To learn more about Venezuela, start with a book about the country from your local library. See if they have a travel movie as well. My older kids read the books on their own, but for the younger ones, I read the book, then look through the pictures with them, explaining as I go. I usually ad lib and give my philosophy as I go along, explaining additional things I know or believe about the historical background, political system, and famous people from the country. Today, when I was doing this for Venezuela my older boys were listening in as well. They enjoy hearing the extra details.
After you have a bit of background information label and color a Venezuela Map. Label the largest cities, the seas, and the biggest rivers. See if you can find and draw on Lake Maracaibo and Angel Falls.
The name Venezuela means “Little Venice.” It likely got that name because of its’ palafitos, or stilt villages that are built right on the water like the buildings of Venice, Italy.
Then for dinner have some Venezuelan food. Try arepas, a Venezuelan bread, topped with beef chili and some tropical fruit, like papaya, plantains, and guava, on the side.
- 3 c. masa harina (corn flour, found in the Mexican food section of the grocery store)
- 3 c. water
- 1/2 t. salt
- Measure the masa into a mixing bowl, throw in the salt, and stir in the water.
- Then form the dough into a ball and press flat between your palms, about 3/4 of an inch thick. These are much fatter than tortillas, but made of the same ingredients.
- Fry the arapas on a skillet, turning to brown on both sides, then place on a baking sheet and bake in a 350 deg F oven for 20 min.
Top the arepas with anything from fish to shredded beef to fruit and cream.
- Venezuela has a republican form of government, with a constitution and divided powers of government, but it continually experiences upheaval in the form of rebellions and military takeovers. Discuss with your children why some governments are more stable than others. What does it take for a Republic to remain under the rule of law and not degenerate into a totalitarian state?
- Oil is by far the most important part of the Venezuelan economy. Venezuela is a member of OPEC. Find out more about OPEC and how they affect the world economy.
- Venezuela is very near the equator. Learn more about tropical climates and ecosystems. what are some unique animals and plants that live there?
- Find out more about Venezuela’s history. Briefly, it was first discovered by Christopher Columbus, held by Spain for three hundred years, liberated finally by Simon Bolivar, and since then has experienced one military coup after another.
- Very few of the original native peoples remain in Venezuela. They were killed by the Spanish through hard labor and disease. The three main original tribes were the Caribs, who lived on the islands just off shore in the Caribbean, the Arawaks, who inhabited coastal areas, and the Chibchas, who lived in the valleys of the Andes Mountains. Find more about these native groups.