Geography Quest: Operation Christmas Child Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Operation Christmas Child Edition

It’s that time of year when Samartin’s Purse is gearing up for Operation Christmas Child collections. Does your family participate? We have for years and with the addition of some simple tracking options, I thought Operation Christmas Child would make a fun Geography Quest.

Map the Locations in the World Where OCC Boxes Are Sent

Pack an OCC Box & Pray over It and the Child Who Will Receive It.

  • Enjoy some Veggie Tales themed OCC materials- fun printouts for the kids and you can find the box labels here.
  • You can print coloring pages to send with your box. Our kids love to put their biographical information and address in hopes that maybe they’ll hear back from the child who receives the box. It hasn’t happened yet, but we keep trying!
  • How about some instructions on what goes into a box and how to pack it and make sure it gets shipped?
  • We pack a box for each of our children in the same age and gender categories as our children.
  • Pray over your boxes and the children who will receive them.

Other Ways to Be Involved

Map the Journey Your Box Took Once You Receive Notification

  • For a few years now, OCC has given everyone the option of paying online and printing labels which have a barcode on them. When those codes are scanned, OCC will track the box for you and you’ll receive an email after delivery on where your boxes were sent.
  • Map a possible journey your box took from your home to the country of destination.

Join me in sending a box of Hope to a child around the world and learn a little culture and geography at the same time. We still have time to fill boxes and make the collection week in mid-November. It’s easy to find a collection point near you. Thanks for another fun Hopscotch series!


Geography Quest: Forest Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Forest Edition

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I adore a good walk in the woods and feel so privileged to live on the edge of parkland so we can enjoy walks in the woods any season just by walking about the door. There are so many things to discover in a forest. I thought it would be an enjoyable quest to learn about “the forest”. There are so many, join me to find out more.

Identify & Map the Types of Forest Around the United States

Do you know how much of the U.S. is forested? What kind of forests are located in the U.S.?

  • This map from the USDA Forestry Service, details the types of trees in the various regions oft the United States along with the history and conversation of forests.
  • Check out this map list which shows where specific species of trees are located.
  • Temperate Deciduous Forests & Temperate Coniferous Forests are the two main categories of forest in the continental US.
  • Identify, using the online maps linked above, the various forests around the United States and make a forest map. Don’t forget to make a key so you know which forest is where.

Map Forest Types Around the World

Information on forest types is available with a simple web search. In addition, you may find that information in a world atlas.

  • Make a color and keyed map displaying the location and type of forests around the world.
  • You might like focusing on forests by continent rather than using a world map so that you can get the details on the map more easily.
  • Note the climate of a region and how it relates to the forests. Does climate affect the types of trees which grow? Are there places without trees?

Resources for Exploring Forests

Thank you for joining me these last ten days for the Autumn 2013 Hopscotch from iHN. I still have one more post in the series on the way. Stay tuned!


Geography Quest: Bird Migration Editon

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

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Today’s Geography Quest is all about bird migration. Choose a well known migrating bird or several species and track their movement south for the winter.

What is Bird Migration?

Most of us are familiar with birds coming and going for the winter. Do you know the specifics? Take some time to learn about which birds migrate and where they go.

  • Why do birds migrate?
  • Which birds migrate? Use your field guide to learn which birds migrate.
  • Where do the birds go?
  • What signals do birds follow that tell them when it’s time to leave and when to return?

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration

Map Bird Migration

  • Choose a favorite bird species to follow and find out their migration path.
  • Research typical migration paths for birds.
  • Compare the migration of several species. Make maps for each one and see what is similar and what is different.
  • Calculate the distance that bird species will travel to make sure they have resources.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

What Are Some Obstacles to Bird Migration?

  • Light pollution– the lights from cities can confuse birds because they rely on natural signals to find their way.
  • Power lines
  • Buildings– particularly tall windowed structures in cities
  • Predators
  • Wind Mills – the large ones made for making electricity

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Bird Migration Edition

Observe Bird Migration

  • Do you keep a list of the birds you see? During the migration times, see if you find new birds at your feeder or in your yard.
  • Notice the behavior of Canada Geese. They stop pairing off when they fly and fly in large groups. At the close of summer, once this starts happening, you know that they are leaving town.
  • Take notice of the birds which hang out once you notice the songbirds are gone- when the migrators are in town, we see less of our winter birds though there are always some around. I always know that common summer birds are on the move when I start seeing our winter friends more often.
  • Research locations where you can observe large scale migration. Here in NY, there is a spot north of here where raptors are known to gather as they migrate. We hope to catch that one year.

If you are paying attention, very often you will see birds while they are on the migration as they are passing through. Do you see birds you don’t normally see? Once spring is on the way, be on the alert for signs that the birds are returning.

Resources for Tracking Birds

  • Field Guides– so you can identify birds that you see. I like Birds of New York and the accompanying CD. The same author has prepared books for other states. See if there is one for your state.
  • Bird Call CDs– great for road trips and calls are a great way to identify birds nearby.
  • iBird Pro– an app for both iPhones/iPads and Android devices. This is a paid app, but I bought it on sale and it’s really comprehensive. Just be careful not to use the call too often outsides as it will distract birds from the business of survival when they respond to your fake call.
  • Winged Migration– a book and program all about birds on the move. They have a junior edition as well with a call CD. I checked one out from the library last night.
  • Planet Earth– a DVD series from the BBC which has information on biomes around the world often referring to large bird migrations. Those of you with Amazon Prime can watch instantly. Nice. We own this one and it’s been a great resource.

Pay attention to the habits of birds which stay year-round as well. Once the migrators leave, they move around. I normally don’t see cedar waxwings during the summer, but once the leaves are all gone, they will swoop down on some berry bushes next to our house. Then they are off…probably stopping by on their way to their winter territory.


Geography Quest: Europe Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Europe Edition

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Today we are making a stop on the continent of Europe. What a rich gathering of cultures we can find here! Enjoy time spent discovering the countries from the “old world”.

Take a Tour of Europe

  • Using Time for Kids Around the World you can visit this continent and see pictures along with common foods, products, and famous places. Check out some destinations from this site in the next several links.
  • England– You can find basic stats along with pictures, history, and maps.
  • France– if you click on the cities within this sightseeing map, you’ll see a picture of an attraction there.
  • Italy– on this page you can take a quiz after you’ve been through the rest of the site on the country.
  • Greece– here you can find a day in the life of a child in the country.
  • Iceland– native lingo allows you to hear the language spoken by a native of the country. What a find!
  • Map Your Favorite Destinations– in and around Europe. If you took the website tour, you will have plenty of thoughts on which ones you liked best. Save it for the future and you’ll know all the places you want to visit given the chance.
  • Map Famous European Landmarks– you might even find pictures of the iconic structures to place them on your map.

There are more European countries left to explore on the Time for Kids website, but those links will show you the various parts of the website available for each country.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Europe Edition

Play Games to Learn European Geography

  • Ticket to Ride Europe– pictured above and mentioned in the game post, you can never go wrong pulling this one out. We like to play with the 1912 Expansion set because it has longer route tickets and there are number of ways you can play to enjoy the game.
  • 10 Days in Europe– another in the 10 Days series of games, Europe offers travelers the chance to move by foot, air, and ship as they try to set up a sequential itinerary before the other players.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Europe Edition

Resources to Enjoy European Geography

A rather random list of books both fiction and non-fiction that take place in Europe.

  • DK Eyewitness Travel Guide: Great Britain– fabulous photographs in this look at England and the British Isles. I love to have this one out on a table top and open whenever we are studying this country. You can’t help but to be drawn in.
  • Journey to the Center of the Earth– Begins in Iceland to go under the ground and what the explorers discover there. The Kindle edition is free. Enjoy this title today!
  • Inkheart– and the sequels. This story takes place in Europe, mainly Italy. It’s sort of in this world with characters from books entering our world and in the sequels the characters here end up in the other world.
  • Swallows & Amazons– the series. Takes place in the Lake District of England and beyond.


Geography Quest: Daniel Boone Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Daniel Boone Edition

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Welcome to the second week of the Autumn, 2013 iHN Hopscotch. We’ll be continuing with another five days of Geography Quests. Join us today for a little Quest involving one of our favorite American Heroes, Daniel Boone.

Learn about The Pennsylvania Wilderness with Daniel Boone

  • Identify the Pennsylvania wilderness at the time of Daniel Boone.
  • Name the places where Daniel Boone regularly visited in PA.
  • Read about how Daniel Boone became an excellent tracker.
  • How did Daniel Boone make a living? How did that foreshadow his future endeavors?

Follow the Wilderness Trail with Daniel Boone

  • Daniel Boone Wilderness Trail– The Association has a website you can explore to find out the route of the trail which connected the land along the east and west of the Appalachian Mountains.
  • Map of the Wilderness Trail– an interactive map along with a tour of the historical sites along the way
  • Map and Mark the Wilderness Trail on state maps and/or regional US maps- for a detailed map it would be fun to print the states that trail goes through and tape them together so you can mark the trail with detail and hang it up.

Enjoy a “History Bill” video about Daniel Boone and how he helped settlers move through the wilderness.

Resources to Learn More about Daniel Boone

Thank you for stopping by. Join us tomorrow for another Geography Quest. Be sure to subscribe via email to get all the Quests in your inbox!


Geography Quest: Hurricane Tracking Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Hurricane Tracking Edition

We are coming into the end of the 2013 hurricane season, but there is still enough activity out there to track a storm. Have you ever tracked a hurricane by map?

Determine the Optimum Conditions for Hurricane Formation

  • Weather Wiz Kid has a page on Hurricanes which explains what they are and how they are formed.
  • Create-a-Cane from NOAA allows you to virtually create the ideal conditions to form a hurricane.
  • The Coriolis Effect– Watch the video below to find out how the Coriolis Effect determines where hurricanes are formed. Takes me right back to my graduate class in oceanography!
  • Locate on a map where most Atlantic hurricanes are formed. Does this area meet the ideal conditions?
  • Based on the information in the video, where do you think cyclones and typhoons are formed in the Pacific and Indian Oceans?

Track a Hurricane with a Hurricane Tracking Map

  • Hurricane Tracking Chart– for the Atlantic Basin
  • Use the chart and meteorological websites to keep track of tropical depressions, tropical storms, and hurricanes.
  • If you have a mobile device, it might be fun to find a hurricane tracking app. You can follow the storms that way as well.

That is a challenge should you choose to accept it. While the Atlantic hurricane season has been quiet this year, the cyclone season in the Pacific has not been. Enjoy a look at hurricane formation and tracking.

Follow along with all the Geography Quests. Make sure to subscribe via email and check any of Blog, She Wrote’s other social media outlets in my sidebar. Thanks for joining us!


Geography Quest: Snake Pit Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

Today’s Geography Quest is inspired by a project R13 took on at the start of summer- a snake. We found a pile of garter snakes at the foot of our mailbox under some rocks and she asked to keep one. The rest, as they say, is history.

The Snake Project

Throughout the summer, R13 has been caring for her snake– actually it started out as the family snake, but very quickly it was obvious that R was the one who was catching slugs and worms to feed him and it became her snake.

As we approached the new school year and I thought about her science course, I consulted with her and she decided to take on The Snake ProjectProject Based Homeschool style for the first quarter. If she is on task with the project and still has more ground to cover, I’m willing to see it through another quarter. This is entirely student driven and I step in as a consultant at times.

So far she’s been checking items off of her list. Here’s just a snippet of what she’s been researching:

  • anatomy and physiology of snakes
  • habitat
  • types of snakes and classification
  • care of snakes– in particular she’s been reading about brumation (hibernation of reptiles) in preparation for winter. Will Clyde the snake be placed so that he can brumate for the winter? Or will we arrange to feed him weekly from the pet store through the winter until his regular diet is available outdoors again.

More on R’s Snake Project another time. For now, let’s talk about the Geography Quest this study has inspired. Are you ready for adventure?

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

Explore the Narcisse Snake Den in Manitoba, Canada

R13 became interested in the Narcisse den when she discovered the book, The Snake Scientist by Sy Montgomery. This great little book details the research of Bob Mason who was a scientist from Oregon State studying behavior of the snakes at the den.

I think it’s a unique, non-fiction, picture book because it tells how the scientists conduct the research detailing the methods of collection and the data they are trying to gather. It’s a peek into the work of a real life scientist and it’s all about garter snakes.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Snake Pit Edition

I thought it would be a fun exploration to visit the snake pit on a Geography Quest. Snake lovers you are in for a treat! Visit Snakes Alive! page to learn all about Manitoba’s famous snake den.

You can read the Snake Log 2013 from 2013 to find out how the season went. The observation season is over now because the snakes have all returned to their dens for the winter.

What’s it like to have tens of thousands of snakes emerging at once out of the ground? Take a look at this video.

Want more videos? There’s a whole page of them to view at the Narcisse Snake Den site.

The Manitoba Herps Atlas– take a look and be part of the project that is mapping the species of reptiles and amphibians that live in Manitoba, Canada.

Search for and Investigate Other Snake Pits around The World

Are there more snake dens like this in the world? The Narcisse is the largest of its kind in the world, but surely there must be more places where snakes gather in large numbers. A very quick search revealed another spot.

Snake Island off the Brazil Coast– Lancehead viper snakes live here at about 1 per 3 feet. Given the viper’s deadly bite, you are never more than three feet away from death. We learned that people are forbidden to visit there (except for a few scientists) by order of the Brazilian Navy. Finding this gem led me to¬† Atlas Obscura. What a find! You can explore and share the world’s hidden wonders there. Warning: some of the information and attractions here may not be suitable for all ages.

Your challenge is to do some more research and find out where there are reported gatherings of large numbers of snakes and map them. We can let Indiana Jones know where not to go. He’s not a fan of snake pits. Are you?


Geography Quest: Safari

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Safari

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Have you ever wanted to go on a safari? How about a trip to the zoo? Today’s Geography Quest invites your students to map the origins of their favorite animals.

Map the Habitats of Your Favorite Animals

  • Make a list of your favorite animals
  • Find the range of each animal in an atlas or encyclopedia
  • Cut out pictures of the animals or draw them and place them on a world map (or a map of a particular continent depending on the animals on the list)
  • Mark and include a key for the terrain in the areas where your animal is found (mountain, desert, marine, etc)

Map Animal Populations around the World

High School or younger curious students can look up one species of animal and map its distribution across its habitat.

  • Choose a species to investigate- perhaps an endangered species
  • Research where these animals are found and in what numbers.
  • Mark and key the animal populations on a map.
  • Investigate a struggling species along with its threat- if it’s another animal species, map that one also and see if there is a correlation.

Mapping animal populations is a fun activity which can reveal a lot about climate and biology in addition to the geography of an area.

Thanks for joining us for the Autumn, 1013 Hopscotch from the iHomeschool Network. Sign up for Blog, She Wrote via email so you don’t miss any of the Geography Quests.


Geography Quest: Game Edition

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quests- Game Edition

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Welcome to Day 2 of Family Geography Using Geography Quests. I hope this week you’ll find some practical advice on how to have fun with geography as a family. Our family loves to play games. How about you? Here’s a list of the geography themed games in our closet. Which are your favorites?

Games for United States Geography

Where in the US is Carmen Sandiego ?– This one is still around in software form and it’s easy to pick up at used book sales. While its world counterpart has gone out of date, the US edition is fun to play and is still relevant.

Scrambled States of America (and the card game version)- based on the book, The Scrambled States of America, these fun games reinforce state spellings and shapes.

Ticket to Ride– Best with the expansion, this game is loads of fun and helps to familiarize players with the continental US and its Canadian border to the north. You have to build routes by collecting train tickets.

Borderline (US)– a card game where you lay down cards that border ones that have been placed down.

Great States– This game touts landmarks and state industry along with state capitols and a detailed map for reference.

Great States Junior– great little game for primary kids on US Geography. You can match state shapes and learn state spellings or what states begin with M, for example. One card set is all landmarks for each state and the board is big and colorful for players to reference.

10 Days in the USA– this is a tough game where you try to build a ten day itinerary with some rules that make it more difficult- like not being able to switch your cards after you first place them.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Game Edition

Games for World Geography

Ticket to Ride Europe (and the expansion)- There are a few European versions which focus on one country or region of Europe, but this is the whole of Europe and it has rules not introduced in the original version.

Borderline– a card game where you build on opportunity with border cards you hold.

Around the World in 80 Days– based on the book by Jules Verne. You get the sequence in which the trip was taken along with the general setting of the story in a game.

RISK/Axis & Allies– allows kids to have some general geography awareness with necessarily being entirely accurate. RISK is all about world domination, but Axis and Allies is a World War II themed game. So, if you have any WWII buffs (like I do), this game is a lot like RISK but way more detailed and you have different resources to work with like planes and a navy.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Game Edition

10 Days in the Americas– This is the newest of the 10 Days series of games and concentrates on the geography of North and South America.

10 Days in Europe– Travel around Europe by foot or car in this itinerary building game.

10 Days in Asia– This map includes Oceania and the rest of Asia. You can travel by boat, car, railroad and it’s the most intricate of the 10 Days series.

10 Days in Africa– All about the continent of Africa you can travel by air, car, or foot. You’ll know the countries in Africa in no time after playing this one a few times.

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Game Edition

Make Your Own Geography Games

We make our own games as well. E15 made a Truth about New York game a few years ago which plays like Monopoly only you can build parks and monuments instead of hotels and houses among other things. The first time he hand made the cards and once it was destined for the New York State Fair, he upped his “game” and worked out the cards on the computer. It came home with a blue!

Blog, She Wrote: Geography Quest- Game Edition

Find out more about making your own games from materials and resources to themes for games in the post Adventures with Games.

In the game Conversion, you are a missionary who is trying to convert the peoples to Christianity. The geography in this game is Europe (in the Middle Ages).

Games are fun way to go Geography Questing as a family. Pull out your favorite game and play today. Better yet, work on plans to make your own game. Don’t forget to subscribe to Blog, She Wrote via email so you don’t miss this Hopscotch series on Family Geography Using Geography Quests. You can see what other iHN bloggers are up to this series by clicking the picture below.


Family Geography Using Geography Quests

Blog, She Wrote: Family Geography Using Geography Quests

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Welcome to the Autumn 2013 iHomeschool Network Hopscotch. For the next ten days, I will be sharing ideas for doing family geography using the Geography Quests here at Blog, She Wrote. If you haven’t subscribed by email, please consider it now so you don’t miss any of this Geography Quest “Blitz”.

Geography Quests are for Homeschooling Multiple Ages

Each Quest is appropriate for students from primary on up to high school. Some topics are more basic for younger students and some are more difficult. If your high schooler is a geography buff, he might help the younger students in their Quest, but some of the topics offer opportunities for older students to learn about nautical maps or apple distribution, for example.

Blog, She Wrote: Family Geography Using Geography Quests

Resources for Geography Quests

We use a variety of atlases and books to help us with our Geography Quests. Besides wall maps, we have a good set of references along with some computer based resources.

World Atlas for Young Explorers by National Geographic – large sized, easy to read atlas of the world for students.

United States Atlas for Young Explorers by National Geographic- large maps with lots of information on resources and landmarks along with industry in each state.

Rand McNally Road Atlas– for the current year. We do lots of mapping with a road atlas.

Children’s Illustrated Atlas of the United States– Lots of explanations and information in this atlas so it’s more than maps.

Scholastic Atlas of the World– our oldest atlas. We’ve had this one since E15 was in first grade.

Rand McNally Answer Atlas– another fun source of information and easily used with geography curriculum.

WonderMaps by Bright Ideas Press- map software that is customizable and always up-to-date. It’s easy to grab a quick map with WonderMaps- you don’t have to make copies or keep track of a CD or digital file since it’s web based.

Google Earth– this is a free computer model globe that can take you and your kids all around the world. You can see satellite images from space along with actual photos on location from people who have uploaded them from around the world.

Google Earth Lessons– a site devoted to classroom use of Google Earth. It’s well worth the time to look through and discover what this site has to offer. You’ll find a lot of lessons and ideas here.

Weekly Geography with Geography Quests

Each week here at Blog, She Wrote I post a Geography Quest. Subscribe and join along with us.

For today’s Geography Quest, try out Google Earth! Choose a favorite destination and see if you can find photos of that place offered by visitors. Leave a comment and tell us where you choose to visit and what you found there. Have fun!

The iHomeschool Network is hosting the Autumn, 2013 Hopscotch for the next ten days. Join other bloggers to see what their fun topics are for the next two weeks.

Day 1: Family Geography Using Geography Quests

Day 2: Geography Quest: Game Edition

Day 3: Geography Quest: Safari

Day 4: Geography Quest: Snake Pit Edition

Day 5: Geography Quest: Hurricane Tracking Edition

Day 6: Geography Quest: Daniel Boone Edition

Day 7: Geography Quest: Europe Edition

Day 8: Geography Quest: Bird Migration Edition

Day 9: Geography Quest: Forest Edition

Day 10: Geography Quest: Operation Christmas Child Edition