Saturday, March 25, 2006

Geography days

One week away from the National Geographic Society’s Geo Bee state competition in South Dakota, our family is enjoying its annual geography days.

Besides going online to do daily quizzes on several sites (see previous love2learn blog post), we have been doing some family encompassing activities as well. Our old favorite is a National Geographic board game dh and I bought almost 20 years ago, National Geographic's Global Pursuit. The world has changed so much since then that half the cards contain outdated information--which of course dh turns into teaching tools. (Our kids are fascinated by the Soviet Union and how all those countries were outlined as one in older maps!). While this old family favorite has long been out of print, National Geographic does have a newer, smaller board game that is simple and fun to play, the GeoBee Challenge game. Their kids' store website has many others items as well,

We have enjoyed and fostered the learning of geography through the years as a family. It goes without saying that being an international family and having traveled abroad together has helped immensely. Dad's reports on his many travels are also living world eye openers for the kids, and the digital camera has been so handy here. Dad has extensive slides shows to entertain and educate us upon arrival from a new place visited. Last month we were delighted by his pictures from Vienna. Especially so because he was allowed to take pictures inside theKunsthistorisches Museum, Vienna's outstanding Art History Museum!

Another way we have been learning together is by watching the National Geographic Specials we check out from the local library. We choose titles and themes that will take the viewer to many places of the world. Some of our latest picks include 30 Years of National Geographic Specials, Lewis and Clark and a special on daring photographic moments.

Two nights ago we watched Inside the Vatican and we found it absolutely outstanding! Produced during the later years of the reign of our beloved Holy Father John Paul II, the DVD has lost nothing of its contemporary aspect. The viewer is taken behind and below the walls of the Vatican. It is a sort of "day-in-the-life" format as it succeeds in portraying things that happen simultaneously inside the Vatican: the sacristan sisters, the archivists, the art restoration projects, the Swiss Guard training for an upcoming oath ceremony, the ordination of new bishops, and finally the pope receiving an international delegation. (The Swiss Guard vignette alone was so interesting: they even interview the tailor responsible for producing their Michelangelo-designed uniforms!) Interviews with the pope's photographer and with two monsignors are excellent as they express such faith and love for the Church. The last highlighted event in the DVD is the beatification of five new saints, including Charlie, a native of Puerto Rico, and his saintly background story. We were entirely impressed on how respectful National Geographic was about things Catholic in this production!

Two from other publishers: the story of the British mariner Shackelton and his expedition do Antarctica on the Endurance is always a fascinating one to revisit as well, and two videos we enjoyed recently about it are Shackelton and The Endurance.

Last but not least, our family has very recently purchased a new set of the board game Risk during per son #1's request, himself a two-time GeoBee winner. He was home for spring break last week and hours were spent by old and young enjoying the game. They exchanged comments comparing the geographical divisions in the new version with their old version, destroyed to pieces by years of playing and out-of-state moves. I was amused to hear the conversation: "This is not even a province, it is just a subregion of another region of a country, and look, they made it a huge country", and so forth. I was also sure to bring to the table our copy of The Geography Bee Complete Preparation Handbook: 1,001 Questions & Answers to Help You Win Again and Again!

Just so they could quiz our #4, this year's competitor, between turns....

No comments: