Seven Continents for Kids: Activities for Learning

Some great geography learning goals for young children include, at the top of the list, a good grasp of the continents. Here’s a fun and easy way to learn about the seven continents for kids. It includes map work, book resources and a fun project. 

Learning about the seven continents for kids. Books, projects and map resources for hands-on learning.

Make a Continent Puzzle

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Take an existing wall map (laminated is best) and trace each continent. Then cut out each piece. If you have a laminator, laminate them.  Place one or two velcro dots  on the back of each piece and corresponding dots onto the wall map.

continent activities for kids: make a continent map puzzle

Kids activities for each continent:

  1. Kids match the continent piece to the wall map and stick it onto the velcro dots.
  2. Look at the continent in the Children’s Picture Atlas. We love this atlas because it does a great job illustrating all the animals that live on each continent. We then used our collection of plastic toy animals and tried to match up as many as we could for each continent.  
  3. Read the Children Just Like Me book.  This book is a bit dated, you can really see it in the 1990’s clothes, but my kids loved learning about what children do in each part of the world. There are photographs of each child’s house, family, friends, toys, favorite foods, school, and more. 

books for learning about the continents

You could do one continent per day or two or three per week, whatever fits into your routine. It took us about two weeks to get through all the continents and then we celebrated with a special project…

How to make Continent Cookies:  Hands-on geography

How to Make Continent Cookies

  1. Take the map pieces from the wall map project above. Give them a good wipe down, as these will serve as your cookie “cutters”.  If you weren’t able to laminate the pieces, but your map is already laminated, you can use that, like we did in our Australia learning unit.
  2. Mix up a basic sugar cookie recipe and give each child a ball of dough to work with, a floured surface, a rolling pin and a dull knife.
  3. Have them roll out the dough and trace around the shape of the continent with the knife.
  4. Transfer to baking tray and bake. You can ice and decorate them, too, when they come out of the oven.

Learning activities for the seven continents: Trace continents in dough and bake continent cookies

We enjoyed some of our cookies along with some tea while we read more library books about some of the kids favorite continents.  

Here’s a great little song to help kids remember the names of the continents.  

Hands on Geography: Learning the US States with Quarters

Maybe your child is learning about the names of the states this year, or perhaps just figuring out where everything is on the map for U.S. Geography.  A map and a handful of quarters is all you need for this activity. Credit goes to my 7 and 9-year-olds for coming up with this fun game.

Hands-On United States Geography

My 9-year-old was counting out some change and began to list all the state quarters that he had. State quarters? This was news to his 7-year-old sister. She grabbed her piggy bank and started examining all her quarters, too.  [Read more...]

Learning About Polar Animals

learning about polar animalsWe’ve spent a week with the polar bears, penguins and seals, with the help of our friends at Safari Ltd. We set up fun and easy habitats to go along with some great learning resources.

And, Safari Ltd has generously offerred to give away to my readers, your choice of an animal replica or one TOOB of figures, up to a $40 value. You can enter the giveaway at the end of this post.

Books and Video Resources We Used and Loved

 

Our Tacky Penguins. Craft inspiration and printable template courtesy of I Heart Crafty Things.

Our Tacky Penguins. Craft inspiration and printable template courtesy of I Heart Crafty Things.

A chunk of ice cubes from the freezer made the perfect ice floe for our polar bear to rest on, floating in the water table.

A chunk of ice cubes from the freezer made the perfect ice floe for our polar bear to rest on, floating in the water table. This is the Step2 WaterWheel Activity Play Table.  

    • National Geographic Young Explorers Listen and Read Books, penguins and polar bears. Free, on-line books. These were a big hit with my 4 and 6 year olds.
    • March of the Penguins companion book. The book is more suited for younger children, whereas the movie, showing the harsh realities of Emperor penguin life is more appropriate for older children and adults.
Shaving cream in half the water table, water and ice in the other, made a great wet habitat for our polar animals.

Shaving cream in half the  Activity Play Table,
 water and ice in the other, made a great wet habitat for our polar animals.

A plastic bin covered with white cotton material and a collection of stones and large water beads made up a dry habitat for our polar animals.

A plastic bin covered with white cotton material and a collection of stones and large water beads made up a dry habitat for our polar animals.

Love these large water beads, found in the floral section of a hobby store. They are nearly the size of eggs! They made great pretend ice and snow for our polar animal habitats. What a fun sensory experience we had with them!

Love these large water beads, found in the floral section of a hobby store. They are nearly the size of eggs! They made great pretend ice and snow for our polar animal habitats. What a fun sensory experience we had with them!

Polar Animal Science  How do polar animals stay warm?  We used Crisco shortening to simulate animal fat, a large bin of ice water and our science thermometer to find out why polar animals can swim in such frigid waters.  This experiment was inspired by Tunstall’s Teaching Tidbits .

Inserting our hand in a plastic bag, inside another bag filled with shortening, then into the icy water.

Inserting our hand in a plastic bag, inside another bag filled with shortening, then into the icy water.

For more learning ideas, visit our Polar Animals Unit Study Pinterest board.

Safari Ltd makes so many lifelike models of toys, perfect for pretend play. We’ve used them a lot in our homeschool this year and they’ve truly enhanced our learning.

Recently, we used the Safari LTD Jamestown Toob figures in our early American history studies.

Recently, we used the Safari LTD Jamestown Toob figures in our early American history studies.

Enter to win your own selection of one Safari Ltd replica or TOOB, up to a $40 value. There are so many to choose from:  horses, pirates, knights, fairies, dinosaurs, farm animals and so many more. Which one will you choose?

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I received the polar animal products pictured in this post for free from Safari Ltd in exchange for this review.

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Over on Kiwi Crate this week, we made Sparkly Shamrock Sun Catchers. Some mixing and pouring fun, with some glitter added for sparkle are decorating are windows for St. Patrick’s Day.
IMG_1321 IMG_1362 IMG_1376

Australian Unit Study

Australia Unit StudyWe’ve been Down Under for two weeks, learning about the wonderful animals and geography of Australia. We could’ve gone on for several weeks more, there’s so much to learn about this wonderful continent. Here’s a peek at some of the learning activities we did.

Australian Animals
My kids love animals and it’s a great way to introduce them to learning about a new place in the world. Since Australia has so many unique and interesting animals, we learned about one or two each day of our unit study.

Koalas

Kangaroos

Other Animals of Australia

  • Platypus:  Wild Kratts Platypus Café episode.
  • Frilled-neck Lizard: We watched a great Discovery video about these lizards. Also, it is very fun to pretend to be a frilled-neck lizard. Try it.
  • Wombat:  Nat Geo video showing a pudgy, sleepy wombat.
  • A great resource for many Australian animals are the Bindi and Robert Irwin Growing Up Wild videos on YouTube. Type in “Bindi and Robert Irwin” and the name of the animal you want to learn about.

Geography of Australia 

The Great Barrier Reef

Great Barrier Reef habitat

The Outback

Filling our water table with sand turned it into a desert and we had fun identifying which animals live there and which do not. We used the wonderful Safari LTD The Land Down Under Toob animals for this activity.

For more information on our Outback set-up, visit this post. 

handsongeographyanimalshabiats

More Geography Resources 

cookiemaps

More ways to learn about Australia:

geography magnet boardWe used a magnetic cookie sheet propped up in a cookbook holder and our magnetic letters to spell out “Australia”.  Each day, I changed the featured book and the animal cards.  You can find the free printable animal cards from Walk Beside Me.

We made good use of the section in our library that had books on various Australian animals and culture. Each day, we read the book that matched the specific animal we were learning about, as well as a book on another aspect of Australia, such as The Sydney Opera House and the Aboriginal People.

basket of books

Our handwriting practice used the words we were learning:  Australia, koala, kangaroo, coral reef and more, in the stage of handwriting for each particular child:  tracing letters for my 4 year old, printing for my 6 year old and cursive for my 8 year old. One day, we painted our words with cotton swabs.

painting handwriting

  • For cooking ideas, stop by The Educator’s Spin On It for their Around the World in 12 Dishes: Australia!
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    For even more resources, follow my Australian Unit Study pin board on Pinterest.
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    Thank you to our sponsor, Bravewriter. We’ve been using the Bravewriter program this year and it has changed the way we homeschool.

    bravewriter

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Anime Momotaro: A Japanese Folktale, at Imagination Stage

Anime Momotaro at Imagination Stage

Tia Shearer as Nakamon, Rafael Untalan as Daimon, Jacob Yeh as Momotaro, Phillip Reid as Monmon. Photo credit: Margot Schulman.

A baby inside a peach.  “Invisible” ninjas that manipulate the props. Sound effects galore. An action packed adventure and a humorous adaptation of a ancient Japanese folktale paired with the modern culture of Japanese animation. That is what Anime Momotaro is all about and more.

In the folktale, a childless couple finds a peach floating down the river. As they are about to eat it, a baby emerges. They are thrilled to raise the child they always wanted. They name him Momotaro (momo means peach in Japanese and taro is a popular boy’s name). Momotaro grows up strong and brave and decides to take on the Ogres that have been stealing things and harassing the people of his village. He sets out with a sword from his father and a bag of millet cakes from his mother. Along his journey, he shares the cakes and befriends a dog, a monkey and a pheasant. Together, the four friends travel to the Ogres’ island.

Momotaro and his mother on stage

Tia Shearer and Jacob Yeh. Photo credit: Margot Schulman.

Being a folktale, there are many versions of Momotaro, but in most, the Ogres are defeated in a violent battle at the end. In the stage production, the story was deliberately changed to emphasize the bullying aspect of the Ogres and the ending provides an alternative solution to dealing with bullies:   Friendship and cooperation triumph.

Alvin Chan and Eric Johnson adapted the folktale for the stage, first at Honolulu Theatre for Youth and now at Imagination Stage, known for its’  award-winning productions and arts education programs, located in Bethesda, Maryland.

Chan and Johnson took the modern elements of anime, such as color, sound effects, action, and movement and brought them to the stage. It is difficult to describe how very well the actors portray the cartoon elements on stage. You will just have to see for yourselves.

You don’t have to be a fan of anime to appreciate Anime Momotaro. My collective anime experiences are few, but I enjoyed this production immensely.  Like everything else I’ve seen at Imagination Stage, it was impeccably well done and highly entertaining.  Everything from the cast, to the creative team, the set and the lighting brought together a professional and polished production.

And, of course, bringing literature together with a stage production provides many learning opportunities for kids, both before and after viewing.

To learn more about Japan…

To learn more about the character traits of Anime Momotaro…

  • Read  the story of Momotaro  prior to the show. We talked about the messages in the story and Momotaro’s strong character traits: honoring his parents, helping his community, sharing with his friends and working together to help solve a problem.

  • Investigate bullying and identify your heroes with the study guide from the creators of Anime Momotaro.
Anime Momotaro (Peach Boy) at Imagination Stage

Tia Shearer, Jacob Yeh and Phillip Reid. Photo credit: Margot Schulman.

Anime Momotaro runs at Imagination Stage in Bethesda, Maryland from January 30 through March 10, 2013. Best for ages 5 to 10. Tickets are $12 to $25 and may be purchased on line at www.imaginationstage.org. Group rates and sensory friendly performances are available.

03 Ogres AnimeMomotaro IStage

Phillip Reid and Tia Shearer. Photo credit: Margot Schulman.

 Imagination Stage provided me with tickets to the show.  All opinions are my own. This post contains affiliate links for books from Amazon. For my full disclosure policy, click here