Children love maps. They’re so interesting and children love to know where they are and where other places are in relation to them. Over the past five and a half weeks we’ve been testing out Drawing Around The World: Europe by Brookdale House.
We received a 256 page PDF download that includes everything you’ll need to print, as well as links to online resources to use to complete the assignments. It’s pretty much just print-and-go!
The lessons are set up to be used four times a week. One day one the children learn about a new country (or three). They trace the outline of it and look up some facts about it; population, resources, area, capital city, etc. On days two and three they trace all of the countries they’ve learned on a map, and then draw them from memory on another page. Day four sees them doing the above, plus writing the countries learned on a list.
One interesting way suggested for helping the children learn the countries is to look at the outline and see what they think it looks like. For Georgia, Tristan thought that it looked like a seal! I think he’s right. He looked up photos of seals to find out if they had a tail and to see where the eyes were placed on the head. Extendable learning is great.
To save on printing costs, instead of printing out the same pages for days 2-4 each week, we used their suggestion and printed one of each map (outline and blank) and put them in a sheet protector. The children were then able to reuse them each day and simply wipe them off.
Day 1 takes the longest time because you need to look up the information and write it down. Some days this took 30 minutes, other days it took an hour. It was dependant on the children’s moods. Sometimes they were frustrated that their handwriting wasn’t very good and it took longer. But they are just 5 & 7, still a little young for this product. However, once the writing was done, they really enjoyed everything else!
Days 2-4 only took about 5-10 mins, so it was easy to fit it in just before morning snack time.
After the first couple of weeks of my guiding the children on what to do, they can now do everything themselves. They use my tablet to access the website with all of the information on it, and find it all themselves. On the other days they can just pick up their papers, and show me the finished results.
This way of mapping Europe is an easy concept, but it does work. I love that my children are not just enjoying it, but putting their knowledge into practice. A neighbour showed us photos of birds he’s seen recently, and which ones to look out for in the garden. He mentioned that the brambling was a winter visitor from Scandinavia. My children knew where Scandinavia was and could visualise how far the birds were travelling.
Some weeks there are up to 3 countries to learn about, but for my children at the moment, that would be too much to do at once so they’re only doing one country a week. But it’s easy to be flexible. There are many ways that it could be possible to build on the mapping skills as well, which will fit right in with what I have planned for January.
My only reservation about this product is that when they learn Russia, the map only shows the European part of Russia, not the entire country. This means that children aren’t able to learn the whole country-how large it really is, and it’s true shape. I understand this is mapping Europe and Russia spills over to Asia, but I do think to be true, Russia should be done in its entirely.
Overall, this is a good product and is working well for our family. The children are learning about the countries around them, as well as using fine-motor skills. I like the hands-on approach and the fact that most days it doesn’t take long to complete, which means we can continue to use this even when things get busy. Days 2-4 are so easy to take along with us if we’re on the move.
Brookdale House also has several other products, including Drawing Around The World: USA. Making our choice for this review was difficult. Go check them out for more products in history and grammar. If you’d like to see example pages of these products, you can find links to them here.
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