Grade 4 – Second Local Geography Block

This post details two geography blocks. The first, was the second geography block of my daughter’s fourth grade year. The second part of the post will cover my son’s second geography block, done two years later than my daughter’s. Geez, I hope that makes sense. You can also check out my post on our first local geography blocks.

So, first, my daughter’s work:

Our second local geography block focused on our local county, and the great state of Texas. We had a guided tour of our county courthouse where we learned SO much about our local county history, about the materials used to build the historic courthouse and where they were quarried or acquired.

h 12 courthouseh 13 courthouse

We took a good look at Texas and what forms the borders, then we painted the state with wet-on-wet watercolor. The next day, I asked her to take another good look, put the map away, and, from memory, draw the state with block crayons:

h 20 painted texas maph 11 texas map from memory

We talked about cotton and the railroads, and the effect they had on our developing community. We took a trip on a local historical railroad, visited a local historical farm and picked cotton. We brought our cotton home and found out just how difficult it is to pick out those seeds by hand!

h 14 railroad picture

h 15 cotton cowboys railroadh 16 cotton cowboys railroad

She had one last page left in her book, so she decided to draw the state flag:

h 17 texas flag

At some point in the block, we talked about orienteering. I had her make me a treasure hunt around the house, which she thought was a great way to get out of drawing and writing for the day! My son would have thought this to be torture, but my daughter loved it. So she made me this fabulous hunt, and at the end I found flowers and chocolate beautifully wrapped in a coffee filter. Perfect treasure!

h 18 treasure hunth 19 treasure hunt

We were blessed last year to have a man volunteer at our local nature center to teach our homeschooling students the art and skill of orienteering. It was wonderful! We learned how to orient ourselves in the wilderness with and without a compass. This enhanced our geography studies beautifully! Plus, it was loads of fun!

And now for my son’s second local geography block work:

All Around Texas: Regions and Resources

We drew a map of Texas, and we learned about some of the different regions… the plains, the mountains, the coast, etc. We talked about regions that we have travelled through and what they are like, and I showed him picture of places we have not seen in person. As we moved through the block, we filled in more details on the map.

s 09 map of texas

I found a great book that told the story of Cabeza de Vaca exploring Texas in the 1500’s: Explorers in Early Texas. He was shipwrecked near Corpus Christi, and spent eight years as an Indian slave, living off the land, and trying to find his way home. The story is wonderfully told by Betsy Warren in her book, giving details of his colorful and difficult travels, including the native plants and animals that kept him alive.


s 10 cabeza de vaca

So after Cabeza de Vaca, more explorers came from Spain, looking for a land of gold and silver. The Spanish, fearing starvation on their journeys, brought cattle with them to feed the conquistadors. As they returned to Mexico, some cattle were abandoned or escaped to roam freely on the prairies for hundreds of years. When the settlers arrived in the 1800’s, the early ranchers rounded up the cattle to start building up the ranches. Tough men were needed to round up these wild cattle… thus, the Texas cowboy was born.

s 11 cowboys

Another important aspect of the growth of our area was cotton. Since our climate is hot and dry in the summer, it is perfect for growing cotton, and lots of it! However, cotton is heavy, and it was difficult to transport by horse and wagon. When the railroads came, the industry boomed, as the great bales of cotton could be transported to the textile mills in the northeast United States as well as London. This also spurred the growth of the cattle industry, since the development of barbed wire fencing made it increasingly difficult to transport the cattle to the north via the great cattle drives.

s 12 railroad

And finally, we talked about oil. How it is harvested and processed, and the impact it has on our economy. We looked at old photos of oil drills, photos of new ones, and remembered the old pumps we still see from the highway from time to time. My son had listened in on our study of fossil fuels during my daughter’s geology lessons last year, so he was already somewhat familiar with the process.

s 13 oil

A sampling of my drawings and paintings:

m 04 cabeza de vacam 05 cabeza de vaca 2

m 06 railroadm 07 oil painting

m 08 texas mapm 09 map painting

m 10 courthousem 11 desk map

m 01 chalkboard

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

3 Responses to Grade 4 – Second Local Geography Block

  1. Audrey Elwood says:

    Hello! I must tell you that I thoroughly enjoy your blog…and thank you for doing this! I do have a question for you….Have you purchased the “Live! Education” curriculum? And do you think it is worth it to buy it, if you have? I am considering, but every curriculum I have ever bought in the past, I have found unnecessary….yet, it looks like it may be of value from the website…Thanks you again for the time you invest to share your work with us!! Audrey Elwood

    • Waldorf Mom says:

      I have had the same experience with Live Education. It is expensive, and I never feel like I used it enough to justify the expense. This year (seventh grade) is my first year without it. Instead, I spent all of our hard-earned money on Eugene Schwartz’ conferences. Now, these conferences will not save me much money, and I don’t have books to sell when the conference is over, but I still consider it money well spent. I have my tedious-notes, and I read them throughout the year, plus I have all sorts of other resources from the bookstore, library, and friends.

  2. amylee7978 says:

    Hi, there – We met at the local Summer Solstice celebration last year (I sang the firefly song with the kids). I just want to leave you a quick note to say I have referenced your blog ever since. It is beautiful! It is helping me as I plan for the coming homeschool year with my first and fourth graders. Thank you so much for your beautiful work and careful documentation. I hope to see you again soon!

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