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How I Learned Geographyby Uri Shulevitz
Reading Group Guide
SOCIAL STUDIES: Mapping
Mapping a Course
Two of Uri Shulevitzs books include maps that are essential to the understanding of the story. Begin by sharing classroom maps, including those found in atlases. After students have studied several maps, brainstorm the definition of a map (a “picture” or graphic representation of some or all of the earths surface, including bodies of water, using lines, symbols, color, and labels, and drawn to scale as one might see them from above) and its purpose, guiding students in their understanding.
Read How I Learned Geography and The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela aloud to your students. Discuss the similarities and differences in the map Shulevitz paints in each book, recording responses on a Venn diagram. Be sure to notice the geographic area pictured in each book as well as the labels, colors, and symbols each map employs.
Ask students to notice the ways in which the maps are similar. Then ask students to discuss why the maps are different. What purpose do the maps serve in each story?
Extension Activity: Using a document camera, project the image of one of the maps from How I Learned Geography onto a white board. Then, challenge students, using atlases or flat maps as references, to label each country pictured on the map.
A Map Makes the Adventure
As the narrator of How I Learned Geography studies the map his father hangs on the wall, he becomes fascinated by the places represented there and is transported to many imagined places. Challenge students to attach each of these imagined places to at least one place on the map pictured in the book. Note that the final illustration spread will help students to locate some of these places on a map of Asia:
LANGUAGE ARTS: Writing Literacy
Whats in a Name?
The young narrator in How I Learned Geography falls in love with the exotic sounding names on the map his father brings home, and he makes a little rhyme out of them. Supply your students with a map or atlas of the area of the world, country, or state you are studying, and ask them to choose their favorite sounding place names from the list. Record these on the board or chart paper. Next,
challenge them to return to the map and find at least two pairs of names that rhyme, as Uri Shulevitz did. Then help them to create a four line place name rhyme in an aa-bb rhyming pattern. [Note: Introduce or revisit the concept of stressed and unstressed syllables that create the rhythm in poetry; revise your poem to ensure that it that scans properly.]
Sailing on the Wings of Imagination
In both How I Learned Geography and When I Wore My Sailor Suit Uri Shulevitz uses imagination as the vehicle of travel. Begin by reading both stories and asking students to discuss what the two books have in common. Once they have discovered that the main character/narrator in each book travels far away in his imagination, one by flying and one by sailing, invite students to answer these
When each student has determined the answers to the three questions, invite them to write about and illustrate their imagined journey using either the listing technique Shulevitz uses in How I Learned Geography or the narrative format he uses in When I Wore My Sailor Suit. [Note: For the youngest students, ask them to draw the pictures and then help them to scribe their text at the bottom of the
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