What fun to study the USA with Crafty Classroom. We were so excited to download our USA Activity Bundle Pack. The check-out and process of downloading was so easy. The USA Activity Bundle Pack includes 3 e-books: USA State by State Activity Notebook, USA State Bird Art Cards, and USA 50 State Mazes.
As soon as we downloaded our USA Activity Bundle Pack, we immediately got to work printing the first pages we wanted to use. We started with our home state and the states closest to us: Florida, Alabama, and Georgia. We downloaded their pages from the USA State by State Activity Notebook. We also printed the mazes from each of those states from USA 50 State Mazes. Finally, we printed mockingbird page from the USA State Bird Art Cards e-book.
This is how we put it all together in a geography lesson. We started with a large USA map and found all three states. We found the capitals: Tallahassee, Montgomery, and Alabama. We found rivers and lakes, cities we'd heard of and cities we hadn't. We spent a lot time exploring the large map.
Next, we read a book on Florida from the library and filled our our Florida notebook page and completed the map. We decided to make our mockingbird (Florida state bird) art card next, coloring in our bird with colored pencils. We decided to make a list of all the places we had visited in Florida and another list of all the places we wanted to visit in Florida. Then we made a citrus fruit salad with Florida grapefruit, oranges, and tangelos. We followed the same format for Georgia (peach cobbler) and Alabama (banana pudding).
I looked back on all our family vacations since we were married in 1984 and evaluated them with the peaceful quotient. Some have been so peaceful and refreshing. While others--well, let's just not go there.
Interestingly, it doesn't seem that busyness is a factor. Last year we went on a tour of Italy and every day was jam-packed with activities. We fell into bed each night exhausted. However, we laughed, we enjoyed one another, we were kind to each other, and everyone agreed it was a refreshing time.
As I pondered what makes a vacation peaceful, I came up with some factors that surprised me. In peaceful family vacations, we all had similar expectations and shared common goals. There might have been surprises (like arriving at a cabin where every single door was locked), but for the most part, we were all on the same page and everyone felt an ownership of the trip. Mike and I weren't just dragging the kids along.
Over the years, we've stayed with family, cabined in the mountains, condoed on the beach, toured a country where we didn't speak the language, and done the Disney thing. Some of those trips have been spent swimming in the hotel pool, playing games, or walking along the beach. Others have been spent at museums, art galleries, and cathedrals. Yet each different kind of vacation has the potential to be peaceful or not-so-peaceful
Here's what has helped create a peaceful vacation.
Victoria lives in London with her Mum and Dad. Her Mum is Brazilian. Victoria goes to Brazil with her Mom to visit her family.
Mum and Victoria fly into San Paulo and travel to the Parana State where all Mum's relatives live.
Victoria travels from place to place meeting cousins, grandparents, aunts, uncles, a great-grandmother, and old friends of her Mum. There is great variety in the places she visits from a coffee farm to Itu where everything is REALLY BIG! Victoria sees micro monkeys, parakeets, fishing boats, churches, capybara (giant guinea pigs), casava flour, fruit trees, flowers, and watermelon juice.
The book uses bright, cheery photographs to illustrate Victoria's story of visiting her family in Brazil. I love the photos. They are amazing! They give a realistic picture to readers of family life in Brazil, but they also appeal to children with the bright colors, children, family love, and cute little animals. It really is like looking at someone's scrapbook.
I love to use picture books to teach geography to little ones. Victoria goes to Brazil would be enjoyed by children from ages 4 to 8, but it would also be a fun family read to kick off your geography studies in South America. Children will be introduced to a specific region in Brazil and you can see where it is on the map page. In addition, they will learn about industries, animals, plants, landforms, food, and culture.
I have been using Google Maps quite a bit recently as two of my daughters were house hunting. Each of the MLS listings had a Google Map that allowed me to see where it was located.
I would look at the other houses on the street and often switch to Google Earth to see it in a photograph.
Soon I would find myself on nearby streets exploring and discovering streets, houses, and neighborhoods I never knew existed.
It got me thinking.
I realized that Google Maps would be a great way to explore the neighborhood and the world.
Here are some ideas to get you started and I'm sure you can come up with many more.
Explore Your Neighborhood
After exploring other neighborhoods, I realized what fun it would be to explore our own neighborhood. You simply type in your address to locate your house.
It's so funny to see your house on Google Earth. One time we had left some toys in the yard and could see them in the photo.
Once you see your home, you simply expand outward, exploring your street, streets nearby, and soon you will discover streets, stores, and large homes you never knew existed. This is super fun for the adventurous child. Now, of course, when you are finished, you have to get in the car and go see things in person.
We found a beautiful street that looked like a dirt driveway from the main road, but it was dotted with lovely old historic homes. We had so much fun seeing them and imaging who lived in them now and who had lived in them long ago.
Visit Dream Vacation Cities
Pike's Peak is one tall mountain!
My daughter Julianna was taking a semester off work to attend Ellerslie, a Bible college out in Colorado. I decided to fly out with her a few days early so we could see a little of Colorado.
"Let's go to Pike's Peak!" she suggested.
"Hiking?" I asked, shuddering inside. People do hike up and down Pike's Peak, you know.
"No, not hiking," she laughed. "They have a little railroad."
Little railroad, as in tiny railroad, tiny tracks, and big tall mountain?
I was nervous, so I went online to research and discovered:
In Geography Co-op this year, I wanted the children to make beautiful maps of each continent so that they would look nice enough to hang on the wall.
"Well, I better die to that dream," I told myself.
I delegated the mapping portion of geography co-op to my friend Pattie.
Pattie took my instructions to heart and in order to make the beautiful maps happen, she started a contest, paying the winner in each age group a dollar.
Hey, a little free-market competition couldn't hurt.
The maps these children produced were gorgeous. Now, I don't know if they still would have been without the competition, but I was blown away!
Why does mapping matter anyway?
Benefits of Mapping
We kicked off our Homeschool Geography Co-op with a Plane Ride because our goal is to Travel Around The World through reading, crafts, mapping, and hands-on learning fun this year. Did I mention food and feasting?
This month, we were studying Europe, so we had another Geography Feast using Travel God's World Cookbook.
Each family made a dish from a country in Europe.
I made EZ Paella from Spain. Pattie made Swedish Cabbage Pudding (it also has ground beef and potatoes, too), Molly made Bratwurst and Sauerkraut from Germany, and Leanne made Fruit Crumble from England.
We are studying Africa this month in our homeschool geography co-op, so we kicked the month off with a feast from Africa.
We each chose a dish from a different African country and had a blast trying some very different foods.
"What are you doing?" my daughter Jenny Rose asked me as I stirred a large glob of peanut butter into a pan of soup stock and half-n-half.
I laughed. "I'm making peanut butter soup."
She scrunched up her nose and made a face.
"Do you want to try some?"
"Um, um, I'm not sure," she admitted.
Along with the peanut butter soup from South Sudan, I made Bobotie from South Africa.
What is Bobotie? Well, it's almost like a meatloaf with almonds, dried apricots, and raisins in it. Very unique, yet delicious.
In fact, most of the food we ate was unusual for us. The combinations were unique. It was an adventure!
Jeff, his sister, and their friends head to Nepal to get some footage from the cold mountainous Asian country. After a break-in at their host's apartment, the kids become involved in a dangerous journey along the cold Himalayan trails to rescue a child from being sold into slavery. Yes, that does happen in other nations.
Along the way, the teens share their faith while enduring exhaustion, sickness, injury, bitter cold, and being chased by some scary guys. You will love this adventure!
And if you are studying geography, your children will learn something about Asia in general and Nepal in particular, as well Christianity in Nepal. We loved this book!
Trying to keep up with my children's appetite for books and looking for some historical fiction set in Asia while we were studying geography led me to the Reel Kids Adventure series by Dave Gustaveson, published by YMAM Publishing.
Last week, we kicked off our brand new year of homeschool co-op.
This year we are studying Geography, among other things. We decided to kick off the first meeting (where we pass out books and meet with teachers) with a plane trip to Heathrow, Tel Aviv, and back to MCO, or Orlando's airport.
We wanted the children to get a sense of Traveling the Whole World this year so we decided to make it really fun!
Of course, taking a plane trip overseas means passports and boarding passes. And to get a passport, you have to apply for one and get your picture taken.
Okay, it was a lot of work--but everyone had a blast. The kids brought their application form to the Custom's agent and received a passport and boarding passes (yes, I know it's a little bit different than the real world).
Passports & Plane Rides
The very best way to explore the world would be to travel. Plane trips, boat trips, train rides, and long walks.
God has made such an amazing world and there is so much to learn about it! I love studying geography! I would love to travel around the world to learn everything there is to learn.
Years ago, Laura and I had a geography co-op that we kicked off with a plane ride complete with passports and boarding passes.
It was so fun that we decided to do it again this year since we are studying geography again..
I talked to my husband Mike and our friend Sam. Both agreed to help. Sam got super-creative and this was the best plane ride ever!
We decided to have it in our church sanctuary because it was easy to move the stackable chairs around and set up dividers.
Would you like to know how we did it?
In our home, our children’s state history studies are ongoing. Though some of my children have devoted an entire year to Florida history, most of them have learned about our Sunshine State bit by bit.
Each of my children have a Florida notebook that they start in kindergarten and add to every year afterward.
This notebook is divided up into sections including:
Simple Learning Projects