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 our recommended homeschool reference library includes a current world almanac, a world atlas, and a history encyclopedia that make these reviews fun and easy. Our own annual review begins at the start of the River Houses year in September and goes through the states in the traditional order of admission to the Union (almanac page 418), so this week’s state is:
- 🇺🇸 ALASKA (the 49th state, 3 January 1959) — The Last Frontier. Capital: Juneau. Alaska can be found on page 564 in your almanac and on plates 45 and 142 in your atlas (10th and 11th eds.). Name origin: “Russian version of Aleutian (Eskimo) word alakshak for ‘peninsula,’ ‘great lands,’ or ‘land that is not an island.’” (almanac page 419). State bird: Willow Ptarmigan (bird guide page 64). Website: alaska.gov.
❡ Little lessons: You can teach a hundred little lessons with our state-of-the-week posts, using your reference library as a starting point. Find the location of the state capital in your atlas each week. 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 just a few minutes each week and your little lesson is done. By the end of the year, without even realizing it, your students will have absorbed a wealth of new geographical and historical information, as well as a host of valuable reading and research skills. 🔍
❡ Maps to color: National Geographic has a large blank United States map and a blank world map, complete with flags, printable in sections and ready to receive the colored pencils of your students. Why not give them a try this week. 🖍
We go through the countries of the world in alphabetical order, so this week’s countries, with their official websites, are:
- 🇻🇳 VIETNAM in southeastern Asia. Population: 102,789,598. Capital: Hanoi. Government: Communist state. Website: vietnam.gov.vn (in Vietnamese, Chinese, and English).
- 🇾🇪 YEMEN in the Middle East. Population: 30,399,243. Capital: Sanaa. Government: “In transition” (almanac page 851). Website: www.yemen.gov.ye (in Arabic).
- 🇿🇲 ZAMBIA in southern Africa. Population: 19,077,816. Capital: Lusaka. Government: Presidential republic. Website: www.parliament.gov.zm (in English).
- 🇿🇼 ZIMBABWE in southern Africa. Population: 14,829,988. Capital: Harare. Government: Presidential republic. Website: www.zim.gov.zw (in English).
These all appear in your current almanac, atlas, and history encyclopedia as well. The almanac, for example, has profiles of the nations of the world on pages 745–852; the endpapers of the atlas are index maps that will show you where each of the individual national and regional maps can be found; the history encyclopedia includes individual national histories on pages 489–599; and you can find additional illustrations, flags, and other mentions through the indexes in each of these volumes.
What grand global geographical excursions (real or virtual) have you made in your homeschool this Hercules Term? 😊
❡ 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 way or another, thus offering older students a good opportunity to exercise their critical reading and thinking skills. 🔍
❡ Come, here’s the map: Teaching your students to be fluent with high-quality maps — not just basically competent, but fluent — is one of the best educational gifts you can give them. Why not look up any one of our selected states or countries each week in your recommended homeschool atlas and show your students how to locate rivers, lakes, marshes, water depths, mountains and their elevations, highway numbers, airports, oil fields, railroads, ruins, battle sites, small towns, big cities, regional capitals, national capitals, parks, deserts, glaciers, borders, grid references, lines of longitude and latitude, and much more. There is so much information packed into professional maps of this kind that a magnifying glass is always helpful, even for young folks with good eyesight. The endpapers of the atlas and the technical map-reading information on Plate 2 (10th and 11th eds.) will guide you in your voyages of discovery. 🗺
❡ Plan an imaginary vacation: Here’s a fun exercise for your students: take one of the countries that we list each week and write out a family travel plan. How would you get there? How much will it cost? Will you need a passport? Where will you stay? Will you have to exchange your currency? How do you say hello the local language? What cities and attractions and landmarks will you visit? What foods will you eat? How will you get around (car, train, boat, mule)? Make a simple worksheet with blank spaces for the answers, have your students do the research, and start planning your world tour. ✈️ 🚞 🚗 🛳 🐎 😊
❡ The great globe itself: This is one of our regular Sunday States & Countries posts. Print your own River Houses States & Countries Calendar and follow along with us as we take an educational tour of the United States and the whole world over the course of the homeschool year. And don’t forget to add your name to our free mailing list to get more great homeschool teaching ideas delivered right to your mailbox every week. 🇺🇸 🌎
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