Wednesday, July 18, 2012

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 Australia.
Hands On Geography from Planet Smarty Pants - Australia
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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:

Books About Australia

Ready to Dream
Ready to Dream by Donna Jo Napoli is appropriate for preschool age, but scales well to elementary school children and could be done with middle school students exploring different art styles. Illustrations by Bronwyn Bancroft are amazing, and she uses native aboriginal style throughout an entire book. The story is about a young girl coming to Australia with her Mom, befriending a local aboriginal artist and learning a new way to draw and to dream. This book gives a great introduction to Australian animals and landscape. For older readers and for read-alouds I highly recommend Stories from the Billabong by James Marshall – this book beautifully retells ten ancient aboriginal myths .

Look at the Map

I am trying not to overwhelm daughter by details, but we do look at the maps during our geography studies to learn a little bit about the country and about map reading at the same time. Smarty knows that Australia is the only country that takes up the whole (smallest) continent, and she learned about two famous landmarks – Urulu (also known as Ayer’s Rock) and Sydney Opera House.

Rock Painting in Aboriginal Style

Since we learned about the aborigines and their art style, we chose to paint rocks as our hands-on Australia project. I didn’t want to “make” Smarty paint in that style – I was hoping to lead by example. Alas – Smarty was very enthusiastic about painting on rocks, but in her own style. She made “a beautiful stripe pinky butterfly family who leaves in a butterfly palace” instead.
Rock Art 5 Year Old
Another canvas in Ready to Dream book was forearms. Smarty went for her hands instead and painted them “beautiful and powerful brown”. It’s funny how quickly she went from carefully wiping her hands on the napkin when even a drop of paint fell on them to this. Luckily, it was a washable poster paint.
Hands Painting

More Activities for Australia

Follow my pinterest board Geography

Your Turn

Do you have a favorite picture book about Australia?


MaryAnne K said...

Anna's butterfly is really good!

I love the idea of painting on rocks. Emma has recently embraced getting messy like Anna - Lily not so much yet. Johnny is usually fine with it, but changes clothes any time they get a drop of water on them!

Love the timing on this post - I have an aboriginal tales post for exploring geography up today!

We got the South Africa Adventures of Riley book out, and Lily surprised me by adoring it. The text is too long for her, but she is fascinated by the style of illustration.

Susan said...

I have always loved Australia...I'm not sure why. It seems like your artsy time was a success :)

Ticia said...

I love the butterfly. Australia is where we're heading next on our journey around the world, so I'll have to remember this..........

There's just something about Australia, maybe it's the fact that they're upside down :)

Debbie said...

There is just something about Australia that most people do find fascinating, I don't quite agree with Ticia, because it's upside down, but I think it has some of the most amazing animals. Love the rocks! They made me want to pull our paint supplies out today and paint rocks.

Christy said...

How funny - Collin and Reagan painted rocks earlier this week - it was on our Summer Bucket list. I love both of your rocks!

Kelly said...

Oxiclean is my best friend :) I love how she painted her rock.
Kelly at Little Wonders' Days

Anonymous said...

This looks like so much fun, I particularly like the rock painting idea.