Grade(s): 4th and up
Prep Time: Minimal
Teacher Manual: DVD format
Teacher Involvement: Essential
Cost: $$ || ?
Pages: 320 pages
Publication Date: 2009
Review Updated: 4/28/2014
Reviewer: Alessa Giampaolo Keener, M.Ed.
Mapping the World With Art, not to be confused with Mapping the World By Heart, is one of the most popular homeschool geography curriculums on the market. The concept is simple and easy to implement: Read a 2-page mini-history lesson and then draw a map about the historical and geographical region. For the less artistic, you can watch 6 hours of instructional DVDs to help with the drawing and painting portions of the lesson.
As you work your way through 30 history and art lessons, you get a sense of time and place in the world. With 100 pages of supplemental activities, you can easily expand your lessons with videos, hands-on projects, and even worksheets so you can create a truly meaningful middle school social studies credit. The curriculum culminates by having kids create a complete map of the world in any art medium they choose.
No doubt exists that you’ll gain invaluable art experience from this curriculum. The step-by-step directions, along with the pictures detailing how to draw each map, are exceptionally executed. Blending art with map-making offers a refreshing new take on a subject that doesn’t always get its fair share of attention.
History-loving readers, however, will most likely take note of some of the generalized (and questionable) statements sprinkled throughout the book. For example, in the Marco-Polo lesson, McHenry states, “… Kublai Khan (the grandson of the infamous Genghis Kan), had requested that missionaries come to his kingdom to teach his people about Christianity.” In addition, McHenry offers a minimalist “fanciful” comment that does not begin to do justice in discussing how Marco Polo’s journey to China has never been fully believed as having actually happened – beginning with his own contemporaries in Venice. (Read a short, non-academic biography of Marco Polo.) More scholary history lovers may even cringe at the more esoteric mistakes, such as referring to “Germanic tribes” as “Germans” – a geo-political term that describes a different time period and people.
Another concern for some families may be the curriculum’s hyper-focus on Western Civilization, despite being a world geography class. While McHenry touches on each of the 7 continents, it’s disappointing to see that Africa only warrants one lesson (well, technically 2, if you count the lesson on the Nile River). As the birthplace for all of mankind; the home to many varied and rich cultures; and a land with deep connections to America – it’s disappointing to see such a cursory nod being given.
While the curriculum is essentially secular, you will find a smattering of Christian references, such as a passing mention of the Shroud of Turin. Families should also note that in addition to purchasing the book, they will also need to buy a variety of art materials.
16- Malay Peninsula & Southern Asia
17- Pacific Islands
18- Strait of Magellan & Phillipines
19- North America, East coast
20- Gulf of St. Lawrence
21- North America, West coast
23- Low Countries, Ireland, & Iceland
24- Northern Canada
26- Australia & New Zealand
28- Rest of North America & Asia
29- Other Pacific Islands
About the Author:
Ellen J McHenry is a homeschool mother who holds an art degree, with a minor in math, from Penn State. She has worked as a professional illustrator for more than 20 years. During her years teaching homeschool co-op science classes, Ellen recognized a need for a different type of instructional material and so her career as a curriculum writer was born.
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