I recently subscribed to Scholastic’s Geography Spin. I got it as an add-on when I subscribed to Scholastic News Grade 3. It costs $1.09/year (including shipping and handling) which is a great deal considering there are 8 issues per year. Each issue is 4 pages long. That’s 32 pages per year. But that’s just the start. The best part is that it also comes with online access to the website, which is amazing. The Geography Spin website has a section for the digital version of the issue, video, vocabulary, games, teacher’s guide and printables. It also contains more than a year’s worth of archived issues.
I think Geography Spin is an awesome way to learn about geography. We start our lesson with the vocabulary section. It has a definition (read aloud by the computer) and a picture of each word. After listening to the word and its description, I ask the kids (six and four year old, respectively) what it means in their own words. I want to make sure that they understand these words because it will help them understand the video and the magazine later. Next, we watch the video together. I do not stop when we watch it the first time. But when we watch it for the second time, I stop it from time to time to ask questions to make sure that they comprehend what they are hearing. I also ask questions that are relevant to the video. For example, have you been there? Do you want to go there? What do you think of ……? I ask questions that require more than a yes or no answer. Sometimes when they do offer their own commentaries, I pause the video so that we can talk more about it. The videos are amazing. It’s quite engaging for me and the kids. It’s also very short – no more than 5 minutes – so it’s great to keep their attention. Plus, it takes us about 20 minutes to watch the video, re-watch it and discuss it, which is just the right amount of time for me. Afterward, we listen to the magazine. Just like the vocabulary section, the magazine can be read by the computer. I love it because I don’t have to read it aloud. I like to save my voice for discussion. Also, the narrator is very good. It doesn’t sound like a robot at all. It’s probably a human recording. When the kids start to goof off and stop listening, it doesn’t yell either. I just click on a section that the kids missed and starts again. Sometimes, my 6-year old daughter reads the magazine so it’s also great for practicing her nonfiction reading skills. There are some words that are very unusual in fiction so the magazine really helps widen her vocabulary.
From time to time, I pair the lesson with arts and crafts. Arts and crafts always makes the kids happy. Furthermore, I use this time to have my own peace and quiet. They’ll spend at least half an hour working on their art project while I do whatever I want at the same time.
I originally got the map below to teach my 6-year old, Katie, about states. I ask Katie to search for a random state each day for two weeks. I also used to ask her which states we had visited, but that became too boring for me. After subscribing to Geography Spin, the map is relevant again and it’s more interesting to study the states when paired with a story and a purpose. I love this map. It’s very colorful as you can see. I can use a dry-erase marker on it and wipe it off after our lesson is done. There are also not a lot of city names which is great for little kids starting to learn geography. It can be quite frustrating to search for a specific location when there are too many details. As an added bonus, it is also great for hiding children’s fingerprints on the wall. 🙂
Geography Spin is not just good for learning about geography but also science, reading/listening comprehension and arts integration. For the April/May 2017 issue of Geography Spin, Make Way for Monarchs, I was also able to insert a Bible lesson. When the video talked about how nobody knows how the second generation of monarch butterflies are able to go to the same trees in Mexico that their parents originally came from without being there before, I told the kids that there is somebody who knows and that is Jesus because he’s omniscient. Jesus knows everything.
I think Geography Spin is a must whether your kids are homeschooled or your kids go to a traditional school. If the school does not subscribe to it nor have the budget for it, it is definitely worth sponsoring the whole class for a classroom subscription. It’s quite difficult to find a Geography resource that is as engaging as Geography Spin. Scholastic is offering a free 30-day trial on their website. Check it out here.
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