Grade 4 – First Local Geography Block

I have never written a post about geography. Why? I have always struggled with putting together a geography block that is satisfying to me. I have trouble making these blocks feel cohesive, organized, and interesting. Although, it is finally getting a little bit easier. So here are a few ideas, in case you have the same trouble!

This post includes my daughter’s first local geography block, completed about 3 years ago, and then my son’s first local geography block, completed last year. I plan to post the work from our second geography block next week.

I think the first poem in my daughter’s book came from Got Geography, but I am not sure. My daughter is in seventh grade now, so some of the details are a little fuzzy!

Got Geography!

h 01 map poem

Then she drew a map of her desk and calculated the area and perimeter:

h 02 mapsh 03 desk map

We talked about the compass rose, and carefully drew one (freehand):

h 04 compass rose texth 05 compass rose

Next we explored our local neighborhood and town. We have a mound of preserved native flowers and grasses in our town, so we rode our bikes there one day. My daughter sketched a few of the wildflowers there, and created a beautiful dry painting, but alas, I don’t know where it is! We talked about the way of life of the native Indians in our area. We walked around our house and an open field, and tried to imagine what the land looked like then.

h 06 flower moundh 07 indian children

We also spent some time talking about how the land around our home was formed. We have explored a local nature center extensively with naturalists over the years, so we have some understanding of the land formations and fossils. It was great to put that into the book. We talked about the Norse Creation story… and the worlds of Fire and Ice colliding. Some modern scientists believe this may be how our planet was formed… a ball of fire, lava, and gases, colliding with icy comets. How did the Norsemen know?

h 08 the earthh 09 the earth

I found some information at the local library about the history of our town and land. Many cities and towns have books written by the local historical society that cover the local topography and history. Our local history book also included first-hand accounts of early settlers, so it was wonderful to read those stories to the children, and imagine what it was like to live here over 150 years ago. We also looked up geography related words in the dictionary:

h 10 pioneers

There is a man-made lake in our area that we like to visit quite often. I found a map at the library of what the land looked like before the lake was built in the 40’s. We found that the names of the farms that were there before the lake, have been carried over to sloughs, roads, and other landmarks around the lake. We painted maps of the area as it was in the early 1900’s, and how it looks today:

h 21 grapevine areah 22 grapevine lake

The whole family took a guided kayak trip down one of our local rivers, which was great fun! I did not have the children do any book work as a result of our kayak trip… just let it fill their minds with another experience of our local landscape. They did write thank-you notes to our guides.

kayak hannah (10)

Last year I had the opportunity to visit Local Geography again with my son. Here is his book cover and freehand compass rose. The rose was drawn with watercolor pencils, then a damp paintbrush was carefully used over the pencil drawing.

s 01 covers 02 compass

A map of his desk:

s 03 desk map

A map of the schoolroom:

s 04 schoolroom map

I told him a local Native American myth:

s 05 indian myth

We studied what life was like for the local natives:

s 06 wichita

And we learned about an important landmark in our community:

s 07 flower mound

We attempted to paint the local “Flower Mound” using a veil method. This is a watercolor painting done on dry paper over many painting sessions.

s 08 flower mound painting

Here is some of my artwork from the these blocks:

m 01 room map keym 02 schoolroom map


m 03 flower mound painting m 14 flower

My daughter and I each chose a local wildflower to paint. You can see mine above, but unfortunately I cannot find her painting. It was beautifully done in the style of botanic prints, so I think she may have given it away.

m 12 grapevine aream 13 grapevine lake

That’s it for the first geography block! I will try to get the second geography block posted soon.

This entry was posted in Geography, Grade 4, Watercolor Painting. Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Grade 4 – First Local Geography Block

  1. MA says:

    I do like those then and now maps of how how the waterways changed…Geography blocks have been hit or miss here…our local geography blocks tend to become just lots of day trips and no book work. This is our next up block with ds and I need to get in gear. Thanks for sharing your work.Oh and out of curiosity how long have you take for each of your Geo. blocks?

    • Waldorf Mom says:

      I am terrible about remembering how long our blocks were. Our schedule can get pretty weird… Some weeks we only have 3 days for main lesson… Other weeks we have 4. But I think I spent 3 weeks on our fall geography block, and 2 weeks on our spring block.

  2. I know I sound like a broken record, but thank you so much for posting about geography. I will be starting my first geography block next year and need all the help I can get!
    What is hard for me is that I am not a native of my country, let alone my town, having moved here fairly recently. Plus all my Waldorf resources originate in the US or Europe, but I am in the southern hemisphere. On top of it all there is very little local history known about my area as it suffered a massive earthquake in the 1930s and most of the records were lost. Finally, how do you explain to a sensitive 10 year old that the landscape was remolded by a massive earthquake not that long ago?
    As I said, I need all the help I can get LOL!

  3. Waldorf Mom says:

    Hi Cathy,

    I am glad you enjoyed the post. I completely understand what you are saying about the earthquake. If we lived in a place that was badly damaged not so long ago, my son would freak out! We live in an area of the U.S. that is plagued by tornadoes. This worries my son so much, that sometimes he gets physically ill when we have to take cover. It is awful. So, that may not be a topic that you are ready for at this age.

    How about going to have a talk with your local librarian? She may have some ideas.

    You could just skip the ‘history’ of the landscape. You could talk about the forces that change the earth when you study your continent in 5th grade, or whenever. This will also be discussed in 6th grade mineralogy.

    In this first block, we talked about the natives and how they used the land, and what it looked like before it was developed. You will see in my next post that we studied local industry in our area in the second block. In our area, that meant cowboys, cattle, cotton, oil, and railroads. In some areas it may be logging, farming, fishing, etc. So now our local area does not have a lot of farms… It is mostly telecommunications, airline travel, etc. I mentioned that too.

    So I suppose we just have to look around us. You could just go out for walks, bike rides, boat rides… Draw maps and pictures of what you see.

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