Helping children learn about the world around them is as easy as taking them on outings in your local city or town. You can hit museums, visit the local coffee shop or bookstore, explore your city zoo, chat with an older friend or relative, or attend local events. Don’t discredit the invaluable resources you have right in your own backyard. Children can learn so much about the world simply by going through their every day activities.
That said, sometimes our children show interest in other places and other countries and while it would be lovely to be able to hop on a plane and fly internationally to try real Thai food, this may not be a reality for many of us.
The best time for learning is when our curiosity is piqued and when that happens with children, it’s a good idea to have a few easy-to-use resources on hand.
Today, I want to share with you our favorite resources for learning about the world around us, and a bit about how we use them.
Top Secret Agent Adventures from Highlights Magazine
Erasable map of The United States of America
Top Secret Agent Adventures
First of all, we love the classic Highlights Magazine, so when we got a call about Top Secret Agent Adventures, I jumped right on it. This series covers a new country about every four weeks. Your child receives a key chain ring to collect key chains from each country, a world map, a book for each country, plus a puzzle book and a secret mission to locate a precious stolen item from each country. Your child plays the secret agent who must solves various puzzles in order to solve the mystery. This series is perfect for ages 7-12 and covers many things from famous landmarks, to each country’s economy and natural resources, to recreation. Our daughter is seven and really looks forward to each package she receives.
** Additions we enjoy: We like to locate the capitol of each country and then research to find out how many miles away each capitol is from where we live. On a wall in our library, we have a running list and as we learn about new countries, she compares distances. We also map each country on the world map and encourage our daughter to consider the best way to travel from where we live to the new country: ie. Which direction would be fastest? Which method of transportation? You can adjust questions to whatever suits your child
Erasable map of The United States of America
We use an erasable map that was provided with the Reading with History program from Bookshark, but you could easily purchase a different map like this one. We use this map often when learning about so many things and so we keep it hanging up on the wall. When we traveled to Las Vegas last year, we used it to map out the states we’d be driving through on the way back home. When she played The Oregon Trail on the computer, we researched where each location was and then mapped it on the map. If we watch something and she asks where a certain state is, we show her on the map. We literally use this map several times a week. It’s a fabulous resource that I know we’ll use throughout her education here at home.
The inflatable globe has been used for fun activities such as figuring out the percentage of earth that is covered with water, to understanding the difference between how the earth is represented on a flat map compared to the reality, which is modeled by the globe. We’ve used it to learn about the continents as well. I cut pieces of paper and wrote each of the continents on them, taped the back so they could easily be used to label the continents. We turned this into a game using a timer and a race with her dad on who could go fastest. The same could be done with the earth’s oceans. The possibilities are endless, really. We use this globe often, so we keep it inflated and hanging up in the corner near the maps.
Make a graph with one side labeled Water and the other side labeled Land.
Take turns tossing the globe to each other.
If the tip of the index finger touches water, make a tally mark under water. If the tip of the index finger touches land, make a tally mark under land. Toss a total of 20 times.
More times than not, the result will be very close to the reality of ~3/4 water to land. Keep trying and see if your results remain similar and then research to find the reality online.
These are just a few of the things we’ve been enjoying using to learn more about the world around us. It doesn’t take a lot of stuff to learn. A few well-chosen items and you’re all set.