Cantering the Country
We used Cantering the Country for geography for levels K-10 from 2007-2009, with some tweaking as the target ages are K-6.
Likes: While this curriculum is designed to be used as a stand-alone unit study, it is so flexible that I use it as a supplement to our history program. We study history chronologically, and as we come to each state entering the Union, we pull out Cantering the Country and use it to study the state.
This curriculum is not an "open the book and read the lesson" type of program. It is a menu of choices to choose from. I like choices! I like being able to choose what specific topics from each state I want my children to study.
Here's what the Cantering the Country contains to choose from. For each state you have:
*3-4 paragraphs of information
*General Reference - a list of general information books on the state
*Geography - geography vocabulary words and places of interest in the state. For example, Alabama lists "gulf" and "Gulf of Mexico". Book titles are sometimes given.
*History & Biographies - famous people & events from the state, also with book titles or websites where available
*Science - science topics that can be studied. These may include the state tree, bird, flower, or rocks; animals common to the state; and other topics, such as rockets & spacecraft for Alabama or volcanoes for Hawaii
*Literature - fiction book titles that pertain to the state. These can be picture books or longer read-alouds.
*Language Arts - the Preamble to the State Constitution that can be used for copywork. There are also sometimes writing assignment ideas.
*Bible - these are short character quality studies based on the state motto.
*Activities - these range from mapping suggestions to science-related experiments & crafts
Lots of choices! I choose what we want to cover for each state, then I print out notebook pages from the CD that comes with the book. There are over 150 pages on the CD! They include state maps, crossword puzzles, seek & find puzzles, a few mazes and connect-the-dots (for the younger children), a generic state report, biography report, animal report, geography vocabulary page, character traits pages, etc.! My children are creating awesome U.S.A. notebooks!
You do need access to a library to do this program. If you want to complete this book in 1 school year, you will have to limit each state to about 3 days. If you want to linger longer, plan on taking longer to complete the book.
I like that that book can easily be used for multiple ages at the same time. However, since the target ages are K-6, I do supplement for my oldest 2 children (grades 8 & 10) with the Trail Guide to US and the corresponding notebook pages, published by the same company.
Dislikes: In my opinion, the Language Arts is the weakest part of the program. I would not use it in place of a Language Arts program, but as a light supplement to one.
Also, I wish there were mazes or connect-the-dot pages for every state, not just some of them, so my youngest non-writer would always have a page to do.
Subject: History, Geography
Dates Used: 2007-present
Likes: We love the information we learn and the way it is presented. We also like the fact that we can choose how to use it. There are a lot of options for using it.