Wednesday, August 4, 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. The topic for this post is Germany.
Hands On Geography from Planet Smarty Pants - Germany
This 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:

Look at the Map

Smarty already knows a lot about Germany. The most important city for her is Bremen, because this is where her father is born and this is the city she visited as a toddler (it was a terrible trip, but I digress). Now we could place Bremen on the map of Germany and also find Germany capital – Berlin. In our landmark cards we found one of famous German landmarks - Neuschwanstein castle that was inspiration for Disney drawings of a fairy tale castle in Sleeping Beauty.

Fairy Tales and Brothers Grimm

Brothers Grimm
Interestingly, I am yet to find a good children’s book about modern Germany. Instead we focused on the fact that many well known fairy tales were collected by German folklore researchers and writers Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm. We have several collections of fairy tales including this beautiful Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales. Unfortunately, my daughter does not like fairy stories and is not at all interested in watching Disney versions of them. To be fair, original Grimm stories were not meant for children and can be gruesome, but many milder adaptations are available. I strongly recommend prereading fairy tales before sharing them with your children to make sure that your version won't give them nightmares!

Playing with Castles

We already did castles for England fairly recently, but I thought that Smarty would enjoy revisiting this topic again. I had a set of two Playmobil knights saved in my “for later” stash, and I thought that it will work perfectly for the castle I made out of a cardboard box. Besides, Playmobil conveniently happens to come from Germany! Of course, my cardboard box castle was a 10 minute rush job, and my husband had a good laugh when he saw it. I was hoping that Smarty will decorate it, but she was a lot more interested in trying to make furniture for her castle and threw a big fuss when I was not available to help her.
My husband was intrigued by the idea of DIY castle and eventually made a modular castle out of PVC which was “a step above” my cardboard creation. I will share his castle shortly, but here is the preview:
PVC German Castle

Cooking Global – German Meatballs

German Frikadellen
My husband makes several dishes from his Mom’s recipe book – one of our favorites is Geschnetzeltes – meat in a creamy sauce. I am linking to the pork recipe, but my husband usually makes it with chicken. I decided to try a recipe where Smarty could participate more, and we made frikadellen (aka meatballs). At first she was a little apprehensive, but then she warmed up to this messy work and happily helped me make a batch. They turned out OK, but I have to figure out a sauce for them when we make them next time.

More Hands-On Activities for Germany

Follow my Pinterest board Geography

Your Turn

I would be interested in recommendations of books about modern Germany – for preschoolers and for older children.


Christy said...

We have moments like that in our house too.

Collin is not really a meat eater either, but my other two children are.

Looking at that word, I understand why it's difficult to pronounce! I don't even know where to begin.

We have been making castles here too.

MaryAnne said...

Your castle is cute! My kids never want to decorate the stuff I make out of cardboard for them, either - they just want to play with it!

Emma was drawing a house on the sidewalk with chalk a couple months ago. The house had four pieces of furniture: A TV with two chairs (one for her and one for Johnny) right as you walked in the door, and then another TV in her (second!) bedroom! Part of me is relieved that it's not candy machines, which is what I would have put into a house at her age...

An Almost Unschooling Mom said...

Pretty cute, that the knights needed a TV. Do you ask Anna, what the knights wanted to watch?

Ticia said...

Did you know that castle was the inspiration for the Sleeping Beauty castle?

I've run into problems like that (both the wanting to put something totally weird in and the frustration when i can't help). There are times I just want to shut them in their rooms and lock the door. Oh wait, their doors don't have locks, so that won't work.

Kim said...

It's good to know this is how projects end in other houses too. Great ideas, though, and maybe she'll come back to decorate the castle...

Mom and Kiddo said...

I love castles, but Kiddo has get to get interested in them.... I'm waiting for you to study Sweden! :)

Anonymous said...

Anna can be quite headstrong, can't she? LOL Love the TV idea, anyway!

My Family My Forever said...

I would also love to know what the knights were going to watch. I bet Anna had something in mind:-).

You are doing some fun stuff with your Geography studies, and I like your castle. My kids have to be "in the mood" to decorate things.

I definitely wouldn't have been able to pronounce that word, and I had no idea PlayMobil was from Germany.