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Archive for the ‘Geography’ Category

Looking back in Time

One of my son’s favorite books to page through recently has been A Street Through Time which is a DK book written by Anne Millard and illustrated by Steve Noon. The “A ______ through time” series is an impressive collection of pages that illustrate what a place looked like at different points in history. Part of the appeal of the book for my son is the larger size, so when opened to a particular page, the street view spans both sides of the pages. This particular book starts at the Stone Age Hunters era (about 10,000BC) and goes through to present time. There are explanations of things to look for around the perimeter of the pages, and locations are labeled in the illustrations. An added bonus is that on each page there’s a hidden time traveler that you can look for (reminds me of the Where’s Waldo Books). This book has been very fun to sit and look at with my sons. There is so much detail on each page as you see the cut-away views inside houses and shops. It has sparked some interesting thoughts about what our street looked like throughout history.

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I hope to do more blog entries that are not about our country study, but for now it seems to be when I have the time we are in the midst of geography study and it’s fresh on my mind.  You can read my previous geography entries here for Argentina and here for the spine we are using.

So if you’re looking to get a little introduction to Brazil, here are some books you might want to check out.  Very likely that you’re library has them, so be sure to check there first.  I always have to put a plug for our great libraries.  They get so little funding but provide so much to the community!

One thing about Brazil is that it provides a good jumping off point if you want to learn about rain forests.  We kept it mostly focused on the country for now but I’m sure we’ll make our way back to a rain forest study sometime.

Keeping in mind that there are plenty of educational guides simply about Brazil aimed at older children, I was searching for books that would be for 3rd grade and under, as read-alouds.

Count Your Way Through Brazil written by Jim Haskins and Kathleen Benson is a fun book that gives an introduction to 10 significant characteristics of Brazil.  On each page, it introduces the Portuguese number and explains the topic.  Some of the explanations are rather lengthy, so for a few of them I just picked out the main points to highlight with my kids.  They had fun trying to pronounce the numbers in Portuguese (there’s a pronunciation guide for each one).  The book covers the beginnings of Brazil, products that come from Brazil, foods, national pastimes, music, animals, ethnic groups, and more.

The next one is a kind of an alphabet book, and reminded me of Jerry Pallotta’s alphabet booksB is for Brazil by Maria de Fatima Campos.  This book is similar to the one above, but instead of using numbers it uses letters to teach us 26 things about Brazil.  For instance, R is for rubber which is made from the liquid in the rubber tree and is an export of Brazil.  C is for Carnival, the huge celebration before the start of Lent.  The pictures throughout are actual photographs, which I appreciate for a book about a specific country.

Yet another alphabet type book, A to Z Brazil by Justine and Ron Fontes uses the alphabet to give us 26 categories of information.  F is for food, then the page has the description of a popular Brazilian food.  N is for Nation which includes a full page map showing where Brazil is located in South America, and a large picture of the Brazilian flag.  This book is a good intermediate country book when children are too young to glean much from a long country guide.  Again, the pictures are actual photographs, so it’s nice just to page through it with your child, even if you don’t read every page.

The next three books are literature suggestions that go with Brazil.  Not specifically giving facts about the country but good stories nonetheless.

First is a trickster tale from Brazil called The Dancing Turtle, by Pleasant DeSpain.  A turtle is captured by a native Brazilian family and the father puts him in a cage to be cooked in soup the next day.  His children are asked to watch over him.  Turtle tricks the kids into setting him free.  My 5 year old especially enjoyed this story and loved to imagine this turtle dancing his way out of danger.

The Sea Serpent’s Daughter tells a Brazilian legend about how day and night came to be created.  In this creation story the sea serpents daughter arrives on land, to a village and realizes that so much day-light is too much for her.  So the villagers head out to collect some darkness from the depths of the sea, and so it continues until there is finally a balance of daylight and darkness.

The last literature selection is more specficially about the Amazon Rain Forest.  The Great Kapok Tree tells about a man who begins to cut down a tree in the rainforest.  He ends up falling asleep at the base of the Kapok tree and begins to dream.  In his dream, animals and people of the rain forest visit him and tell him the importance of this tree to their lives.  When he awakes, will he continue to cut down the tree or will he be changed?  I’ll let you and your kids find out!

Finally, if you’re looking for a saint to study with Brazil, check out a previous post of mine, in the Holy Friends book you can find the story of St. Pauline of the Agonizing Heart of Jesus, Brazil’s first saint.

So there it is, Brazil by books!  Please leave a comment if you have other literature suggestions for Brazil.

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The first stop in our trip around the world, is Argentina.  We are not doing an in depth study, as my children are still young.  My goal is just to give them an idea of how people live around the world, show them pictures of places in other countries and improve their geography skills.  So I put together a book list for our reading about Argentina this week.  I’m sure there are others, but for now this is what I could glean from the library at short notice!  There are also plenty of country guides for older children doing more in depth study, but the ones I am highlighting are for younger children.

The first book, I don’t have a picture of, but it is Countries of the World: Argentina by Nicole Frank.  This one is more text-bookish, and I wouldn’t suggest reading it aloud to your children unless they are having a hard time sleeping!  But it’s a great starting place for pictures, just to page through and give kids some good images from the country.  It’s going to have a good overview of climate, geography, government, etc.

The next book, I have not yet read, but it will be on my 7 yo’s reading list.  It’s a chapter book, called Chucaro:  Wild Pony of the Pampa and is written by Francis Kalnay.  It’s also a Newbury Honor book.  The story is about a boy who is determined to own a pony from the pampa, grasslands in Argentina.

The next story, which we have read is Gauchada by C. Drew Lamm. It is about the Argentinian expression, “to make a gauchada” which means “to do something kind, something with love, without expecting anything in return.” This is a simple picture book with bold illustrations about a necklace that is carved by a cowboy, or gaucho and is given to many people along the way. The story also uses other words unique to Argentina that are sprinkled throughout the story, and if you don’t know what they mean there’s explanations at the beginning of the story.

So there are a few books to get your started with your Argentina study. If you would like to do a full study, Homeschool Creations has some lesson plans and printables to get you started.

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I wish I could remember how I came across this book. It must have been on some world geography book list I found recently while making my lesson plans for our homeschool. At any rate, I’m glad I found it!

The Giraffe That Walked to Paris is a children’s book based on true events from early 19th century France.  It’s written by Nancy Milton and illustrated by Roger Roth.  The story goes that the pasha of Egypt wanted to give a present to King Charles X of France, to improve relations between the two countries after disagreements about a spat between Turkey and Greece.  It was suggested to the pasha to give the king a giraffe.

So the giraffe made the journey across the Mediterranean Sea to the coast of France and landed in Marseilles.  Since they wanted to keep the giraffe in a warmer climate for the winter, she stayed there until spring.  The only way they could figure to have the giraffe make the journey north to Paris to be presented to the king was to have her walk with an entourage of cows, and caretakers.

She finally made it to Paris and in an elaborate ceremony was presented to the king.  Then she lived out her days at the Paris zoo.

This book is a fun story, if not a good way to be introduced to the historical facts the story is based upon.  It was interesting for my kids to imagine seeing a giraffe the first time, if never even been introduced to a picture of one, for that is what it was like for the people of France to see the giraffe walk from town to town.

The Giraffe That Walked to Paris is appropriate for Kindergarten and up.  It’s a longer picture book, with several paragraphs on each page, so it would also be appropriate for independent reading for older children.

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For a while now, I’ve heard many recommendations in the homeschooling world for a DK book called Children Just Like Me:  A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World. It is often used as a jumping off book to study different countries and cultures around the world.  We finally got the book from the library to preview it and decided it needed to be part of our home library long term.

This book is by Barnabas and Anabel Kindersley and is published by Dorling Kindersley.  Each two page spread in Children Just Like me features a profile of a child.   With each child, no matter where they live, we see a full page picture of them with a description of some of their clothes.  We see a picture of their house, their school, some of their school books.  We also see a picture of his family, a point of interest from their country and how he would write his name.

In many ways, the book is typical DK children’s book fashion.  Large colorful photographs, smaller captions.  Overall they are busy pages.  This isn’t a story book by any stretch.  More of a book to page through with your kids and look at the pictures, talk about the captions.  Older children can certainly read the parts on their own and will enjoy it.

Some of the countries included are:  India, Tanzania, Jordan, Thailand, Poland, Hungary, France, US, Australia, Argentina, Bolivia.  Each of the habitable continents are represented.  The book is divided by continent with a page introduction for each one.  I love that throughout the book, children of all socio-economic classes are represented.  Even if a child lives in a paper hut, it is presented the same as a child living in a fancy home.

We plan to use this book to direct our country studies throughout the year.  I will supplement each country with other non-fiction books from the library and we will hopefully make a family meal that will represent the country or region we are studying. But, if you aren’t homeschooling, I think this book makes a great addition to your home library.  It’s a great starting point for curiosity.  Children will love to hear about how kids their age live all around the world.  In addition there are other books to supplement, one about stories, celebrations, and even a sticker book to complement Children Just Like Me.

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