Mapping the World by Heart Frequently Asked Questions

How many map sets will I need?

FableVision Learning offers the maps for Mapping the World by Heart in sets. Each set contains ten 11"x17" double-sided full color regional maps, and seven 11"x17" black outline world maps (including three blank grids which students can use as they learn to create their own maps). There are also eight 8.5"x11" black outline maps for the appendices. Each student will need at least one map set, although you may want to order more to have additional copies for review or enrichment. You will want to make copies of the blank grids for the black outline world maps, so students can practice on them.

I would like more information on the curriculum. What are the lessons like? 

The teacher’s guide provides a framework for teaching geography, which can be easily adapted to meet your needs. It is laid out as a “Menu of Lessons” — you can see more on the different parts of the curriculum below.

  • The "Appetizers" section includes lesson plans (like The Grapefruit Lesson) that help your students understand important geography terms and concepts.

  • The "Entrées" section is the "backbone of the location and place segments of the curriculum." It presents a group of map checklists for students, and the procedure for each lesson is approximately the same. Students use atlases or maps from outside the curriculum to shade and label blank maps. After those initial maps are checked for accuracy, review activities begin (including games suggested in a later section of the binder). It's recommended that you also put together and give quizzes during the Entrée portion of the curriculum – author David Smith recommends marking countries and features with numbers and having students identify them, or asking students to complete a "fill in the blank" type of test.
  • The "Dessert" section provides instructions for having your students create exquisite memory maps of the world – working entirely from memory.
  • The "Seasonings" section includes further activities for review and enrichment. You will find a section on mnemonic devices and some creative games that can be used throughout the year when reviewing different regions. There's also a detailed research project called “The World Experts Lesson,” during which students research and put on a "World Fair." All of these activities provide students with opportunities to collaborate and learn from each other.
  • The "Resources" section includes information on Standard Time, a long list of prompts to encourage further exploration, a list of all the independent states in the world, and a page teaching "hello," "goodbye," and "thank you" in the 13 most common languages.

How long does the curriculum take? How much time is spent on a given day or week?

Here is a downloadable PDF of the yearlong agenda provided in the curriculum (although it does not feature the “Seasonings” and “Resources” sections listed under the question above). However, David Smith emphasizes that the curriculum can easily be adapted to meet your needs. For example, you may prefer to focus on a specific region or carry out a 10-week mini unit. You can spend more or less time on different parts of the curriculum, or choose to emphasize specific regions. Or, you can follow David's yearlong agenda exactly if you wish.

Can I see a sample lesson from the curriculum?

To view a popular sample lesson from the “Appetizers” section of the curriculum, download this PDF of The Grapefruit Lesson. This simple yet fun lesson is meant to be completed early in the year, so students have a better idea of the inevitable distortions in different map projections. The Appetizers section has other activities like this. They are designed to familiarize your students with geographical concepts and types of maps (i.e. longitude and latitude, topographical maps, etc.).

I do not know much about geography. Will I still be able to use this curriculum with my students?

Absolutely! If you have not taught geography before, you will learn a great deal WITH your students as you use this curriculum.

It’s all right if you do not have an existing geography curriculum, although you will need to provide your students with one atlas per student or per group of students who are working together; also, other handy reference tools include a globe, and one or more copies of almanacs (such as The World Almanac, The Time Almanac, etc.). The creator, David Smith, offers recommendations for these on his website.

I am a homeschooling parent with only one student. Will I still be able to use the curriculum with my student?

Mapping the World by Heart has been incredibly successful with homeschooling families. While it is true that many of the activities in Mapping the World by Heart are designed for classes and groups of students, most can be adapted for one or only a few students. Students may work independently or pair up and work together. Whether you are using the curriculum with one student or a group of students, you will find that it is flexible. It is also highly recommended that parents and teachers do the program with their children, rather than try to “teach” it. In this way, teachers will understand the issues much more clearly, and can be more helpful; in addition, in a very small homeschool setting, a parent and student who are both working on a region can create review activities and games for each other.


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