September 19, 2017

Let's Go Geography: A World Geography Course for Elementary Grades {Curriculum Review}

I have always enjoyed studying geography and it is one of the classes I really enjoy teaching in our homeschool. There are many different programs out there for teaching geography, but most focus on just generic things relating to continents, oceans, rivers, and reading maps without a deeper look into the countries and cultures within the continents. This is especially true for the early elementary grades. We recently had the opportunity to review a world geography course with online and offline components called Let's Go Geography. Would this course teach geography more in the style I desire? Join me today as I share our review of this elementary geography course to find out more of what Let's Go Geography is all about!

About Let's Go Geography

Let's Go Geography is a program designed to teach geography to the younger ages by exploring the world continent by continent, country by country. Using videos and hands on activities to teach a lesson over books as the primary resource makes the program more appealing to the young learners and ideal for the age K-4th grade the program is geared for. There are nearly 30 countries taught withing a 36 week school year in weekly lessons. Each lesson is about an hour per week--perfect for the bite sized learning activities elementary kids enjoy the most.

While there is currently only Year 1 available, there are two more years in the works to make this a complete three year world geography course with a total of about 80 countries being studied when all is said and done!

For more details about pricing, please make sure you check out their Plans and Pricing page. There are also several free resources available to check out--and bonuses to receive once a subscription is purchased!

We were given a subscription to Year 1 to use in our home.

Our Thoughts on Let's Go Geography

Let's Go Geography is very easy to navigate. Once I log in, I go to the Member Home Page which shows all of the lessons in my course along the left side. I can navigate between them by simply clicking on whatever title I need to use. While the lessons are listed in an order, these really don't have to be done IN order. Each is independent except in how they are located within a continent. The only ones that require previous completion are the reviews.

I wanted to begin at the beginning with my son, so I decided to work through them in order, completing one lesson per week. This works well, as the lesson can easily be split up into a couple activities each day. While we didn't do necessarily complete them in a week's time, over the last 6 weeks, we've been able to work through the first 5 lessons doing them about 3 days each week. When a lesson is finished I click the "i finished this lesson" box to keep track of where I am.

A nice bonus--every weekend, I get an email with the next week's lesson links--how cool is that? Sometimes I use it, sometimes I don't. But it's awfully nice to have.

Because (I assume) the program was designed for US homeschoolers, the curriculum begins in North America with the United States, spending two lesson weeks on just the US. As I said before, it is not necessary to start at Lesson 1, so if you live elsewhere and want to start in your OWN continent, you can.

The first 11 weeks are designed to teach your child about North and South America. Every week (except for the 2 week US study) a new country within the two continents is explored including: United States (and Hawaii), Canada, Haiti, Nicaragua, Belize, Greenland, Chile, Colombia, and Equador.

Weeks 13-24 focus on countries throughout the European and African continents, and weeks 25-34 on countries throughout Asia and Oceania. By the time that Year 1 is completed, your student will have studied in depth TWENTY-SEVEN different countries across the different continents--and the focus isn't on the more well known ones within any continent, but instead the lesser known ones--think Tanzania, Hungary, Cambodia, ect.

Let's Go Geography is set up to be a "3-year World Tour". This means that every year each continent will be revisited and NEW countries explored. Here is a snapshot of the World Tour 3-Year Plan:

As you can see from this snapshot, the visiting of "lesser" countries continues throughout the curriculum! If you did the entire 3 year course, your child will have studied EIGHTY different countries--and the United States will have had six different regions explored as well! I don't know any other curriculum which goes into this kind of depth for the K-4th grade range!

As you can see from the plan above, there is a "break week" worked into every 9th week which allows for just catch-up to be done without any new studies. There are also reviews once every pair of continents are visited. There are also final year reviews for each year over all the countries and continents studied that year.

So what does a week's worth of lessons cover? Well every week follows the same routine, making it very easy to schedule out in lesson planning.

1. Country statistics (name, capital, largest city, population, area)
This can be used as an introduction to your country.

2. Color the Map
In this portion, your child will add the country (color it) to the appropriate continent map for what they are studying. Then they will answer a few questions regarding describing it's relative location using direction terms--N, S, E, W. They also many discuss the country's size or position near any major bodies of water. A second map will be more detailed for the region of the country. This map will include directions to color the country, identify capital, bodies of water, neighboring countries, ect.
All of the blank maps are included (via printable pdf) for every lesson.
New country is colored on continent map

smaller localized area map is completed
3. Color, Cut, and Glue the Flag
Your student will learn about the country's flag, and will be coloring TWO miniature flags--one for their travel notebook map, and one for their passport. (will talk about that later) There are extra flags included if you are teaching more than one student.
Coloring Haiti's flag
Put one flag in the Passport

Add the other flag to the continent map
4. Enjoy the Music
Your student will have an opportunity to learn the country's song, or music from the region via YOUTUBE video links included in the lesson plan download. Lyrics to the song of choice is included--and if the song is in non-English, an English translation is included.

5. Explore & "Go Sightseeing"
This section guides you through important facts about the landscape, culture, and economy of the region. You will look at YOU TUBE videos that are linked up to the lesson plan which take your child on a "sightseeing trip" of the country. There are also written paragraphs of information to read before sharing the videos. Also included are captioned photographs of the country being studied, which can be cut out and glued to other paper and put into the travel journal. There is also a notebooking page included that is labelled with the country's name and flag. This can be used to record interesting information from the week's study.
our pictures of Haiti for the journal
We always write 3 sentences about something we learned for our country.
6. Color or make a Craft!
Included in the weekly lesson is a coloring page AND a craft lesson. The craft is always related to the region and/or culture. The coloring page can be printed out, and there are detailed instructions for completing the craft.
Making a lei for study on US/Hawaii
A lighthouse for the US/NE
Additionally, there are optional exploration activities that can be added for older students, which include a more in depth look into the country with library books or other resources.

The activities above are always included on a page for each week, and the student is able to check them off as they are completed. You don't have to do them all--they are just all available for you to decide which works best.

Now, let me mention--included in this curriculum is a "passport" which is a pdf download to create a replica passport which can be "stamped" via the flags or other stickers as the countries are explored. For right now we are adding in one of the small flags from each week to our passport and drawing a flag to label the country studied.

The other primary aspect of the program, is a travel journal. Each student completing the program will keep a binder to fill with all of their papers and lessons. There are free covers available for printing, as well as binder index labels to separate out the countries.

When you do a lesson you don't HAVE to print it all out--you could just look on the laptop or download the lesson to your device for reference--then simply print out the worksheet pages. I just went through and printed out only the pages I wanted/needed. Then I 3-hole punched them and put them into my son's binder. When the lesson is done, I remove the teaching papers, leaving just the portions he's completed himself.

Okay--so now let me share my summary.
I absolutely LOVE this program! It is exactly what I want for our homeschool and it is set up in just my teaching style. I love being able to use online videos to share "sightseeing" trips and music. I appreciate having all the maps already ready for me to grab. I love the way that the routine is the same each week--yet allows for modification as needed. We don't always do the coloring page, and we won't always do the craft! I really appreciate the more in depth look at the countries--exploring their tourist attractions as well as their "daily lives". Talking about landmarks, and the economy. This has opened up several rabbit trails for us, as my son asked questions after watching some of the videos--which meant we got to explore it even more!

I appreciate that this is both an online and offline curriculum. IF I didn't have internet, I believe that I could still complete this curriculum, thanks to the way it is set out. Especially how it even provides the library decimal system to find books pertaining to each country.

A few things I would change--I would appreciate that instead of just an icon that says "click here for video" there was also the LINK url written out for me. This would make it possible for me to open it up no matter WHAT device I want to use. I could just type in the url and go. As it is now, I have to have my computer up--or I have to visit the videos, and copy down the links myself to reference later.
I would like actual url listing for each video to help when I want to use other devices
Another thing, I would like a more simplistic black and white cover option for the travel journal. I don't like to use color for everything and the options to print weren't what I wanted to use. I ended up designing my own and using it for our travel binder cover.

An annoyance--when I had the lesson open on my computer browser (I chose NOT to actually download them), once I hit a link I couldn't then hit the back arrow. If I wanted to go back, I actually to re-load the lesson--unless I remembered to open the links in new tabs or windows. That was more annoying than anything else.

Now, although I have only worked through the first 5 weeks of lesson, I peaked ahead at the continent reviews. They are very well done! They include a lot of matching (names to countries on map), flag identification, matching sightseeing photos to the country they belong, as well as additional coloring pages and notebooking pages. The directions also ask them to try to do it without peeking in their journals--but don't say they can't. LOL.

The year end review consists of two games ("I Spy" and "Where in the World") and an end of the year project--which is an easy to put together lapbook "suitcase". There are notes for adjusting these according to the grade level.

At this time, the company is still in the process of finishing Year 2 and Year 3--but they are definitely in the works! As for purchasing Year 1, you can purchase individual lessons, a semester, or a year! And the great thing? A whole year is only $21.99!

I truly believe that this is one of THE best programs I have ever seen for teaching geography to the elementary age group. And it is definitely the most hands on and comprehensive--especially for the amazing price! And with it having printable aspects, this allows for easy adaptation to MULTIPLE grade levels and students! Although my oldest is in 6th grade--outside of the range--I 100% believe this would be a great program for him too! There are suggested adaptations that can be made for older children which is very helpful! My son loves what we do and enjoys the variety. He ESPECIALLY loves the videos for exploring the countries.

We are using Year 1 throughout the rest of this year with my son (second grade), I am DEFINITELY going to be considering purchasing Year 2 and Year 3 when they become available!

Want to Know More?

For the last several weeks, we have been reviewing Let's Go Geography with their Year 1 subscription. You have learned how much we love the program--but what did others in our review crew think about it?
Let’s Go Geography {Reviews}

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I am so glad that we were able to find the *perfect* geography program for our family which allows me to teach about more than just the basics. We can know appreciate more of the culture of the countries studied too! I am hoping to share a video review of the program with you too later this week--so make sure you follow me on Facebook to know when I'm going LIVE.


Unknown said...

I am thinking seriously about using this for my 5th grade twins. I know they are outside the age range but it does seem like one of the best I have seen for exploring and learning about the world. I see you said you thought your 6th grader could learn from it with a few changes. could you expand on what you would/could change to make it work for a bit older child?

Lisa McKinney said...

Angela, this course provides the library books needed to match whatever country is being explored. Also links to additional online materials. Through this you could easily have them explore the countries at an even deeper level especially using the included controlling pages.

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