Travel Diaries

Travel Diaries

The inspiration for these travel diaries that I’m doing with my kids right now are based on a few truisms in my personal life. I loath crafts.  LOATH them. If we have a craft scheduled into our day, I will put it off until last and then find a way to not have to do it.  To me they are not fun, they are stressful.  Crafts with kids are something akin to getting your teeth drilled at the dentist, except the dentist really isn’t that bad. Karen and I were talking about that the other day.  Do you know that if she has a craft scheduled to do with her kids she actually has to exert self control to make herself make them wait till their seat work is done?  They use the craft as a reward.  I know.  Crazy. Also, I realize that Karen and I have created a curriculum that … click to read more

Illustrated Fact Sheets

An illustrated fact sheet about Turkey. This method can be used to learn facts about anything, not just countries.

An illustrated fact sheet is a good way for kids to absorb and remember facts about a topic without the time commitment of writing an entire report.  Reports are good, but not every single thing you learn needs to be in one. To make an illustrated fact sheet the kids read books or look up information online about the topic and then draw pictures depicting the facts and write captions about each picture. The amount of writing will depend on the age of the students. This is an assignment that be completed in about an hour. Here is an illustrated fact sheet about the country of Turkey, which we’ve been learning about in geography. I made this one as an example so the kids would understand what I expected of their assignment.  After they made theirs we hole punched them and inserted the fact sheets into their notebooks right after the map … click to read more

Desert Camel Silhouette Art Project

This is a geography craft about the Arabian Peninsula.  Find the Arabian Peninsula on a World Map or Globe.  Watch a video about the Arabian Peninsula. We recommend Wild Arabia from the BBC. Library List You can also pick up some great books on deserts and on Arabia.        Exploration Then make this desert camel silhouette art project. Use a coffee filter, bowls with saturated yellow and orange water, and a dropper. Fill two small containers with 1/4 cup water each.  Add 6-8 drops of yellow food coloring to one container.  Add 4 drops of yellow and 4 drops of red to the other container to make orange. Let the kids drip colored water slowly onto the coffee filter using a dropper (or a paint brush) until it is completely covered with colored water. Let it dry. Glue to white paper. Then over the top glue a silhouette frame … click to read more

Readers’ Theater: A Chinese Tale of Seven Brothers

I was very privileged to go to China recently.  Our parents are living there for several years and teaching English at Nankai University in Tianjin, a city south of Beijing.  They have fallen in love with the people of China, and I treasured the bit of time I got to spend there.  China was a fascinating and beautiful place.  Every inch of it feels infused with history – the stories of centuries of Chinese who have lived, worked, celebrated, and often suffered there. I was most fascinated with the art, archaeology, and stories I learned while there.  I thought you might enjoy this old Chinese tale, written as a readers’ theater to perform as you learn about China.  It is the tale of seven brothers who must go up against the emperor.   Here is the printable PDF version for you. The Seven Chinese Brothers Narrator: Long, long ago, when Ch’in … click to read more

Country Fact Sheet

As we learn about places throughout the world I like my kids to keep little country fact sheets that detail what we find out.  It’s a place to record the information they are reading from our country studies all on one page. Typically I have them each choose a different country in the same region.  For example, my son may choose Italy, my daughter Germany, and my other daughter France.  Often I choose a country too – like Spain.  I get my little toddler’s help since he’s too young to work on his own, and we do ours together.  We search the internet or go to the library for books, then spend a few hours reading them, writing down fascinating facts, drawing maps and flags, and just satisfying our curiosity about our countries.  We fill out our country fact sheets and often fill the back sides of the page with … click to read more

Canada Printable Map

Canada has lots of forests, lots of grasslands, lots of rolling hills and lots and lots of north. But did you know Canada’s most southern point, Middle Island, Lake Erie, Ontario, is at the same latitude as northern California and the south of France? Canada Map Exploration If you didn’t, you need to do a Canada Map. And here are some things to label with the aid of a student atlas: each of the provinces and territories each of the provincial capitals the national capital, Ottawa Great Bear Lake Great Slave Lake Lake Athabaska Reindeer Lake Lake Winnipeg The Great Lakes Pacific Ocean Atlantic Ocean Hudson Bay Arctic Ocean Bay of Fundy Gulf of St. Lawrence Labrador Sea Beaufort Sea Vancouver Island Victoria Island Baffin Island Library List Finish up with some excellent books on Canada:     Additional Layers Even Canadians sometimes think their history is short and boring, … click to read more

Russian Dyed Easter Eggs

We’ll show you how to make Russian dyed Easter eggs with natural onion dyes. First you need 5-8 onions either yellow or red skinned. Peel off the skins and place them in a sauce pan.  You can chop up the onions, put them in zip lock bags, and freeze them to use later. Fill the pan about 1/3 full of water.  Place your raw eggs in the water with the onion skins. Make sure the water covers the eggs. Bring it all to a boil on your stove top.  Boil for ten minutes.  Remove from heat and allow to cool for a bit. Remove the eggs.  If you used yellow onion skins you’ll get a natural brownish yellow color.  If you used red skinned onions you’ll get a very deep purple color. Additional Layers Learn more about Russia with this Printable Russia Fact Book. What else could you use the … click to read more

Switzerland Printable Map and Country Study

We made this Switzerland Map for you to color, but first a little history. History of Switzerland In 1291 three of the Swiss cantons rebelled against the rule of the German Emperors of the Holy Roman Empire.  This little group of freedom lovers accomplished the unthinkable and became not only independent but free, self governing entities, loosely confederated with one another.  You can read more about this story in The Apple and the Arrow by Mary and Conrad Buff. It wasn’t until the Treaty of Westphalia in 1648 (the treaty that ended the religious wars of the Reformation, freed the Netherlands from Spain, and pretty much set the modern boundaries of western Europe) that Switzerland was recognized internationally as a free and independent state, though they had been defacto free for centuries by this time. In 1848, by which time many more cantons had joined the original three, the Swiss formed … click to read more

Bolivian Finger Puppets Craft

We made these Bolivian Finger Puppets from felt, feathers, buttons and hot glue. You just choose your color, cut a rectangle of felt, design your face and feathers and so on, then glue on all the parts.  Finally glue the puppet into a cylinder that will slip over your finger.  Tell a story with your puppets. Crafting brightly colored knit items is an old native tradition in Bolivia.  Real Bolivian Finger Puppets are made of alpaca wool most often. Bolivia Explorations First we found Bolivia on a map and read a few facts about Bolivia including these: Bolivia is located high in the Andes Mountains Bolivia is landlocked, but they have a navy that practices on Lake Titicaca Bolivians believe the head is a sacred part of the body so they always wear hats It’s not against the law in Bolivia to belong to whatever religion you want, but if … click to read more

Printable Map of Zambia

In this Exploration we’ll give some information about the country of Zambia and then give you a printable map of Zambia to color and label with the aid of a student atlas. Zambia is located in southern Africa between Angola and Mozambique.   Briefly, the history of Zambia is that the native people, the Khoisan, were overrun or perhaps merely integrated with the migrating Bantu speakers from the Congo region, further north sometime in the 1200’s AD.  There are no written records so this information is based on linguistic studies and oral histories, passed down through generations. From about 1888 the area became a British colony, beginning with a man named Cecil Rhodes.  Like most British colonies it began as a private business venture, but to secure peace conducive to business the British ended up using military force to subdue the country.  It was named Rhodesia, after the original founder of … click to read more