Before kids memorize country names on a map, these fun geography activities will peak their curiosity about the world, bringing geography lessons to life.
From snow days, to sick days, to teacher in-service days, school closures aren’t an if, they’re a when. The next time you find your kids home from school, set your sights on a global adventure. One where kids can learn about the world around them through museum visits, neighborhood outings, and inspiring indoor activities. Remember to get out your map (https://wholewideworldtoys.com/shop/books/the-world-happy-map/) and mark your exploration destinations before setting out (or staying in).
MUSEUM VISITS (in-person or virtual) are a great place to start. Whether you hit the local art museum, science museum, or history museum, you’ll find plenty of global connections housed within. Work your visit one of two ways.
Choose a continent and then find all the paintings, inventions, artifacts, and more that can be traced back there during your visit. Or…
Catalog your favorite museum finds and map where the artist, inventor, historical figure, or artifact came from. The mummies you found on the first floor can be traced back to Egypt, and the woolly mammoth you spied on the next level up might be traced back to Asia, North America, or Europe. Your favorite Picasso painting can be traced back to Spain and the dinosaur bones that were assembled in the great hall could come from any number of places. What a varied and colorful map you’ll have when you’re done!
Visit a Florist
Although the FLORIST might not be first on your list when you think of global connections, heading to a flower shop (or even the floral department at your local grocery store) is an easy spot to spy flowers grown around the world. See if your local florist has your favorite country’s national flower, and be sure to ask where your favorite flowers were grown while you’re there.
Discover Food Origins
Finding FOOD ORIGINS is another easy way to make connections globally while you explore locally. A trip to the grocery store to check stickers on produce is an easy starting point. Did your avocados come from Mexico? Was that bunch of bananas grown in Costa Rica? Did Chile’s farms grow your kiwis? Once you’ve scoured the fruits and vegetables to find out where they’re grown, be sure to hit the ethnic section of your grocery store to find fun foods from around the world. A package of Pocky from Japan always hits the spot.
Children’s librarians are a special set of people. Hit up your local librarian for GLOBAL STORY RECOMMENDATIONS when you’ve got a day off from school. Folk tales from other cultures are always fun to read, as are non-fiction books about people and places from other countries. Come home with a stack and take time to read and talk about the new things you’re learning together.
The Zoo by Continent
The thing about VISITING A ZOO is it’s usually organized by continent. That makes it easy to figure out where all the cool animals come from when you make the rounds. Take a trip to the zoo any time school is out to learn more about where you favorite animals come from and what you can do to make sure they’re surviving (and thriving) in the wild.
If you’re stuck inside on a day off from school, GLOBALLY-INSPIRED KIDS CRAFTS are an easy go-to. Make an Oware game from West Africa, a fan from China and a weaving project from Peru, to name a few. Most can be completed with materials you’ll likely have in your recycling bin. It couldn’t be easier!
Share Family Heritage
Being stuck inside doesn’t have to be boring. Use it as a chance to CONNECT KIDS TO THEIR CULTURAL HERITAGE by sharing interesting stories, meaningful traditions, and larger-than-life ancestors to make the past feel relevant and exciting. When you’ve got time on your hands, you can try one of these ideas to bring your family’s heritage to life:
Make a family tree: Whether you use construction paper, or a pre-printed illustrated tree, see how far back you can trace your roots. Remember to share stories as you go!
Put together a family photo album: Sure, everything is digital these days, but this is a great excuse to dig through old photo albums and slides, pulling out pictures of family members that go back a few generations. Do you notice any special or traditional clothing in pictures? Any special places or settings in them? Collect them in a photo album or make an artistic pic collage (in real life) you can hang on a wall.
Map out your heritage: Grab a map of the great big world and mark off the cities, regions and/or countries your ancestors hailed from. Are your ancestors from Galway? Singapore? Sao Paulo? Nigeria? Russia? Turkey? You might be surprised to see how many spots have brought you to where you are.
Cook traditional meals: Every family has their favorite recipes. Are any traditional meals from your ancestral lands? Discuss when and why this dish is a favorite for your family.
World Happy Map
All of these globally-focused activities are enhanced when you pair them with our WORLD HAPPY MAP (https://wholewideworldtoys.com/shop/books/the-world-happy-map/). Looking for more inspiring ways to use this map? Check out these suggestions (https://wholewideworldtoys.com/world-map-activities-curious-kids/) that will keep kids busy, learning, and engaged no matter what the day brings.
World Village Playsets
Pull out one of our WORLD VILLAGE PLAYSETS to continue your global exploration through imaginative play. Start with the World Village Playset China, where kids can dive into the colorful play mat and imagine they’re Joe or Emma, wandering the streets of a Chinese village.
Then jet over to Ireland to explore some more with World Village Playset Ireland. Here, your kids can walk Joe and Emma through the streets of an authentic seaside town in Ireland. Check out the music store over there, or O’Connor’s Pub, right next to the sweet shop on the shore. There are so many ways to play and imagine with these interactive sets!
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