Having worked our way through Theresa Blain's book, Visualize World Geography In 7 Minutes a Day, has sent our family's geography learning curve straight up recently. This book has been a delightful addition to our homeschool. "Pictography" is at the heart of this approach and has helped us learn and locate countries around the world. Illustrations, musical jingles on an accompanying CD, and stories combine to solidify the country being learned.
Theresa A. Blain, the book's creative author and illustrator, has a BA and MA in Behavioral Sciences and has taken over 100 of the world's nations and made them into pictographies for easier mnemonic/memory retention. Mrs. Blain writes from a Christian perspective and her acknowledgments and preface bear witness to her faith. Our 12-year-old son, 9-year-old daughter and I worked on "Visualize WorldGeography" daily for short periods of time. The children were immediately eager to get their hands on the book and look at the creative pictographies on their own.
Theresa recommends using the book 7 minutes a day to learn two nations for ptimal results. Doing this, we were soon working our way around the many nations of Africa, then we were off across the Atlantic to South America and onward we traveled. At the beginning of each regional chapter is a map of that continental area highlighting the pictography about to be learned. Individual country pages include that country's color pictography, story, and reference to the CD jingle, the country's flag in color, and a small map of the country with its major cities and capital.
Additional information about the country's size, terrain, climate, geographical features, population, languages, religions, type of government, exports and currency are included. Often a country's flag colors or emblems are used in the pictographies to link those to the geographic location of the country as well.
We soon knew the 'Pan-African' colors and a bit of history as to why they were the colors often seen on African flags. Theresa was very creative with her pictographies and stories to help us recall country names, flags, religious symbols, and even links to neighboring countries, mountains or a nearby ocean. There is a useful review section at the end of each chapter's pictography with unlabeled flags to identify and a blank map to fill in.
This book comes with a CD that includes learning jingles and the proper pronunciation of country names. This is a homespun CD done by the Blain family and includes the voices of their enthusiastic and sweet children. It is not the next top hit of contemporary music, BUT it serves its purpose so we could properly wrap our tongues around foreign country names and remember geographical details.
Not every country is included in the pictographies and North America has no pictography, but its countries are included. I hardly doubt most of us North Americans need to know where Canada, Mexico and the USA are, but at this point the children and I were trying to make pictographies out of North American countries as well. We find ourselves making up more stories and memory links to remember the geographical information having worked with "Visualize World Geography". I was surprised to hear our 9-year old talking about, "Brazil, Bolivia, Ethiopia, Peru, and Rwanda" in a place naming game she was playing with friends; countries I doubt she was familiar enough with to have quickly recalled a few months ago and countries I wasn't talking about when I was her age.
Mrs. Blain's book is a bargain for what we learned about world Geography in a short amount of time. One of Theresa's preschool aged sons was featured on national TV for having learned so much about the world's geography from teaching in this manner. As Theresa says in her book, "Let pictography take you from clueless to knowing the world." It has for us.