Galloping The Globe: The Geography Unit Study For Young Learners, by Loreé Pettit & Dari Mullins
From my youth I have been fascinated by the study of geography, and this book provides an example of a unit study for those who are homeschooling children in elementary school who wish to learn a bit about geography. This book is hardly an advanced one, but it serves as a worthwhile introduction to a unit study, which looks at a particular subject not in isolation but in a context that includes its connections with other areas. And though there are plenty of ways in which I found this particular book either extremely basic (which is no bad thing) or in error for one reason or another, the book certainly succeeds at prompting questions about the nations of the world and also provides a great many connections between political geography and other subjects that would be of interest to many parents and children. As a result, this is a book that I can certainly recommend, albeit with some comment about how it may be improved or what sort of additional aspects of geography a parent may want to introduce as part of a lesson if using this book in instructing geography and related subjects.
This book is a reasonably short one at 261 pages and is divided by continent. The book begins with instructions, which include getting started, a core book list, background information, a discussion of the CD-ROM, teaching tips and general activities, as well as a sample schedule and contact information for resources. After that the author provides a brief discussion on how to use a map as well as basic geography. After this the authors look at selected countries within all continents. First the authors provide a look at Asia that focuses on China, South Korea, Japan, India and Israel. The lessons for Europe include a focus on Russia, Great Britain, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands (but not the Dutch territories in the Caribbean), and Spain (but not the Canary Islands or Cueta). After this there is a discussion of the observance of Christmas around the world and then a short unit that discusses the North and South poles so as to give a bit of information about the Arctic Ocean as well as Antarctica. The unit for North America unsurprisingly focuses on Canada, the United States, and Mexico. The unit on South America looks at Brazil, Venezuela, Peru, and Argentina. The unit for Africa then looks at South Africa, Kenya, Morocco (but not Western Sahara), Nigeria, and Egypt. The unit for Oceania then focuses on Australia and New Zealand. After this the book ends with an Appendix that discusses 3-D maps, a dictionary, and reports on biographies, countries, and animals, as well as answer keys and an index.
Among the more irritating aspects of this book for me was the inconsistency by which the author defined nations and geography. For example, the basic maps of countries, which usually showed only the outline, were wildly inconsistent in the areas that were chosen as part of boundaries. The map for France did not show Corsica, although the map of Italy showed Sardinia and Sicily. The map for Great Britain did not show the Shetland Islands or Northern Ireland or the Isle of Man or the Channel Islands or Gibraltar or any of the existing British imperial possessions, while the map for Israel only included the 1948 borders and nothing won in the Six Days War. The maps in general failed to show imperial territories, so we saw no Puerto Rico or Guam or American Samoa or the Northern Mariana Islands or Virgin Islands for the United States, nor New Caledonia or Martinique or Tahiti or French Guiana for France. And so on and so forth. The authors also show a consistent mainstream Christian approach that links the Bible, history, science, literature, recipes, puzzles, and games with geography and encourage the reading of a lot of sources that show missionary work in various countries as being essential to understanding the geography of places. This is not problematic for me, but it is worth commenting on as some people may be surprised at an approach that encourages such in-depth study.