Thursday, March 13, 2014

South America Unit for Kindergartners

We have yet to visit South America for real but in the meantime, we paid it a visit through our little continent unit. We enjoyed making some crafts reminiscent of the place, learned about some of its animals, looked at the map and the country flags and even bought ourselves a succulent Brazilian watermelon! :) Oh...did I forget to mention that we thoroughly enjoyed the music? What's South America without an Argentinian Tango, a Brazilian Bossa Nova or an Ecuadorian Pasillo?

Homemade Chilean Rainstick
I've been on the hunt for a real, authentic rainstick from Chile for a while now but until I find the perfect one (or rather...until I buy one myself in Chile probably), I had the kids make their own. We first watched a short video to see what a rainstick really is, how it sounds, how it's made and finally made our own using what we had on hand ( dry cactus here I'm afraid). I had planned on Adrian doing this by himself but little Z was around and craft time is always something she "must" do. We used an empty wrapping paper roll as a base, finishing nails were hammered in (the more, the slower your filler will go down) and then one end was shut with wax paper and tape. Various beans and peas were used to fill the tube before having the other end shut tight. Finally, it was decoration time. I provided felt scraps (mostly jaguar print) and vividly colored feathers reminiscent of a macaw or toucan. To help the drying process of felt over cardboard, elastic bands were wrapped around the sticks and then...the party began! :) 

Materials used to make the rainsticks

Layers of the rainforest cut & paste
Ecosystems are a very advanced concept and since Adrian never showed much interest in rainforests, I decided to only offer a quick overview of the Amazon rainforest. We explored the basic layers and finished with a collage of the fauna living in these different layers. Down on the floor, we had an antearter, a jaguar and a piranha. In the understorey, a boa constrictor and a leaf-cutter ant. In the canopy, a sloth, a toucan and a howler monkey. Finally, in the emergent layer was a harpy eagle, a macaw and a blue morpho butterfly. Of course, we discussed how some butterflies go through all the layers and how some animals, like the sloth, can spend most of their life in the very same tree. :)

Flags of South America, Syllables and Chocolate Chips
Renae, at Every Star is Different, had a South America week this year as well and made these beautiful syllable cards for her family. Adrian knows how to count syllables in words but in country names, it can be more tricky so I thought we'd try this. Our markers were chocolate chips...because chocolate is pretty much a South American treat! :)

Pin Flags & South American Map

As usual, a "giant" continent map and pin flags. This time, for a change, the flags were stuck in play dough which had to be transported onto the map. No poking into a board.

Origami jumping Poison Dart Frog
Colorful froggies are all over the Amazon and it made me nostalgic of those jumping frogs we used to make as kids. Surely, it wasn't too hard to make that kind of origami! Turns out, it's not too hard but it's not completely hands-off. My son needed a bit of guidance to complete his frog but loved his final result and made it do back flips quite a bit. In fact, he still is.

Color by Country - South America
Who doesn't like coloring? Here, a color-by-country map of South America. To control errors, I had a "master" copy already colored but Adrian was allowed used of his atlas and globe too. He did well, remembering where each country was.

Fill in the Missing Letters

Fine motors have long been a struggle here, in particular the pencil grip. In the winter, I finally "broke down" and ordered a "handwriting program" to teach Adrian proper handwriting and it has been very helpful for him. We have gone through all the capitals and numbers and are now going through the lowercase letters but for this activity, only capital letters were necessary. He loved being able to practice his "big" letters. Each South America country was listed so in the end, I think 5 letters had not gotten a chance to be on paper and he had to find out which ones they were and write them down. It added to the excitement...and added to the practice of handwriting! :)

Llama craft - wrapping with thread/yarn

The llama being such a representative animal of South America, I thought it deserved its own craft. This one (found it by "googling" llama craft) with popsicle sticks and yarn/thread is sure to get those fine motor skills going too. First, the sticks have to be glued together and allowed to dry (we used liquid glue) and the next day, the "wrapping" can begin. For the head, a simple oval can be cut and a small goggly eye added. I wish we had small oval woodsies for the head! :(

* * *

Enjoying What You're Reading?
Follow Sorting Sprinkles on Facebook or Sign Up to be Notified When New Posts Are Out!

* * *

This week, I'm happily linking up to


  1. Looks like a fun week! I'm so glad you enjoyed the syllable cards. :) I love the idea of using play dough with the flags instead of poking. Definitely have to remember that one. Next year when we do South America again, I'll have to remember to focus more on the music. I don't know why I didn't this year, but oh well.

    1. Your free printables are great Renae! My son really liked the syllable cards. He loves flags so that flew off the shelves quite quickly! :) I just had to have some South American music for some reason. Probably because I love its rhythm! :) Maybe it was more for me than him in fact but through my passion, he developed his...