Monday, November 25, 2013

Our World, Part I: Where We Live

After our 50 States weeks we moved right into Discovering Our World. I wanted to give the boys a good understanding of the world, well, as best you can to a 3 and 1 year old. The world is a big place and there are SO many different aspects of it, how could I teach it to my boys? Heck, they have trouble with Tomorrow and Yesterday! Well, after a lot of thought, I decided to break it up into continents where we'd learn about different cultures, art, practices, foods, and whatever else we could find for that continent or part of the world.

To get them comfortable with how giant the world is, and all that it encompasses, I bought a shower curtain of the world. I figured it was large enough that they could see it better than just a poster sized map.

We spent a lot of time doing Map Play where we would talk about the different shapes of the continents, the idea of Pangea and how the world looked like a giant puzzle that all fits together. We talked about different geographic regions, bodies of water, mountain ranges, where it was cold and where it was warm, etc. I pointed out all of the continents and as we looked at this more and more, they got familiar enough with it where they could point out some continents and oceans. I also took stuff from shows they'd seen from Little Einsteins and showed them how or where those activities, icons and locations were actually from REAL places! As we expanded our learning, I got our Animal Almanacs, and National Geographic for Kids and let them explore through pictures. I would point out where these things were and how we were similar or different.

Later, once they had a better understanding of what the world was, I had them do a project where they could figure out how they fit in the world.

I've seen similar projects to this one on Pinterest and other teaching sites, but for our purposes, I chose to write it by hand. I drew each boy, our house, our city, our state, our country, our continent and Earth. They were to color them and then string them up with yarn so we had a nice mobile we could display as we learned about the different parts of the world. I was really proud of Henrik when he could identify North America and the United States from my drawings, and I was even more proud that he colored in the lines! For a kid who hates to color, he did a fantastic job! 

Once it was complete, we would study it and even compare it to our shower curtain and try to figure out how different parts of North America were different from one another. 

There are so many different things to teach, but when you are dealing with small children, you have to figure out what relates to them. With my kids, we could focus on shapes of countries and continents, we could talk about colder near the top and bottom and warm in the middle, and we could talk about animals that lived in different places. We could count oceans, continents and countries... it just depends on the age of the child and where they are at in their understanding of something that is so much larger than they are. For the next few weeks we will be learning about different continents, languages, cultures, geography and more, but don't be afraid to have it take a while, recaps and going over old material is the best way to make sure your child will actually remember it. 

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