Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Do you want to introduce your children to the countries of the world? In this unit I collected books, videos, web resources, and activities to introduce elementary school children to Colombia.
Unit study for elementary school about Colombia: books, activities, and other resources
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What Did We Know?

I am loving this project that we embarked on to learn about countries of the world with our Geo Cards. This time Smarty pulled Colombia out of the deck. She admitted that she knows nothing about Colombia except that it is in South America. My husband and I looked at each other and said together, Drugs! Yes, this is sad that Colombia has such a bad reputation in the world for its drug cartels and violence, but as we dug deeper, we all discovered a lot more things about Colombia that we did not know before.

Books About Colombia

There are many non-fiction books about each country in our library, but I looked through them and found them all kind of "dry". So we picked two non-fiction books:
Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter tells a story of a teacher who wanted to share his love of books with children in isolated jungle villages. It was a bit simplistic for my 9 year old, but the book gave us some foundation for discussions on how different life might be for a child born in a remote village of Colombia. 
The Monkey People by Eric Metaxas is a Colombian folk tale that really made us pause and think of its meaning. The story starts by saying how a jungle village was doing so well that people got lazier and lazier and wanted to do practically nothing. The moral seems to be that too much wealth and leisure time is bad for people - something that my daughter disagrees with as she would love more free time to do what she pleases :)

Colombian Rainforest

While studying Colombia, we learned that it's second most bio-diverse country in the world (after Brazil). This relatively small country hosts 10% of planet's biodiversity, mostly due to the fact that 53% of its territory is still covered by natural forests. We also learned that majestic Andean Condor is a national bird of Colombia. Since Smarty is already 9, we did not delve deep into rainforest study, but you might want to digress into it with younger kids using resources from our updated rainforest unit study.

A Video About Colombia

When we studied Ethiopia, we were able to find an interesting video about the country through Amazon Prime Video. We had less luck with Colombia, but I picked up Globe Trekker: Panama and Colombia DVD from our local library. Smarty and I both appreciated the fact that the video traveler was a young woman. After the movie Smarty was able to name three things about Colombia that were most interesting to her personally.

Three Fascinating Facts About Colombia

These 3 facts were picked by my 9 year old daughter.

1. Coca Plant

Yes, coca plant has a very bad reputation as a source of cocaine. In fact, the travel movie about Colombia took the viewers to an illegal coca plantation and explained how the farmers produce crack cocaine by combining coca pulp with pretty nasty chemicals such as gasoline and sulfuric acid. Smarty was horrified and swore that she would never ever consider ingesting or inhaling something so vile. But, more interestingly, the movie talked about the use of coca plant by locals as a way to combat altitude sickness, tiredness, and thirst. The movie said that unprocessed leaves are non-addictive, but clearly a lot of people in South America chew them just as tobacco used to be chewed here in US.

 2. The Lost City

The lost city is an archaeological site in remote Colombian Sierra Nevada region. The area was rediscovered in 1976 and is now open to tourists through a strenuous multi-day jungle trek. Smarty loves history and was fascinated to learn about this relatively recent archaeological discovery.

3 Bullet Proof Clothing

Yes, that :) Globe Trekker crew has visited a factory in Bogota producing bullet-proof clothes that apparently are popular not just in Colombia. The movie included a demonstration where the owner of the factory "shot" one of his employees with a .22 caliber revolver, and Smarty found it incredibly interesting, especially the fact that they also produce bullet-proof underwear. I wonder who wears it and why...

A Colombian "Field Trip"

During our Colombian week, I told Smarty that I would take her on a "field trip" to Colombia. She was very intrigued and asked me if we were going to visit a coca plantation. Our trip was not quite so exotic. We went to a local Colombian bakery where Smarty got to try authentic Colombian food - yummy chicken emplanadas, guava juice and a dessert pastry called guava finger. She enjoyed Colombian cafe food very much, and I will share our Colombian dinner in an upcoming post.

Your Turn

Books, activities, and resources to introduce children to Colombia

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maryanne @ mama smiles said...

Fascinating country study. Colombia is a beautiful country.

Dual Learning Home Educator said...

So sad that you would only think of drugs when you hear the name of my country. See, the fact is, I used to live there until I was 18 years old. I never saw anyone using, producing, selling, or buying drugs (except on American movies). I could walk by a coca plant and think nothing of it. I was not able to recognize it.
Why not focus on its coffee, its innovations (textiles, and transportation: check Medellin and their public systems), food (gluten free and fresh!), amazing athletes, and scientists. You will be surprised of all Colombia has to offer. Just Like the USA is not all about McDonald, Colombia is not all about drugs. Please share this with your daughter. And if you will like a souvenir for her, I will gladly bring her something. My kids and I are flying to Colombia this Sunday. (Note: we will be there for three weeks!)

Ticia said...

Interesting. I was just realizing that Colombia is one of the Hispanic cuisines that I can't really think if I've had any foods from it. Texas is well represented with Mexican, Cuban, and Tex-Mex (of both the Texan and New Mexico variety), oh and Brazil, but I can't think of any of the other countries for food......

I thought coffee. I remember growing up and seeing all the coffee ads saying "genuine Colombian coffee beans used."

Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Love the idea of the BiblioBurro!


Jump into A Book said...

Ah I love this book and I loved visiting Columbia with you. Thanks for celebrating MCCBD with us and for sharing this link. Happy Reading !

Dual Learning Home Educator said...

Hi! We just got back from our trip. I will like to invite you to check out my blog to learn about the real Colombia! I will be posting about Cartagena, carnivals in Barranquilla (coastal region), Bucaramanga and MedellĂ­n (in the Andes mountains). It was a phenomenal trip that made me feel so proud of my beautiful country.