Charlotte Mason believed that ‘The peculiar value of geography lies in its fitness to nourish the mind with ideas, and to furnish the imagination with pictures… let him be at home in any single region; let him see, with the mind’s eye, the people at their work and at their play, the flowers and fruits in their seasons, the beasts each in its habitat; and let him see all sympathetically, that is let him follow the adventures of a traveler; and he knows more, is better furnished with ideas, than if he had learnt all the names on all the maps.’
Our youngest pupils learn about different countries around the world through hands-on experiences, such as trying on saris and silks from India, grinding up aromatic spices, or dancing to the rhythm of African drums. Parents who have lived in other countries often contribute to these sessions. Map skills are developed, for example, by looking at journeys fictional characters have taken, marking a route on a map of the Botanical Gardens and writing directions to get around the school. Reading stories about different places helps familiarise pupils with the regions they are studying. Physical land forms, such as the highest mountain and or the longest mountain range, are identified and explored as are, for example, the differences between a pond, a lake and a river.
This term, our Upper Prep pupils have been ‘visiting’ each of the seven continents using their special passports and boarding passes, memorizing the names of each of the continents through song. For each continent, they learn some of the key geographical features, landmarks and places of interest. Each Wednesday the children look forward to these exciting journeys, and recently wrapped up their final visit to the continent of Antactica, land of icebergs and penguins.