Monday, October 14, 2013

Europe Unit for Kindergartners

Ah...the much awaited week! It had better be good! :) For lack of a better word, Adrian has been fascinated/borderline obsessed with flags and maps and countries since summertime. Needless to say, many of the activities presented were simply thrilling to him and he could have gone on and on. I felt like these activities were repetitive a bit but he loved them all. I also felt like he didn't learn that much because he already knew a lot of this stuff but it reinforced what he already knew and we were able to concentrate and what he knew less of I guess. I made a point of including lots of flags because he LOVES flags. I also made sure to include phonics as this is an ongoing struggle...

Produce Origin
Where Did My Produce Come From? - Europe or Not?

For the past few weeks, Adrian has been asking me where our fruit comes from. You see, he noticed the berry containers had German flag stickers on them and so I had told him they had been grown locally. Well, now he wants to know where everything is grown of  course, so during Europe week, I put together a basket of fruits with flags. He was delighted! His task was to sort the fruits into two groups: the ones that had been grown in Europe and the ones that had been grown outside of Europe. I am actually looking forward to doing this again this winter when we study Africa. I know Europe gets lots of vegetables and fruits from there in the wintertime so it will be exciting. Of course I could just do make believe but when it's real, it's even better! :) By the way, Adrian was allowed to use his reference book in case of doubt!

Europe Map Where I've Been
Where Have I Been? - Coloring a Map

This was an absolute favorite. Being that we live in Europe, we get to travel a lot. We love traveling and took "baby Adrian" to a lot of countries before he even turned two. He doesn't remember much but he still thinks it's really cool that he's been to all these countries. Here, I supplied the flags of the nations he's been to and a map ready to color. At this point in our week, he knew where each country was except for Estonia, Slovakia and Slovenia. Still working on these... :)

European Landmark Cards and Objects
European Landmarks - Cards & Miniature Objects

This one is more of a cultural activity. I would have loved to used postcards for it but instead made some cards myself. I thought of making 2 part cards but at five years old, matching cards like these feels a bit boring. Instead, "I saved some trees", printed only one set (even saved myself lots of research by using mostly pictures we took ourselves during our travels to make them), and used Safari Ltd. "Around the World" Landmark Toob to match with some of the homemade European Landmark Cards. We of course didn't skip the presentation of the cards and I pointed out the landmarks Adrian saw himself (he was a mere tot back then so it was mere disbelief to him). 

Flags and Beginning Letters Europe
Beginning Country Letters & Flags

Yet another activity involving flags...because yes, my boy is in love with flags. To satiate this love, I presented him with six different country names to decipher by sounding out the 3 beginning letters (a CVC combination). Once these were sounded out, he had to find the matching flag. This was actually one of Adrian's favorite activities this week. So many possibilities in terms of countries to put out there. In the end, I think we exhausted all the CVC combinations for Europe! :) I liked that it was both a phonics, geography and a bit of a "thinking" game at the same time. Of course, the child has to have a deep knowledge of geography for this, otherwise, whether they sound the letters right or not, they will not come up with the country that it starts with! :) For this activity, Adrian matched:

Portugal, Norway, Finland, Turkey, Romania, Belgium, Belarus, Poland, Germany, Bosnia, Monaco, Montenegro, Macedonia, Bulgaria, Moldova, Lithuania, Latvia, Hungary, Denmark, Netherlands, Serbia, Kosovo, Vatican City/Holy See, San Marino, Luxembourg, Malta (Cyprus).

Matching Beginning Ending Country Letters
Matching Beginning and Ending Country Letters

Using the chalkboard is always popular over here. Phonics...not so much. Combining the two together? Makes it "palatable".  Adding country names? Now we've got a fun activity apparently. I first wrote the first three letters of three different European countries and wrote their ending (2 to 3 letters long) on the other side of the board, usually not next to the country they belong to. Adrian then had to sound out the letters to match the beginning and ending letters and make the name of the countries. My goal was really just to revise the letter sounds in a fun way with Adrian. He seemed to be struggling with that last week so this was a good occasion to revise them all... Here are the matches we made:


Watercolor a Flag
Watercolors - Flag of My Country

Everyone loves art. My son used to shy away from it a bit but I'm glad I always "suggested" activities every week. He nows enjoys art and "requests" it. This week, I had this watercolor activity and it was the first picked! :) Of course, it also is flag related. I picked the flag of Germany as it is where we live but the website I downloaded the printable from had lots of free printable flags to choose from. :)

Europe Pin Flags Map
Pin Flags and Continent Map

Nothing new here if you use the Montessori method. I purchased my pin flags from Montessori Print Shop and printed the "giant" map myself. Once again, it's an older map that needs revising so some countries' flag won't be used unless you draw them in yourself! :)  I mounted my map on a thick cork board sheet I bought from Hobby Lobby. Not the best idea apparently as the corkboard is so dense it broke two of the toothpick flags! :( Maybe I'll go for play dough mounted flags next time or try a styrofoam mounted sheet, not sure... Anyhow, Adrian loved pinning the flag into the country activity but since the board was so dense, it was hard to punch through and frustrating a times when the flags broke. Once that technical problem is fixed, it should be a great activity. He did very well too only unsure where to put a few of the flags for part of the Balkans.

Flag Peg People in Action
Flag Peg People and their Country of Origin

In case you missed this post, I explained how I made these and where the idea originated from here. This week, we finally got these peg dolls out (to Adrian's delight) and I got the labeled Montessori map out as well. We got this map when we purchased our Europe Puzzle Map so I thought we'd use it with the peg people. It is a bit old as some newer countries as missing but I hadn't painted dolls for every country so it wasn't a problem. Adrian was VERY fast at putting the dolls on the country where they belong and asked me "to make the rest of the dolls" hahaha Who knows...?

Montessori Wooden Puzzle Map - Europe

The three period presentation was of course given here and Adrian did rather well. As mentioned above, the Balkans and Baltic States still pose a bit of a problem at time in terms of their exact location and flags (he mixes them around sometimes) but other than that, he knows the other countries' names and location very well.

Tracing a Country
Tracing countries - Making your Own Map

What started as a "let's trace a country" ended up as a tracing project. Adrian, still struggling with the proper pencil grip and handwriting was given the opportunity to pick a country of his choice off our Montessori wooden map so he could trace it on a thick cardboard with a pencil. He picked Germany (probably because we live here) and then proceeded to trace all the neighboring countries as well. In fact, he liked the tracing activity so much that he is planning on tracing the entire Europe map that fits on his cardboard sheet! :)

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  1. These are all fantastic ideas! It's interesting how children love learning about the different flags. Thanks for sharing with Mom's Library, I'll be featuring you this week at Crystal's Tiny Treasures.

    1. I know. I just go with the flow and feed into the "frenzy"! :) Thanks for "passing on the word" with the feature Crystal! It's very sweet of you!

  2. Awesome unit as always! Thanks for sharing at Mom's Library!

  3. Love these ideas! My son is fascinated with maps right now, so I'm looking forward to borrowing these activities from you! Just pinned to my Geography board. Thanks for sharing at the Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop!

    1. Glad you found some ideas to use with your son Leanna. Little boys and their maps! :) Mine can't seem to get enough map and flag activities. I bet your boy will be just the same after you introduce a few! :)

    2. Thank you for your encouragement! I haven't tried any flag activities yet; I'm sure he'll love them!

      You have been featured on this month's Creative Kids Culture Blog Hop. Can't wait to see what you link up this time:

      Don't forget to grab your button :)

    3. Thank you Leanna for the feature! It's always fun to see my work recognized and shared! I hope it will be helpful to many more families! :)