Our review of 50 States – US Geography by Notgrass. What is the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word geography or US geography?
For me personally, the phrase US geography takes me back to third grade in public school, when I watched Ms. R at the front of the classroom in front of a huge map of the United States that she pulled from a roller above the blackboard. . She pointed at the map with a large wooden pointer and droned on about things like “Columbus is the capital of Ohio. Harrisburg is the capital of Pennsylvania. Albany is the capital of New York.” All while menacingly pounding a wooden pointer against a map.
My reaction? Yawn. I don’t know too many third graders (or any of them none age comes to mind) who are passionate about such things.
When I started homeschooling my daughters, US geography is another one of the things I had to change my thinking about, along with many other holdovers from my public school experience. I wanted something different and better for my daughters. As with other subjects, including history and language arts, I wanted them to make meaningful connections to the information they were learning. I wanted our learning to be pleasantly inspired, and on a typically dry subject like geography!
Fortunately, there are better options when it comes to US geography home study curriculum. One of those options I recommend is Our 50 states from Notgrass History. Notgrass are known for bringing history to life in engaging ways, so it should come as no surprise that they’ve done the same for Geography of the United States for grades 1-4.
Disclosure: I got it Our 50 States Geography Curriculum free in exchange for a review. A positive review was not required. All thoughts and opinions are my own.
Our 50 States USA Geography Curriculum
Our 50 states uses a literature-rich unit study approach to US geography. That said, it’s much more than just memorizing facts and figures. It is a feast of ideas, as Charlotte Mason would say, related to the geography of each state. This US Geography curriculum is a good pair early American history curriculum from Notgrass.
If you are familiar with Charlotte Mason’s principle of using living books to learn things, then you know this Our 50 states not your average boring textbook. It’s full of fascinating facts, discussion topics, recommended reading, and just enough detail to pique the curiosity of young learners.
US Geography for Elementary Grades
Full color glossy textbook for Our 50 states it is full of beautiful photos and illustrations for each state. They revise the geographic regions of the US and divide the book into regions to make it easier to add connections to the map. Each of the 50 states has its own section within these regional divisions.
US geography facts are presented in a narrative format, making the information engaging to read rather than just population numbers and map locations. Those “boring facts and figures” from my public school experience that I mentioned earlier are put into context within Our 50 states textbook. This makes US geography much more memorable and usable for children.
What things do children learn about the 50 states?
- Each state has a narrative about what it is best known for, including famous people from the state as well as significant events
- Scenic attractions and historical monuments
- A little about its economy
- Bible verse
Lessons are clearly laid out and easy to follow, making planning easy. It’s designed as a year-round curriculum, but as with many homeschooling resources, you can adjust it to fit your schedule.
There are no guesswork for homeschool moms. You can open and go with the lessons in the textbook. Teacher training is also minimal. Just reading a textbook out loud would be enough to give your kids a solid understanding of United States geography, but Our 50 states takes learning even further.
At the end of each state section is a collection of accompanying activities to do. This includes hands-on activities so you can make learning multi-sensory and even more in-depth. There are also family activities that you can all do together, such as art, music, poetry, trips and more.
The Atlas workbook is part of the curriculum. It has activities related to each state. They contain:
- Vocabulary of geography
- A page for drawing landforms related to a state
- Map activities
- Coloring activities (to complete these, practice the skills following the instructions)
- Another photo of the state bird, flower, flag and tree
There is also a Lesson Review Workbook with fill-in-the-blank worksheets that can be used for revision or open-book tests when children have completed the lessons. In the back is a section for regional tests with questions by circling the answers. The accompanying teacher’s guide contains answers to review and test questions.
Another great feature of the Teacher’s Guide is the recommended reading. These are lively literature selections that you can incorporate into your read-aloud time or assign to your children to join in with the lessons in the textbook. Each book is carefully selected to align with state lessons and a reading schedule is provided so you can plan ahead. A synopsis of each book is attached for your convenience. Again, no guesswork here.
Our summary of the 50 state rankings
If you’re one of those homeschool moms who wants to make learning more engaging, meaningful, and memorable, lean in. Our 50 states is a great choice for you! It allows for storytelling and discussion, a relaxed approach to unit study, and beautiful living books that you want to include in your homeschool, but don’t make you panic that you’re not doing enough, find other resources and projects, or lack the structure you want to feel when teaching geography confidently. It’s a great balance that Charlotte Mason and laid-back homeschoolers can appreciate, yet structured enough to meet your planning and ease-of-use needs.
If you are educating elementary age children at home, I recommend you take a look Our 50 states today!
Also, if you want to know Notgrass Publishing and heart for the company, you will want read this post by Charlene Notgrass.
The blogger is Sara Jordan Homeschooling of the heart and soul, a site created in 2008 to encourage and equip homeschool moms to confidently provide their children with a joy-centered education. She is a speaker, consultant, and mom of three homeschooled daughters. Sara majored in social work with an emphasis in early childhood development, which sparked her interest in educational alternatives such as homeschooling. You can follow her on Facebook, TwitterPinterest and Instagram.