Since my daughter is not even 4 yet, I don’t expect her to have any sort of mastery in geography. Yes, we do look at maps and talk about countries, oceans and continents, but I don’t really expect her to point out any countries on the map and I expect her even less to label blank maps. My goal is just to give her “a taste” of geography, and I intend to revisit places on the map as many times as she wants to. For example, we have already “visited” Germany, Israel and Egypt twice, because she wanted to learn more about these places.
I usually prepare for geography theme in advance, because the books take a while to arrive to our library if they are ordered through our interlibrary Link+ system. Still, it’s awesome that I can find almost any book in California-Nevada libraries. So I go to Amazon.com and search for books with the name of the country in the title. Then I refine my search to select only books for children age 4-8 and try to find something that my daughter might like. In the beginning I tried some books like ABC of country X or Discover the World alphabet, but they all turned out to be too complex to hold Anna’s interest. Now I usually try to find one fiction and one non-fiction book about the country and take it from there.
We also try to literally taste the country by selecting a recipe from its national cuisine. It’s not difficult with our friend Google. Anna likes to say, we need to ask Internet, she knows everything. I was lucky to find German, Indian, Japanese, and Mexican dishes that were easy to make and they were even accepted by my picky eater.
I try to incorporate theme crafts, but since Anna is not particularly interested in the crafts, it is “hit-and-miss”. The best places for country-based crafts I found so far were DLTK Countries and Cultures and Activity Village crafts. Generally, it works best when I give Anna a list of possible crafts together with a picture of a completed craft, but to be honest, I rarely have that kind of time.
In addition to cooking, reading and crafting we play. We play travel, we pretend to be in the country, we pretend living in this country, we talk about famous places of that country. We don’t bother learning the flags, the capitals or even a lot of facts about the country – sometimes these things are mentioned in the books we read, but I don’t think it’s important for a four year old to know trivia facts. I just want her to be aware how big the world is, how many places are there to visit and how much fun it is to learn something new about them.
Come and share your adventures in time and space at History/Geography Exchange hosted by Children Grow, Children Explore, Children Learn.