S. states and territories, and the bibliographies accompanying each guide include a special selection of items for younger readers.
This week’s countries, with their official websites, are:
- 🇱🇹 LITHUANIA in Eastern Europe. Population: 2,823,859. Capital: Vilnius. Website (in Lithuanian): lrvk.lrv.lt.
- 🇱🇺 LUXEMBOURG in Western Europe. Population: 594,130. Capital: Luxembourg. Website (in French, German, English, and Luxembourgish): www.gouvernement.lu.
- 🇲🇰 MACEDONIA in southeastern Europe. Population: 2,103,721. Capital: Skopje. Website (in Macedonian): www.vlada.mk.
- 🇲🇬 MADAGASCAR in the Indian Ocean off the coast of Africa. Population: 25,054,161. Capital: Antananarivo. Website (in French, English, and Malagasy): www.primature.gov.mg.
These all appear in your current almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia as well. For example, you’ll find the main entries for the Indian Ocean country of Madagascar on almanac page 801, atlas plates 135 and 100 (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 critical reading and thinking skills.
What geographical discoveries have you made in your homeschool lately? 😊