How to Study Your Favorite Country

As unschoolers, we like to let our kids follow their interests and develop their giftedness. We let them explore and discover, and we offer suggestions and guidance.

But once in awhile, some direct, concentrated school-like activity is fun. That’s what this post is all about.

Here is a one-week unit study on the country of your choice, unschooling style. It’s pretty flexible, but covers a lot of territory.

Day 1: Collecting and Reading

As a family, choose a country to study. Go to the library, and check out several books about the country and its people. Children’s books are best, but also look for large “coffee table” books in the adult section.

If possible, find a movie or a story that takes place in your country.  Don’t forget to look for ethnic music and nonfiction videos.

When you get home, enjoy looking through your finds and begin reading to the younger ones.

Day 2: Geography

Find your country on a map or globe. Talk about bordering countries, climate, and natural features (rivers, lakes, mountains, deserts).

Ideas: work a puzzle that includes your country, create or find a coloring page that is an outline of your country, make a relief map out of clay, find a coloring page of their flag.

Talk about how long it would take to get to your country. What time is it there? What kinds of animals and plants would you find?

Older children could come up with  a list of questions to research from the books you got yesterday at the library, then give an oral report.

Days 3 and 4: Culture

Find information about your country’s native clothing, food, language, writing, homes, games, sports, government, celebrations, festivals, and religion.

You can find online activities, pages of links, and information in your library books.

Ideas: look for a children’s game to play, try to recreate their clothing, find recipes you’d like to try, make a model of a typical home, learn a word or two in their language.

Do you live in an international area? Visit a grocery store that specializes in food from your country. Buy something for your meal tomorrow.

If you live near a college, call their international student office and arrange to take a student from your country out to lunch. Have questions ready. They usually enjoy sharing their culture with others.

Photo by vorty

Day 5: Celebration

Plan a special meal to show off what you’ve learned. If possible, wear culturally appropriate clothing, play ethnic music, and make name cards with facts about your country on back.

Display any coloring, drawings, posters, crafts or reports you did this week. Take the library books with the best pictures on the cover and stand them up around the room. Use mealtime to talk about the most surprising, funny, or interesting thing you each learned.

Keep the interest going by attending ethnic festivals during the year and making friends with international students. And if you have the opportunity to travel to other countries, that’s the ultimate field trip!

I’m sure you all have favorite resources for learning about other cultures. Please share!

About Jena

Jena homeschooled her three children all the way to college. When they left the nest, she started a masters degree in elementary education and taught one year in the public schools. She blogs about her homeschooling years and her interest-led philosophy at Yarns of the Heart.

Comments

  1. Claudia says:

    What great suggestions! My 7 year old loves geography and unit studies like this have been one of our favorite things to do since we started homeschooling this spring. We always end our study with a big feast–he helps create the meal plan, shop for groceries, prepare the meal, choose the music, create something traditional to wear, and decorate with colored flags and on Feast Day we surprise Daddy with all the facts and interesting tidbits we learned.

    I love the idea of finding movies that take place in the country too. Documentaries are always a hit in our house. Thanks for sharing your inspirational ideas!

  2. Kika says:

    Nice – we tend to end up taking much longer than a week, though, to ‘study’ a country. But I like how your post shows that you could set aside just one week to delve into one country. My kids enjoyed creating “lap-books” in which they’d present whatever information they found most interesting about the country in question.

    Along that line, my 10 yr old daughter chose to create a power point about Italy and France and has gotten stuck (the idea was hers as she’d like to visit these countries). She’s ordered various library resources in but nothing has been very inspiring. Anyone have some great resource suggestions related to Italy and/or France?

  3. Jill Foley says:

    We just started doing this last week…we chose China because my daughters love to eat Chinese food and we will end our study with a meal. We made a lapbook and read quite a few books from the library…children’s and adults. We’ve listened to Chinese music and looked at Chinese art.

    The ideas and possibilities are endless…so glad you posted about this.

  4. se7en says:

    That’s a great round-up… we used to do it by the week but recently it takes longer and longer to explore far away places!!!
    .-= se7en’s last blog: The Week That Was – 2.50… =-.

  5. Nola says:

    great ideas! I’ve bookmarked this for later…we’re not into this stage yet. :)

  6. Love this, Jena!
    .-= Misha@ beautyandjoy’s last blog: T-Minus Four Days And Counting =-.

  7. Phyllis says:

    This is how we do it, too!
    .-= Phyllis’s last blog: Katie’s Etsy Shop is Now Open =-.

  8. Christina says:

    There’s a great DVD series called Families of the World. It follows two children from the country – one from somewhere rural, and somewhere in the city – and follows them for a day. They are great to watch during a study like this.

    Christina’s last blog: http://aneclecticodyssey.blogspot.com/2010/06/last-day-of-junior-farmers-program-at.html

  9. Maya says:

    This is perfect! We are planning “Global Summer” workshops for kids here and I love the ideas and links too. Thank you!
    .-= Maya’s last blog: Why You Should Read and Fall in Love With Children’s Books =-.

  10. aimee says:

    this is fantastic – thanks for all the great ideas! i had never thought to reach out to the local university to speak with an international student. really enjoy your blog also.

  11. Hannah says:

    Great ideas. Some of our best homeschooling times have come from our study of other countries — especially Japan. I need to do a little planning ahead so we can have another success thanks to your tips!
    .-= Hannah’s last blog: This is the Story =-.

  12. Netta says:

    THANK YOU! You just reminded me of the “wonderfulness” and fun of
    doing things simply. Today was one of those “pull-my hair out” kinda days
    and Jesus used your words to simply remind me of why I’m doing this
    and that I’m making things way too difficult.
    Thank you!
    Netta’s latest post: Menu Plan Monday- Jan 17- 2011

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