Low-Key Country Studies for Young Kids

by Amy on January 19, 2012

learning about countries with kids

When I ask the girls what history or geography topics they would like to learn more about, “other countries!” is always at the top of the list.

We explore one country at a time, focusing on the basics to give them a general “feel” for the country. Keeping my girls ages (seven and nine) and interests in mind, we usually end up focusing a lot on animals, food, and cultural celebrations.

Here is our basic approach to country-study, along with some of our favorite resources. I hope you’ll share your fave resources in the comments, too!

We look at maps.

We have the National Geographic Beginners World Atlas, which is geared toward ages 5-7 and has been a wonderful beginner resource for us. We’ll probably upgrade to the National Geographic World Atlas for Young Explorers soon, since the girls seem ready for more detailed information.

For printable maps, we often use National Geographic Xpeditions Atlas.

We learn basic facts.

How many people live there? What language(s) do they speak? What are the names of important cities or landmarks? In addition to our atlas, we use these sites for gathering interesting facts about our country:

We read books.

The library is our first stop for gathering-up some great reads about our chosen country. Not only do we look in the geography section of the kids’ nonfiction area, but we also check the computer for picture books and folktales that tie in. The girls love learning about animals, so we usually add some books about native animals or habitats to our pile.

At home, we have some general reference books as well (in addition to our atlas):

We watch videos.

We listen to music and language.

  • Pandora – We’ve been listening to Mariachi, Samba, Celtic, and many others. Try checking out the stations under the ‘World’ genre or using the search feature.
  • CDs from library (We always enjoy the Putumayo ones)
  • Say Hello to the World {Internet Public Library}

We cook and eat.

My girls are not super-adventurous eaters, so we keep it pretty simple with our country-inspired foods. Sometimes we just eat foods that are important crops of the country we are studying. Here are some sites I browse through if we want to cook and taste something new:

We do a project.

We usually do at least one project for our chosen country. It could be playing traditional games or sports, doing an art project, cooking a meal, etc. I try to limit myself to 30-minutes of internet surfing, then choose something that looks doable. There is SO much out there, I could browse and plan for hours – but that would defeat the purpose of keeping these country studies simple and low-key! :)

I sometimes browse through books at the library, too. I have found fun ideas in Global Art, The Kids Multicultural Art Book, and Math Games & Activities from Around the World.

How about you? Do your kids enjoy learning about other countries? What are your favorite activities or resources?

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