Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Our World, Part II: North America

Because I decided to break up our lesson into continents, and we just finished "Our 50 States Week", I figured we would start with North America first. It just made more sense to start with what they knew the most.

Veterans Day- United States:

To start this lesson, we went to our local Veterans Day parade, this lesson fell perfectly over the long weekend, so we had a lot of time to talk about service, the military and what it means to have a holiday to honor all of these people.

I think the boys thought that the parade was a lot of fun, but to them, they see people in uniform daily, so actually grasping the idea of honoring what these people do on a daily basis was hard to understand. I don't think it was until they saw the World War II Veterans that Henrik started to figure out that the military was larger than his street where all the daddies come home around 5 PM. Later that night, Henrik asked why people had given his dad cards at the parade. It was then we talked to them about service and how soldiers and airmen help protect all of the people in the world.

Later, we made yellow ribbons to honor and remember those soldiers who were not with their families. We talked about how sometimes soldiers and airman have to go away to keep us safe, fly planes, or even fight in a war. Henrik got a little worried about that, he didn't want his dad to "fight bad guys" but we told him that Daddy would always do whatever he had to to keep him and his brother safe. That made Henrik more comfortable. We will see what actually happens when Eric does get deployed. We also talked about how these ribbons usually go on trees and are just a visual reminder that there are people who are not with their family and that some people die when they are at war and these ribbons just make us pay attention to how important their life is. 

I also had the boys make poppies. I showed them pictures of poppy fields and pictures of poppies in cemeteries. I told the boys about Remembrance Day and how a poppy is a symbol. Henrik chimed in that he knew what symbols were, like on road signs! They thought that this was a fun project to do and I got some pretty abstract art in the process!

Canada- North America:

Each day at 5:00 PM, because we live on an Air Force Base, the National Anthem plays. Our boys quickly drop what they are doing and stand still (for a few minutes) and either salute or put their hands on their hearts. We were teaching them about how each country has a song that they play to celebrate their country, and that Canada had one too! Eric sang it for them as we watched and listened to the song. They were pretty impressed that Eric knew all the words!

After that, we had the boys make Canadian flags. We showed them the American flags that they had made earlier and explained that every country had a flag too! They actually thought it was pretty cool that all countries had similarities!

I actually like how these turned out, but Eric thinks that the bloody hand print was a bad idea. I liked it because it was a way for us to become the art, and still kind of have it look like a maple leaf. Oh well. 

The next day we went outside and started talking about Canada's First People. I showed them pictures of different tribes, where they lived and how they lived. We focused on the Inuksuk rock sculptures made by the Inuit People. In this lesson, we talked about how these statues, symbols and/or memorials were incredibly difficult to build, especially without construction vehicles! We also talked about some of their lifestyles, their traditions and their customs, how this group of people lived all over North America, and some still live in Alaska, so we included our Native Americans in this section too. Then we built our own sculptures! 

This was an awesome project! The boys probably did this longer than any other project we've done. They practiced building towers, finding flat and smooth rocks, they knocked them over and rebuilt, and really just had fun collecting all of these rocks! We still have statues standing on our porch!

To complete our Canada lesson, we of course had to have a hockey game! This was the perfect way to end our lesson, and was a great way for our whole family to get active and involved in learning. We did a brief history of hockey, and talked about some of the hockey greats, and why they even play hockey in Canada and other parts of the world.

Our boys had so much fun and loved being the Falcons (Air Force Academy hockey players like their Dad).

Mexico- North America:

For Mexico, we had a lot of fun too! The boys were surprised when I spoke to them in Spanish most of the day, and while they didn't really understand what I was saying, it was fun for them to experience a different language. Henrik, particularly thought it was really cool that people spoke different "words" in different parts of the world. He actually was pretty good at repeating it too! It was fun to play hopscotch using Spanish numbers, watching Diego (I know), and playing at the grocery store as they learned new worlds for the groceries we normally buy. Another fun site is at Nick Jr. World Wide. We don't usually watch Nick Jr., But they do a pretty good job at celebrating different parts of the world in a relatable way for kids.

We also read a lot of books, I have some that are in Spanish and I picked up some more from the Library too, but our favorite was Zoo Day ¡Ole! by Phyllis Gershator! If you haven't read it yet, it's a great book for learning how to count to 10 in Spanish as the children in the story and their Abuela travel to the zoo.

We did two fun projects when we learned about Mexico, first, we made Skull Art as we learned more about the Aztecs. The idea of first peoples was easier this time around, and the boys had a great time decorating "bones". I tried to explain that the reason we were making skulls was because it honors life and death and those who have passed, but it was a little hard to grasp. Henrik did understand the idea of a shrine and having a spot where we remember people we love, I thought that was a good enough start.

Henrik even decided to make me! I showed them a lot of pictures of skull art before they were allowed to get started, and they were impressed with all of the colors that were used. So we tried to make "rainbow skulls" :)

Later we made God's Eye art. I tried to explain the importance, but ended up focusing more on the weaving process that a lot of Mexico's people participate in. This was actually really fun for them! To do this project, I just glued two Popsicle sticks together and gave the boys pipe cleaners. They could "weave" over and over and make different patterns. It's also mess free!

That night we had a Mexican Fiesta where we made tacos together and danced to traditional music. It was a great way to celebrate with our boys, and whenever they can get hands on with us in the kitchen, they get really excited! Celebrating with a fiesta on our last night of North America was something that hopefully they will remember.

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