Tag Archives: maps

Around the World

This summer, we have a lot of friends traveling all over the world. My niece and her husband came back last month from Rwanda, our neighbor just returned from a trip to Turkey, another friend is on her way to Australia to finish school, and another niece is set to go as a missionary to Uganda for a year. We also have friends who are long-term missionaries in Paraguay. What amazing adventures! Not only do these trips make the world seem much smaller, but they offer great opportunities for learning!

When someone we know travels to another country, it provides a more personal reason to study that country. We can study the culture, language, people, cities, government, religion, landscape, flora and fauna, and cuisine of a particular nation with our friends and family in mind. We’ll discover what they’ll see and experience while they are there.

But even better, we’ll also be able to learn more than we ever would from books or online. We’ll be able to take what we’ve learned from reading and ask them about it. They’ll be able to give us details that would be hard to find in a typical report. For example, we learned that many Australians are very laid back, and use the phrase “No worries!” quite often, even in situations when the average American would be stressing out.

If you have a friend of family member who will be traveling soon, try creating your own unit study about the country they will be visiting. Start off with basic maps and facts about the country. Then tap into your friend’s experiences. If your friend has  a blog or Facebook page, visit it often with your children to see where he is and what’s he’s doing.  Find the cities where he’s been and have the kids mark them on a map. If he posts photos, include those in their notebooks as well.  If he’s staying a while, have them write letters, and add any they receive in return.

So even if you’re not traveling around the world this summer — no worries! Your children will have a great learning experience anyway!


Photo by xandert

The Story of the World

One of my favorite history curriculums for elementary students is The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer. Consisting of four volumes in all, this series is designed so students complete one volume per year. A great way for teaching history to multiple grade levels, this series can even be used with middle school students.

Volume 1: The Ancients covers from 5000 B.C. to 400 A.D.; Volume 2: The Middle Ages covers from 400  to 1600; Volume 3: Early Modern Times covers from 1600 – 1850; and Volume 4: The Modern Age covers from 1850 – 1994. Each book discusses what was happening around the world during a particular time period, so students have a better understanding of major events and how they affected various nations. For example, students learn that Napoleon’s financial troubles led him to sell the Louisiana territory to the United States, which in turn allowed westward expansion to continue. I have to smile when my fourth grader can tell me the connection between Napoleon and Thomas Jefferson!

What makes this such an enjoyable series for both the parent and child is the way in which it is written. Susan Bauer presents history as a story, a narrative meant to be read aloud to the students by a parent or teacher. It’s fun to read and fun to listen to. Sometimes my older children and I take turns reading a page, which gives them extra reading practice too.  The books are also available on CD, and I know several moms who use driving time as history time with this resource.

Of course, what makes history even more memorable are hands-on activities, and this curriculum provides these as well. Activity books are available for each of the volumes. These include map work, crafts, coloring pages, and reading lists. Tests for each volume can also be purchased – everything you’d need to teach and enjoy history!