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World explorers Unit Study

Home educators often encompass a variety of subjects under one theme in unit studies. While this unit study is based around social studies, it also includes, art, physical education, music, reading, writing, even mathematics. As my own children are quite young, this unit study is primarily aimed at early primary or elementary aged children but can easily be adapted to older children.

Getting started:

First you choose your imaginary explorer. this can be a picture of the child them self, a cartoon avatar, or in our case a stuffed toy who is going to travel the world. I also like to include something children can collect, as I find children love collecting anything. In our case the child gets a flag sticker that corresponds to the each country visited. We will also be creating postcards on the computer with a picture of the country, and the toy superimposed,  and in our case mission clues. We will be keeping a diary of the journey which the child makes up. The diary also includes pictures drawn by the child and pictures from the internet or magazines. Collecting coins or stamps from each country studied can really add to the fun, and you can find either inexpensively on ebay. The journey begins where we live, and the first assignment will be be to learn about our own locality.

Next our toy will get a secret mission, I will provide basic information, as to where he should travel and allow the child to choose method of travel, plane, train, car etc.. Maths come in here as we discuss the different amount of time it takes to travel to each place. An older child might  prefer to skip the secret agent bit, but a younger child can really have fun with this. You might even decide a totally different theme for your trips, such as a rock stars tour. In fact a young music fan can even choose to follow an actual favourite bands real tour.

The Journey begins

Whichever theme you choose, or even none you choose your start location, and where to travel too, drawing your route of travel across a map of the globe, perhaps using a different key for air, land or water travel.  At each country you stop you learn as much as possible about that country. You start with it’s location on the map. The child finds out about it’s climate and terrain, as well as what kind of animals might live there. You read folktales and stories from that country, listen to their language and music,and  find out about their currency. An older child can use a currency converter and find out how much things will cost in their own currency. Children learn about the countries religion and if possible celebrate one of their holidays. Children also learn about hobbies and games for that country and give them a try. You can make and break a pinata on Cinco De Mayo for Mexico, make dragon masks and have a dragon dance for Chinese New Year,  and make and fly Kites for Japans Children’s Day. when learning about Eid we studied the phases of the moon as well as Eid must be at the right phase of the moon. For Chanukah children will enjoy lighting the candles on the Menorah. Of course making and trying out the foods makes it all the more fun. You might try games like mancala for Africa, chess for Persia, draughts or checkers for Egypt or backgammon for Iraq. Mr. Fox could be played for Britain or Ireland, Topfschlagen for Germany and American Football for the USA.  Instructions for these games and many more can be found online, simple type in the country you are studying and children’s games.

I do believe children remember more of what they learn when it is done in a fun and exciting manor. Much like Mrs. Frizzle and the Magic School Bus, this unit study gives us the chance to leave books and desks behind and really explore new things. The child can look back on their diary, or log book to remember some of the things about each country.

 You can use as few or as many resources as you wish. Most of what you need can be found online but these are a few of the books I have found very helpful:

• National Geographic

• National Geographic Kids

• Festivals Across the Year for ages 6-7 by Andrew Brodie

• Around the world in 80 Tales

• Wonderful Worlds of Disney Stories From Other Lands

• Wonderful Worlds of Disney America

• Around the World in 80 Tales by Saviour Pirotta and Richard Johnson

• Britannia 100 Great Stories from British History

• My Sister Shahrazad Tales from the Arabian Knights  by Robert Leeson & Christina Balit

• Coll the Storyteller’s Tales of Enchantment ( Celtic – Ireland, Scotland, Wales, England)

• Atticus the Story Teller’s 100 Greek Myths

• Androcles and the Lion

• The Peach Boy and Other Favourite Japanese Children’s Stories

• Ferdinand the Bull

• The story of Ping (China)

• Tubby and the Lantern (China)

• Borreguita and the Coyote (Mexico)

• The Rainbow Crow ( USA )

• My First Atlas