Do people ever ask you what you do all day as a homeschooler?
It’s such a loaded question, isn’t it? You want to answer that your children recite Shakespeare while you make 7-grain/grain-free bagels, when the truth is that your kids watch The White Rabbit Project while you combine enough cereals into a single bowl to make a serving.
And that should be OK – it is, really, but we want to tell people the big impressive things, even though most days are entirely unimpressive for everyone. Ask an average kid or adult what they learned or did that day and they’ll probably give you a single high- or low-light: “I ate a peanut butter-banana sandwich for lunch; Tyler is totally in love with Amanda; my boss blamed me for the Tokyo deal; I ate a peanut butter-banana sandwich.”
What we do here every day changes a lot, and I’ve learned to attribute at least some of that to my INFJ-ness – which I’m writing about actively when I am not typing up this post. It’s coming.
Until then, I want to share with you about The Maps, though, because that’s another question I get a lot. People see me blogging or Instagramming or Snapchatting (just kidding – I can’t even figure out Twitter) about our amazing Pin It Maps, and they want all the details:
- Do you use them every day?
- Do you put in all the pins at once?
- Do you keep them out all the time?
- Do you read books to go with them?
- Are they a stand-alone curriculum?
- Do they help teach subjects besides geography?
So today I wanted to share a bit about the wonderful role our maps play in our homeschool, and how they continually lead to natural learning (my favorite kind.)
Last week, I spotted the Oregon Trail card game on sale at Target. I snatched it up because we’ve been trying to add more games to our homeschooling lately, mostly because I now have a teen, and everything has been flipped on its head (more coming on that too.)
And so I grabbed it for $9, and the teen flipped (in a good way), and we decided that playing it would be the very first thing we would do Friday morning.
I have been counseled that when you get stalled with your homeschooling, you should never, ever buy new curriculum. I think that stands true if you’re looking at going from a Classical homeschooler to switching to Waldorf overnight, but I think it’s totally OK to add something new and surprise your kids sometimes. It can change everything.
And this game did. We played it all morning, never winning once, but trying to overcome snake bite and typhoid, until ultimately the kids wanted to move on.
“Do you guys want to see the Oregon Trail?” I asked, and I pulled out our Early America Map Set.
We got this particular set because my daughter had been curious about the 13 colonies, but there is so much more to these particular maps – you can use them to learn about Native American tribes, early American settlements and land purchases and even the Civil War. (And definitely the Oregon Trail!)
We spent the entire afternoon immersed in the maps, and they really helped solidify my daughter’s understanding of cardinal directions – I would say, “that fort is northeast of Lake Erie,” and she would find it and “pin it,” as we call it.
So a few things to answer those questions above:
Do we use them every day?
No – we don’t. I tend to pull them out when I know we have a few hours, because we all end up getting immersed in them. Or, sometimes the kids will ask to do them and we’ll pull them out then.
Do you put all the pins in at once? In one map?
So how they work is that you will have “pinning” maps, and you have reference maps. You can use the different reference maps in coordination with your different flag sets. So sometimes we’ll pin all the Native American tribes, for instance, and sometimes we’ll pin all the tribes at the time of Westward Expansion, along with all the trails and forts along the way, and then we’ll add the Civil War pins and just keep going.
(I’m finding my kids are making really interesting natural connections this way.)
Do you keep them out all the time?
No, because CATS. I have a cat who literally ate a needle once and needed surgery, (LONG before we met the maps; it was a sewing-related CATastrophe) so when we’re not actively working on them, we put them away in a safe place. BUT, they are gorgeous, so if you don’t have cats or babies or a husband who often falls face-first into sharp things, go for it!
Do you read books to go with them?
(NOTE: I will say that we referenced this history book a few times so I could add a little extra context to the conversation!)
Are they a stand-alone curriculum?
This is tricky … They are for us, in that we find we learn a ton just working on the maps. BUT, if you are looking for a comprehensive, by the year study of history, you might want to include some other resources. They are awesome for geography.
Do they teach other subjects besides geography?
Yes – definitely history, and that old grade-school stand-by “social studies.” Depending on your map set, you might also be able to tackle other topics like ecology!
So – have you tried Pin It Maps? What info would you share?
- Also, if you are thinking of ordering, you’re going to need the right pins. You can find the ones that work with the maps right here.
Affiliate links included. I also received maps for review purposes, but all opinions are my own.