The sixth graders of Davis Waldorf School (no, we really did not take a filed trip to Europe - but that would have been molto fantastico!) came back from their winter break to learn a little about geography. The three branches of geography are physical (biomes, cartography, coordinates), human (cultures, populations), and environmental (resource management).
We learned about the different biomes of the world (forest, grassland, tundra, desert, marine, and freshwater). The students created dioramas of their biomes, which we called "bioramas." They were spectacular! Some had fashioned trees from wire and frayed rope, animals from beeswax, snow from old cotton jerseys, and rocky cliffs from clay.
We learned about latitude and longitude, and how to make accurate maps using a grid technique.
To study human geography, the students are researching European countries for their reports. It is a big undertaking for the sixth graders as they are learning to choose the right resources and compile information about the land, the culture, and landmarks. They are writing creatively and using illustrations to create beautiful reports.
To bring in the global, environmental consciousness into our work, I had the students list their observations of things outside our classroom. It was not surprising that when I had them categorize their observations between human, human-made, and nature-made, most things they listed were human-made. I had told them that it was very important how our geography is closely tied to human impact, that it was our responsibility to always be mindful of how we interact with our earth.