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Catholic Homeschool Articles, Advice & Resources

The New Geography Skills 5 for Young Catholics – Reviewed by a Seton Counselor


Elementary counselor Laura Fusto reviews a new Seton geography workbook filled with maps, photos of landmarks, and short activities in each lesson.

As a Seton counselor and a former homeschooling parent, I am excited to introduce Seton’s new Geography 5 for Young Catholics workbook. This fifth-grade book, the third in this series, focuses on the Western United States. This series replaces the map skills books used in the past. After reviewing the new fifth-grade book, I wished it had been available while homeschooling my little ones.

The first thing I noticed when I saw the new book was that it was titled Geography Skills instead of Map Skills. Why did this name change? This brand-new book and the others in this series introduce an additional discipline to our elementary students: geography.

While map skills tell us where things are, geography “seeks to answer the questions of why things are as they are, where they are,” as stated by Britannica. While the old books concentrated only on map reading skills, the new books combine both disciplines. Elementary students will now be better prepared for high school geography. Hurrah!

Reverently Catholic

The most exciting thing about this book and all the books in the series is that Seton writes it. Why is this exciting? It’s Catholic! Of course, in true Seton fashion, the book’s cover displays a beautiful photograph of a Catholic geographical site, the Mission San Xavier del Bac.

As I turned to Lesson 1, I noticed that a prayer to Saint Albert the Great, patron of the natural sciences, began the lesson. Nice! Then I skimmed through the rest of the book and discovered that all of the lessons begin with a prayer to a saint associated with the lesson being studied—what’s not to like about that?

In the workbook activities, students’ memory skills are constantly tested based on maps that have been studied. Students don’t just study and locate things on maps; they are also given blank maps to fill in from memory. The book even introduces the concept of mnemonics–an essential skill for memorizing geography concepts and material in many other disciplines.

Learning to “Think Harder”

This book also challenges the student’s deductive reasoning skills. For example, many map skills books would ask the student to find Switzerland on a map of Europe by telling him that Switzerland borders France, Germany, and Italy.

Seton’s new book asks the student to locate Switzerland by only providing him with the official languages spoken there (French, German, and Italian). The book does a great job of making students think. (Don’t our kids love it when we tell them to “think harder?”)

On top of everything else, this book is visually vivid and student-friendly. In addition to maps, there are photos of geographic landmarks throughout the book. Also, there are a variety of short activities in each lesson to help hold the attention of even the most fidgety kid.

I am not the only Seton staff member who loves this book. To quote the sentiments of one staff member after he looked through the book, “Wow! I sure wish I had this book as a kid.” I hope your kids enjoy this book the way he wished he had.

About Laura Fusto

Laura Fusto
Laura Fusto received her BA in Communications from McDaniel College. She and her husband, John, have been blessed with three daughters. In her spare time, she enjoys gardening, golfing, shopping with her daughters, and playing pinochle with her husband and their friends.

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