As I reflect over the past semester, I find myself in a state of utter astonishment at what my children are capable of learning. Some things come so easily for them, yet I continue to struggle through it. Why do we assume children are not capable of accomplishing extraordinary things just because we did not do it ourselves?
More and more, I recognize that I am a humble learner. I have to be.
Not only is my oldest blowing holes through my arguments (and we aren’t even to Challenge B yet!), but he also teaches me Latin and beats me hands-down in world geography. Try as I might, I can’t seem to keep up with him. What’s more, when I am despairing over some seemingly daunting task that lies before me, what does he do? He grabs a Bible and reads to me. He knows that truth lies in God’s promises.
And I’m a humble learner.
We talk about how homeschooling cultivates a love of learning in our children (which it does), but what about the fact that homeschooling cultivates character in dear old Mom-Mom? It for-sure exposes the intentions of my heart, and quite frankly, my heart can look pretty ugly at times. Then there is grace – abundant grace -abounding from all directions. I am thankful for the opportunity to grow with my children. And what does that have to do with geography pin maps? I’m not sure. Maybe everything?
This world is so big yet so small. It’s stunning to think we can learn (and retain) a world map in our heads, along with countries and capitals and features. As impossible as it sounds, we can really actually hold a world map in our heads. But the fact remains that there’s always more to learn. This leads to another truth: as teachers, we are absolutely going to miss teaching some concepts along the way. Our children will never know everything. So… we give God our best and develop deep relationships with our children and show them that learning is a lifetime joy as we seek to discover more about God and His creation. I have to constantly remind myself that our love and joy of learning, and our love and joy for God, and our love and joy for each other is far more important than the to-do list. Relationship before task. It can be tough for a planner-scheduler-multitasker-type-a personality, but all of it is for naught if I don’t hold on to this truth for dear life.
So… here we are studying geography. We’ve traced maps, drawn maps, and blobbed maps. We’ve memorized countries and capitals with flashcards. Now, we’ve gathered together around pin maps to experience a family activity as we grow together in our knowledge of the world God has given us.
You know those people? The ones on the other side of the world? They are real people with real relationships, too. I think I sometimes forget that. But more and more, I am learning that when we have a map of the world in our minds – when we can automatically picture where places are – we are more likely to realize that these folks we read about in stories or hear about in the news are real people in a real location on this real earth. They are our fellow man.
A Review of Pin-It Maps
When I review a product, I spend quite a bit of time thinking about its worth. I would never want to recommend something that’s not worthwhile because I hope that those who read my articles and blog posts would feel that they can wholeheartedly trust me. Even so, I am a flawed individual who is still learning what’s valuable and what’s not. After all, we only have so many hours in a day, right? It’s really important to think about “value-added” activities because we can’t do everything.
I thought I’d approach this review like I do most of the reviews I write, but I would also write out all the things I normally leave out. Up until this point, I have shared my heart and the thoughts I usually process as I write a blog post. Perhaps this is why I’m such a sporadic blogger. It can take me weeks or months to write something because I have all these other thoughts I tackle along with it. (My thoughts often derail and go down rabbit trails. Is anyone still reading my words at this point or have you already given up on me?)
Anyway, back to Pin-It Maps. I seriously, honestly, absolutely have enjoyed using Pin-It Maps with my children. It’s a valuable tool that can be used for grades K-12 – one that not just helps with learning geographical locations and features, but also integrates science topics like biomes and volcanoes and animals. While this has provided a more interactive method for our Challenge A student to study and memorize world geography (which he truly appreciates right now!)…
…our two younger students have especially enjoyed practicing countries and water/landforms with Pin-It Maps. I love it because it’s a fun way to learn together, and it’s an activity we can pull out at any age and enjoy together. Even the maps can be used with toddlers (not with the pin flags, of course) as they place trinkets at different locations. (Note: I have not tried this with the dear one-year-old. I’m not ready to tackle that learning adventure just yet.) Later, we can pull them out after Challenge A as a refresher. I just love something I can use again and again.
Although I’ve wanted a pin map for years, I have never found the focused time or energy to make one. Now we have 8 continent maps along with 15 map keys (30 map keys if you count the front and back of each control map). When God gives us something, it can far exceed that which we expect!
The Complete Student Map Set includes everything needed for a homeschool or a small class of students. It includes 1,147 flags (Flags are cut and ready to assemble, but straight pins and storage containers must be purchased separately)…
…and 2 pieces of foam backboard with plastic corners to hold the map in place. (The photo below shows a South America pin map with the foam backboard and plastic corners.)
Each continent pin map has two control map keys (front-and-back) to check names, capitals, features, and flags of 196 countries.
With these maps, children can also learn about science-related topics such as biomes and animals.
When you’re ready to switch to a different continent, you simply take the flags off the map, store the flags and map, and use the corner protectors and backboard with a different map.
As far as map storage is concerned, we simply store the maps we’re not using in the box they arrived in, and we’re storing the pin flags in Iris photo box storage containers.
Each of the Individual Map Sets costs $36.50 and includes an 18 x 24″ Continent Pin Map, 1 Foam Sheet (18 x 24 x .5″) with plastic corners, 4 – 12 x 18″ Control Maps (2 maps front-and-back to check Countries, Cities, Flags, Land & Water Forms), a set of colorful flag labels and national flags (countries-green, cities-red, landforms-yellow, islands-white, water-blue, geo. lines-gray, national flags-colorful), flag poles and flag bases, and 1/2″ & 3/4″ transparent Scotch tape. You can also download a free Teacher’s Guide along with corresponding questions/activities for each continent.
If you decide to make a purchase, use coupon code “maps” for 10% off of your order!
The Individual Map Sets are a cost-effective alternative to purchasing a complete student set in one fell swoop. In fact, it probably makes more sense in that you will likely only be studying one continent at a time. Just imagine… if you start in Kindergarten, you could spend an entire year on each continent, and with consistent practice, your students would likely have all the countries, capitals, and features memorized by the time they exit middle school. By spending a couple of days per month reviewing the maps they would have previously memorized, the world map would be stored in long-term memory. That’s good stuff.
Here’s something that is just plain wonderful, too. Pin-It Maps offers an incredible Free Teaching Materials section on their website where you can download maps of Antarctica and the North Pole, along with Teacher’s Guides for using pin maps, questions and activities for each continent, land and water form vocabulary/picture flashcards, and photo sorting cards for biomes and animals. All of these high-quality downloads are FREE!!!
The World & Continets Map Set Includes…
8 — 18 x 24″ Pin Maps (World, North America, South America, Central America/ Caribbean, Europe, Asia, Africa, and Australia/ Oceania)
2 — Foam Sheets (18 x 24 x .5″) with plastic corners
30 — 12 x 18″ Control Maps
1 — set of 1147 flag labels and national flags
Flag poles and flag bases
1/2″ Transparent Scotch tape for colored flag labels
3/4″ Transparent Scotch tape for national flags
*Storage containers and straight pins must be purchased separately
If you decide to make a purchase, be sure to use coupon code “MAPS” for 10% off of your entire order!
Disclosure: I received a Complete Student Map Set from Pin-It Maps in exchange for an honest review. Affiliate links are included in this post. Please click here for additional details.