Tea Time with Annie Kate Rotating Header Image

High School Geography Course Outline


For the first time in my life, I’m writing up a proper course outline!  Mind you, it is already half after the fact, since much of the course is completed.  I’m using The High School Handbook, about which I posted earlier, to help me design and document the course.  Hopefully you will be able to glean something from this process for your family’s schooling, even if it is only that you will never design your own course! J 


Ontario government schools require one credit of Canadian geography in high school.  In keeping with our philosophy of meeting or exceeding their standards, we do so in our home school as well.  


Course Description

This course will include a study of all aspects of Canadian geography as presented in Contact Canada.  Canadian maps will be studied and learned in detail.  A reading and video list, projects, and field trips will be used to explore some of the material in greater detail and to raise the learning level.  The main course work will be completed in one school year, but the readings, field trips, and projects may span several years.


Course Goals:

-to master the basics of Canadian physical geography

-to be exposed to most common topics in Canadian geography

-to develop lasting interests in one or more aspects of Canadian geography

-to study, in depth, various topics of interest


Course Breakdown:                                          approximate time involved

Contact Canada and Study Guide              (80 hours)

Canada map work                                   (15 hours)

Reading and video list                             (15 hours)

Projects and field trip reports                  (30 hours)

Total                                                      (140 hours)


Note that in the government schools here, one credit course must have a minimum of 110 hours scheduled.  Since we expect some of the readings and projects to be used for more than one course, scheduling slightly more time seems reasonable.




–Main text:  Contact Canada, a popular government school geography text. (See here also.)  It covers the following topics

Unit 1: You and Canada
                1. Your Space 2. Beyond Your Space
Unit 2: Physical Diversity

                3. Landforms 4. Climate 5. Ecozones
Unit 3: Resource Canada

6. Agriculture 7. Water 8. Fishing 9. Forestry 10. Mining 11. Energy
Unit 4: Cultural Diversity
                12. Population Challenges 13. A Mosaic of People 14. Cultural Change
Unit 5: Urban Canada

15. Urban Growth 16. Urban Patterns 17. Urban Life 18. Working Canada

                19. Connecting Canada
Unit 6: World Contact
                20. Trade Connections 21.
International Connections


Comments:  We bought the Contact Canada, Second Edition second hand, as we do many other books.  Unfortunately, many of the statistics are very out of date (there are MANY statistics), and that frustrates my children.  There is a newer version available, as shown on the above links.  So be careful when you buy second-hand geography textbooks; they do go out of date.   


The Home Works Guide to Contact Canada, a Christian study guide.   This emphasizes the content-mastery approach to geography rather than the process-approach which the text uses, but closely follows the text material. Our teens studied the text and answered the study guide questions for the bulk of the course.  It also includes project and reading suggestions.


–There is almost no map work in the Contact Canada course.  Although, of course, our teens know the basics of Canadian geography, it’s good to know a few more cities, rivers, landforms, mining locations, industries, etc.  We plan to use an atlas of Canada and the maps from the middle school program Province to Province to reinforce those details.  


Reading list (fiction or nonfiction):

At least one approved book for each region mentioned below.



Ontario:  Backwoods of Canada by Catherine Parr Traill  and at least one more




West coast:



Project list


-Main project:  Study local examples of each of the elements of Contact Canada.  This will involve several field trips, and will give a more complete understanding of both our area and the whole of Canada.   


Choose one or more of the following projects and share with the rest of the family in a suitable way; some project suggestions are given in The Home Works Study Guide.


-an introduction to the fundamentals of geography as presented in Ch 1-5 of Geography for Christian Schools (required if this will be the student’s only high school geography course — about 10 hours).

-weather (statistics, effects of, comparisons, etc) or weather events (the 1998 eastern Ontario/ western Quebec ice storm, the Red River flood, or even just winter, etc)

-a cross-country hands-on project such as cooking through Canada, salt dough maps, following explorer’s pathways, etc

-study of soil and or natural vegetation region or regions

-some aspect of agriculture, forestry, mining, water, energy, transportation, and/or communication, whether local or across the country

-an understanding of demographics in relation to immigration, abortion, euthanasia, economics, etc

-discussion of cities, growth, city planning

-study of trade and/or international relations

-any other relevant project which must first be approved, e.g. not an unaccompanied car trip across Canada at age 17 J


Of course, the library is a major source of information.  When we have a Canadian geography year for everyone, dozens of books about Canada pass though our living room.  These books are not required reading, but the children pick them up and enjoy them at their leisure. They make the rest of the learning more relevant and fun and allow us to build relationships with our country even though we cannot travel through it.  Our children have especially enjoyed and learned from Wow Canada, a light hearted book about a family’s cross-country vacation. We also enjoy the lovely book, Prairie AlphabetIn fact, when my friend sent it to me years ago as an unexpected gift to an exiled prairie girl, tears filled my eyes and shivers of emotion crawled up my spine as I turned the pages.  We will also be looking at Mountain Alphabet, and Seaside Alphabet  again this month.  These wonderful books about Canada would, I think, also be useful in experiencing and understanding the relevant areas of the northern US.  Now that we have a DVD player, we also want to start enjoying travel videos from the library.


We also have many gorgeous coffee table books about Canada, all bought for a few dollars at garage sales and thrift stores.


Although only a few of you are from Canada, I hope that this peek into our geography course has given you a “fly on the wall” picture of how we are doing it.  This is not the only way; it is not the right way; but it offered to you as something you may wish to take an idea or two out of…or as something you may wish to suggest improvements to.  Thank you!


On Tuesday I plan to tell you about our simple and safe home-made bug spray.  See you then for Tea Time With Annie Kate!  And maybe, if there’s time on Saturday, I’ll tell you about our latest nature walk.


Have a wonderful weekend. 


  1. 2boysmom says:

    I love planning and organizing! I used Barb Shelton's Sr. High Form – u – la book. That book is crazy but very informative. I still refer back to it when I need to. I think the HighSchool Handbook is a little more calm. If you've read Barb's book then you know what I mean.

    Have a great weekend!

  2. proverbsmama says:

    That is very impressive!

  3. LarabaK says:

    I always enjoy reading your posts and this was no exception.

    I like the fact that your course appeals to different personalities. I always enjoy reading fictional books about a region or people, and you've got some books in there that aren't "stright facts". I know some people like statistics and poring over them.

    Your children will probably end up with a substantially better picture of their country than most of their fellow citizens. That would at least be true if I set up a similar course for the USA. Someday, I probably will.

  4. solidrock says:

    Excelent outline and course study! You did a fabulous job. I too buy or get for free the second hand editions. You are right it is frustrating! However it does teach our kids to find correct information. I am thankful they can clarify most of it on a quick google search. Having one half way through his college career I have learned that they use the internet a lot in college. Reports are almost entirely done on the net…its seems books are optional. I still require 3 book souces for my kids reports though.

  5. AnnieKate says:

    Thank you all for your positive comments! Now I feel even more motivated to organize our other courses in a similar way! (happy smile)


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *