I am going to start this post by saying Geography is one of those subjects that I just was not sure about. I feel like I have found my feet with Secondary English, Maths, History and Art but Geography has never been one of my subjects. However both of my kids are starting to really get into it. It started because Geography naturally links into their two key areas of interest. My son loves learning about animal science and things like biomes, maps, landforms all seem to naturally link into his Animal Science learning. And with my daughter she has naturally wanted to learn about different countries, how they develop, maps and even landforms because it also links in really nicely with the History that she is so interested in. So Geography has just naturally developed as a subject and both kids are now finding it fascinating, so much so that I am starting to see it as a possible exam subject. Which means I want to make sure we are covering the right basics and it also means I need to brush up on my knowledge because I just don’t have the background knowledge with Geography like I do with History, Art and even Science.
So I searched LONG and HARD for a good Geography book that we could use – I read lots of reviews, tried to find photos of inside pages and really spent ages trying to figure out what would work for us. And I always ended up coming back to the Oxford Geog.123 range. I just liked the look of their pages – short, concise paragraphs, step-by-step explanations, clear illustrations and photographs. I also liked the sound of what they included in their first book – Maps, UK, Glaciers, Rivers, Africa and Kenya – all topics (except for Glaciers) that we had already highlighted as areas to learn about this year. So I contacted Oxford and asked if we could review the Geog.1 student book. They kindly agreed and send us both the student book and the corresponding workbook.
This range is designed as a three year Key Stage 3 range (so for Key Stage 3 they have 3 different books – Geog.1, Geog.2 and Geog.3). From the reviews I have read everyone is happy with the way they have split the content between the 3 books. At this stage I am only commenting on the Geog.1 books.
The Student Book is the “explanation book” – it is colourful but not over the top bright – my daughter is finding it very easy to use and does not get overwhelmed by it. It explains a concept over a double page and then at the bottom there is a “Your Turn” section which are questions covering what the kids have just learnt.
Now the answers are NOT included in the student book but are in a separate answer book (for me this is the one negative as I would have liked them to include the answers in the same book). However having said that we have been working through the questions and so far there is nothing that I have been uncertain about (we don’t have the answer book). The Workbook is a black and white question book – no explanations, no colour, just practice questions – some multiple choice, some sentence answers, some draw your own diagrams – a good mix of different type questions.
And the workbook really does go hand-in hand with the student book – they cover exactly the same topics, in the same order.
So what is actually covered in these books?
- Geography and You – Introducing Geography and a bit about how to answer the questions
- Maps and Mapping – Scale, using aerial photos, grid references, ordnance maps, contour lines and grid lines
- UK – some basic background facts, UK weather, UK population, London and then links to the wider world around us.
- Glaciers (now we were not planning on covering Glaciers this year but after browsing through the section my daughter is keen to look at Glaciers in more detail) – Background and where they are found, how Glaciers work, landforms created by erosion, Lake District and why Glaciers matter.
- Rivers – The Thames, water cycle, The river’s journey, how it shapes the land (erosion, transportation, Deposition), 6 landforms created by rivers, Thames Estuary and Flooding
- Africa – background about Africa and what it is like today, Countries of Africa (one of my pet peeves is people who talk about Africa as one country so we have already been learning about the different countries of Africa), population in Africa, physical features and biomes
- Kenya – general background, physical features, climate, history about its independence, population, Nairobi and then general life in Kenya.
And how do we actually use them as part of our home education? Well we tend to sit together on our couch and read through a page or two together, chat about it, and even work through the Your Turn Questions from the student book together (my 11 year old daughter and her younger eight year old brother). Then my daughter takes her workbook and goes and works through the questions in that by herself. For us that means we all cover the same topics, so we then tend to watch the same follow up documentaries and can chat about it together but it also means by daughter is getting some practice with answering written questions by herself. (When we started using the workbook she was nervous about creating her own diagrams for answers – now she is not concerned when she sees a create your own labelled diagram question – I think she just needed to work through a few for herself). We also don’t stick to the order, we do tend to jump around a bit. We have been working through the Rivers section but we happened to watch a documentary on Africa and then we jumped to the Biomes and physical features of Africa pages and read those. I think you could easily start at page 1 and work though the book in that order, or you could just take the topics in any order.
We really like this range for Geography, the format and style works well for us. I also think the addition of the workbook is really useful in that it gives extra examples and questions which means kids can practice to build up their confidence so “scary” questions are no longer scary.
You can buy these books directly from OUP or from Amazon (affiliate links below)
Admin – I approached Oxford and asked if we could review the Geog.1 student book.