Thursday, July 22, 2010

Do you enjoy geography for preschool and elementary school children? Would you like to do a hands-on mini country study at home? Then please visit my hands-on-geography series about introducing children to cultures and countries around the world.Planet Smarty Pants - a book and activities to learn about ItalyThis post has been refreshed in June 2014 with new graphics and resource section. Disclosure: I am an Amazon associate and this post contains affiliate links. For full disclosure, please click here and thank you for supporting my blog!

Hands On Geography

We have started introducing our daughter to different cultures since she was about 3 years old. Over years, we read about many different countries trying to encourage daughter to pick a country of her choice when she got older. We also tried to pair up a book with a cooking, craft, or science activity that would make Smarty’s view of the country more “hands on”. You are welcome to check out other posts in Hands-On-Geography series:

A Book About Italy

Angelina of Italy
Angelina of Italy is a part of a short series by a famous poet and writer Maya Angelou. I have to agree with some of Amazon reviews that the story is “contrived” and built around the word play that is more understood by adults than children. Angelina is part of a big family and her favorite food is, of course, pizza. When she learns about The Tower of Pisa, she imagines that it is made out of pizza, and she is very worried that the tower will collapse and the pizza will be ruined. Angelina’s family drives to Pisa where a girl can discover that the famous tower is indeed made out of stone.

Look at the Map

Italy Map

We looked at the atlas and found Italy in Europe. Smarty was amused to see that Italy looks like a fancy boot with a high heel. I pointed out the places in Italy that I visited while working in Europe – Rome, Naples, Florence, and then we looked at the Venice pictures from our Mediterranean cruise that her Papa and I took before she was born.

Tower of Pisa in Model Magic


Lately Smarty expressed more interest in making 3D projects. I like how she brainstorms the ways of making something. She decided that she wants to make a Tower of Pisa with play dough. We had a package of Crayola Model Magic, and finally the moment came to try it out. Both of us loved playing with it. The taller structure that you see on the right is my version of Tower of Pisa – sorry if it looks more like you-know-what, I did my best :). Smarty had terrific time trying to stabilize her towers all the time explaining to me how she is going to dig under it the way Italian engineers did to stabilize the real Tower of Pisa. Eventually, however, she had a change of heart, and both our towers ended up as a furniture set for Pooh and Piglet. At least both of them got mini Pisa Towers for “cuddle friends”. Smarty thought that it’s very important to have plenty of bookshelves with books (stones) in Pooh and Piglet’s bedroom.

Cook Around the World – Pizza

It was not difficult to choose what to make for dinner after reading Angelina from Italy. My favorite homemade pizza dough recipe takes less than an hour to get ready, and Smarty was happy to help with pizza sauce and with putting everything on pizza. Interestingly, however, she is a rare child who doesn’t like pizza, because she doesn’t like neither tomatoes nor melted cheese.

More Activities for Italy

Follow my Pinterest board Geography

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite picture book about Italy?


Anonymous said...

Thanks for the chuckle first thing in the morning! I'm not much of a sculptress, either.

Anna looks so happy making the pizza. Homemade pizza is the best!

Christy said...

I like the early morning chuckle too!

I love homemade pizza. Our favorites are prosciutto with caramelized onions, and brie, apple, and chicken-apple sausage - so GOOD!

That book sounds very good.

Anonymous said...

I haven't heard of this book before, so thank you for sharing. It sounds great. Modeling clay is a really fun art medium and her me a slice!

Annette W. said...

Neat book and perfect activities! I have found that I struggle with the dough for pizza, but I do like to make my own sauce. I make a batch and freeze the leftovers in baggies.

If it heats up your home with the oven on, it definitely counts for baking!

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

This would segway perfectly into a science lesson with Galileo's "leaning tower of Pisa experiment" - which he may or may not have actually done :)

Ticia said...

I love the picture of the house she set up.

Michelle said...

I have been wanting to try out 3d projects with Emily. We just tried out model magic at the crayola factory on our vacation. It was fun, but Emily just rolled it out flat and wrote her name on it :0)

Anna's project looks so cute and the pizza very tasty...We love homemade pizza here too!

Thanks for linking up to stART!

Debbie said...

I have been wanting to get some modeling clay and try some different things with Selena, maybe this year will be the time.

Your pizza looks yummy, and is making me hungry for some!

Wonder Mom said...

Brava! Brava!

Charlene said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! And I love the story about how Pooh and Piglet ended up with the "recycled" furniture.

Oh and might I add, I love how bright your kitchen me hope as I'm about to embark on a painting adventure (white cabinets with stainless steel hardware).

Thanks for sharing!

Charlene said...

Sounds like a wonderful book! And I love the story about how Pooh and Piglet ended up with the "recycled" furniture.

Oh and might I add, I love how bright your kitchen me hope as I'm about to embark on a painting adventure (white cabinets with stainless steel hardware).

Thanks for sharing!

sbswtp said...

Great post :) The sculpture came out great and the pizza looks yummy!!!

MaryAnne said...

Homemade pizza is the best! Anna is growing up with such a rich knowledge of the world, I'm sure these memories will remain throughout her life!

JDaniel4's Mom said...

WoW! Towers and furniture! Your materials were so flexible.

Mayo said...

Taking “trips” to all these different places is such a great idea! The way you integrate reading, activities, and food is so inspired! And getting to eat pizza at the end must be such a reward. Cooking together is not only fun, but it also teaches children important skills, such as teamwork, following directions, and even math. And children who eat meals with their family are less likely to be obese and do better in school That’s why I work with The Kids Cook Monday, a new program initiated by the Healthy Monday campaigns that encourages families to cook and eating together. To find out more about the benefits of preparing and eating meals together, check out our website at

We’re looking for families to take on the challenge of cooking together each week and sharing their experiences on their blog. If you’re interested in participating, please email me at Thanks!


Deceptively Educational said...

I love the clay Tower of Pisa! What a great idea. I really need to plan better so our activities can take us on a tour around the world. Thanks for sharing!