Classical Conversations

Geography Review

Here’s a sample list of places in the Middle East:

Arabian Desert
Asia Minor
Black Sea
Caspian Sea
Dead Sea
East Desert (in Egypt)
Euphrates River
Hattusa / Turkey
Jordan River
Lower Egypt
Mediterranean Sea
Nile Delta
Nile River
Persian Gulf
Red Sea
Sea of Galilee
Suez Canal
Tigris River
Upper Egypt
West Desert (in Egypt)


If you gave your child this list, could they label each item on a blank map?  To me, that’s the ultimate test of geography – to hear the name of a place and be able to point to it on a map.

Personally, I’m not very good at geography.  I never learned it in such a way that it stuck.  Homeschooling gives me the chance to learn it better now!

This week at home is what I call an “off-week“, meaning that instead of doing a new week of Classical Conversations material we are doing other things and reviewing old material.  The kids are drawing maps and labeling them with the geographical locations we studied during the first 5 or 6 weeks of CC Cycle 1.  One of the challenges of this particular material is that it includes locations like “Phoenicia” which is a vague, ancient term you can’t find on modern maps, because it was long ago replaced.  For practical reasons, I admit I’m tempted to leave these terms out of our geography studies altogether.  Down the road I don’t want my kid to answer “Phoenicia” to a question about “Lebanon.”   But I also understand that you can’t completely sever the study of history and the study of geography, either.  What’s a mom to do?

I have printed off some outline-maps for my kids, which they are coloring and labeling.  One copy is laminated for tracing or drawing on with dry-erase markers.  Although my drawings are rough sketches and not entirely accurate, they have been totally sufficient for this review exercise, so I’ll share them here.  In a perfect world, I would create perfect maps and have a perfect list of important locations to learn, but I long ago learned to accept these minor  imperfections and just do the best I can with the time I have.  First is a PDF of my blank, outline map:

[button link=”” style=”download” color=”silver”]Outline map of the Middle East[/button]

Next is a list of locations that the child can use as a check-list each time they label this map.  (The little X’s indicate cities.)  My 9yo son requested that this list be available to him in alphabetical order!  So, this file is 2 pages long – the first page is the list in alphabetical order, the second page is a list of the same locations sorted by type.  If this map gets too “crowded” using all labels, you can have them put just the “water” locations on one map and the rest of the labels on a second map.

[button link=”” style=”download” color=”silver”]Checklist of Geography Locations #1[/button]

(This list includes all of CC Weeks 1-5 and 15, plus most of Weeks 11 & 12, plus the Aegean Sea, Alexandria, Athens, Jerusalem, Africa, the Dead Sea, the Jordan River, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Libya, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, and Greece.)

And finally, a labeled map to use as an example.  (I colored all water in blue and laminated this.)

[button link=”” style=”download” color=”silver”]Labeled Map of the Middle East[/button]

(As this school year goes on, I hope to come back to this post and add other lists/maps for the rest of the cycle.)

Here is a 5-page PDF containing a second set of locations & maps, primarily of Asia.  For CC Cycle 1, this includes Weeks 7-10.

[button link=”” style=”download” color=”silver” window=”yes”]Cycle1 Geography Asia Set[/button]

Labeling their maps is an activity they will repeat several times; each time it gets easier and they memorize it better.  You can make your own map and list of locations, of course – mine deviates a bit from the “strict” CC order, and I added a few other locations – like Jerusalem – that I think we may as well place on our maps while we’re focusing on this part of the world.  I only share my files here to save you time if you don’t want to make your own.  For reference, there is also a good simple map of Mesopotamia here.

For supplemental material, we have also purchased the CC Cycle 1 Resource CD-Rom (I have the 3rd edition) and the new “Trivium Geography Table” available here.  There’s a short video on that last link which shows you how to use something like Cheerios or chocolate chips to mark locations on a map – that’s a definite winner in my kid’s book!  The CC geography list may not be perfect, but it’s certainly better than the geography education I got as a child, and far better than doing nothing!


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