I am so inspired by the motivated and interesting parents that we have in our community. With summer here, many of my conversations of late have of course included, "What are you going to be doing with your kids?" questions. Camps, sports, and trips are the expected answers of course, but I've also been hearing some inspiring plans that parents have to keep the brain drain to a minimum, and most importantly, to keep learning fun.
One idea that sounds fantastic is to dedicate each week to a country of your choosing. I love it! What a nice way to infuse our secluded Moraga lives with a touch from the outside world, and of course, what an interesting way to guide some of your reading selections for the summer.
If this sounds good and like entirely too much work, check out a book called A Trip Around the World by Carson-Dellosa Publishing Company to jump start your efforts. The book covers twelve countries (including the U.S.) and includes facts/figures, maps, activities (like making homemade tortillas for Mexico - yum!), and coordinating reading lists. Some of the activities are definitely geared for the younger set and I don't want to oversell the book, but I think it has some gems in it. I like the recipes for food to make and some of the tidbits of information, like that Kenya's motto is "harambee," which means "pull together." The writers suggest having your kids come up with a classroom (or in this case family) motto of their own. Who knows, that could prove to be an interesting dinner conversation.
I am also, of course, interested in the books that are suggested for each country. I will put a smattering of links at the bottom of this post to share some of the books I am likely to check out this summer.
Finally, I can't finish up a post about global awareness without putting in a plug for a non-fiction history series that has been surprisingly popular at our house: The Story of the World by Susan Wise Bauer and Jessie Bauer comes in four volumes. We started with ancient history, moved on to the middle ages, and are now in the early modern period. The final book in the series covers modern times. Bauer and her mother, Jessie Wise (of homeschooling acclaim) have written these books with children in mind and their efforts have succeeded. After I finish a chapter, there are generally requests for me to read more. I love that my kids are being introduced to world history in the form of stories and I have to say that I've been a bit gleeful when they (out of the blue) ask me if I remember the story about so-and-so from volume one. They are indeed like sponges and summer seems to be a great time for them to soak up the world.
Another quick and easy way to bring the world (and some unexpected reading) to your house this summer is to sign up for Little Passports. Your child will receive letters, pictures, and activities in the mail from two fictional children who are traveling the world. And if you'd like to connect with a real person and learn some of the language from your country of the week, check out Livemocha.
Here's a list of books I'll be checking out. Please leave your suggestions in the comments!
The Story about Ping by Marjorie Flack
The Chi'i-lin Purse: A Collection of Ancient Chinese Stories by Linda Fang
Ming Lo Moves the Mountain by Arnold Lobel
The Dragon Prince: A Chinese Beauty and the Beast Tale by Laurence Yep
Journey Through China by Philip Steele
The Pied Piper of Hamelin by Robert Browning
Cooking the German Way by Helga Parnell
The Bremen Town Musicians by Ilse Plume
The Queen Who Couldn't Bake Gingerbread by Dorothy Van Woerkom
Mummies Made in Egypt by Aliki
Fun with Hieroglyphs by Catherine Roehrig
The Egyptian Cinderella by Shirley Climo
Golden Goblet by Eloise Jarvis McGraw
Pyramids! 50 Hands-on Activities to Experience Ancient Egypt by Avery and Mantell Hart
Zekmet the Stone Carver by Mary Stolz