A Simple Continents Preschool Lesson to Introduce the World

It’s the beginning of Jamie Martin’s (from Simple Homeschool) Give Your Child the World book club! The book club goal is to read multicultural books about various parts of the globe to help our kids understand the big picture of the world. Yes, Jamie is doing this book club as a part of a promotion for her new book. But I enjoy book lists and book challenges, and I was planning on doing a basic continent overview with my daughter this summer anyway. This is truly perfect timing!

This week is the general multicultural week. My son was born overseas and has always been fascinated by maps. He’s a visual learner. When he was four, we spent weeks pouring over maps and making our own maps of our home, street, city, and so forth. But my daughter, Strawberry, is a super active preschooler. Making maps and looking at lots of different maps would be extended torture for her. Instead, our continents preschool lesson this week was quite simple and brief, but she’s remembered her place on the map (and the globe) since then!Our simple introduction to the continents included finding our spot on our globe. I think her favorite search was to figure out what street we're on, as it required a walk.

Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney is the general go-to book for such an introduction to our place in the world, mapping in general, and the fact that there are continents. There is a reason it is a go-to. It shows so clearly in steps that we have a place in a house, in a street, in a city, in a state, etc. I was not surprised that Strawberry enjoyed reading it with me. After we read it together, it was time to figure out our place “on the map.”

Finding Our Place

We began by finding her room. A few months ago Raisin made a LEGO scale model of the room, and she loved that process. Of course, finding her bedroom was not difficult for her. But to my surprise, she did not know our street name. It was time for a walk.

We headed out on a walk to the corner. We’re half-way down the street, so either way, we had 6-8 houses to walk by. Strawberry thought this was a long trek, apparently. She kept talking about our adventure, which made me laugh. Regardless, when we got to the corner, we stood across the street and read the green street sign above us. Strawberry cannot yet read, but she told me the letters on the sign and I wrote them on the correct line in the book.

Then we headed back home. As we walked, we talked about the village we live in. This is a somewhat difficult concept because we live in a highly populated area (Chicago suburbs) so all the towns blend together. We’re two blocks from the next town (where she went to preschool) and a few blocks from yet another going a different direction. I suppose for such a community as this, it’s more about the people you see day to day rather than a political boundary. At any rate, that was about the extent of map reading that Strawberry could put up with!

Finding Other Places

It was time for more stories and time for something a little more active. We got out the globe and the magnifying glass (a tool that will make any project more fun).

Spinning the globe always is fun, so once we got that out of our system, we flipped through a few library books about mapping and continents. Strawberry was delighted to learn about Antarctica (that is where the penguins live) and to hear that her big brother Raisin was born on the continent of Australia. We found the continents as the book mentioned them.

Strawberry was excited to find the continent where her brother was born.

Everything is more fun with a magnifying glass. As she looked at the globe, I read One World, One Day and A Cool Drink of Water. Both of these books have very brief text with illustrations of people from around the world. The second book is about how people access water around the world. It was fun to compare the ways those people were living and drinking to how our family lives! Strawberry liked looking for the places on the globe (for a little while).

As she was tiring of finding places on the globe, we stopped to read The Colors of Us, which is about the different colors of skin and hair that people have around the world, and even in our own country. She liked recognizing her friends’ skin colors in Karen Katz’s illustrations. Together, we decided that our skin is “peachy” like the red-haired child in the book.

Following Her Lead

I think it is important that we follow our kids’ lead on learning. I knew she was not going to be as map-happy as my son has always been. And I was right. But she did love examining the globe and asking about the different colors (the different countries). The islands especially stood out to her. I am excited to continue our learning throughout the rest of our summer. We’ll focus, ever so briefly, on the different people and places around the world during this first overview. As we do so, I know she will come to better appreciate the fact that she is not the center of the universe!

Or maybe that is a bit too much to expect from a four-year-old child?

It was a simple overview of the fact that she is a small part of a huge world. That was all she needed at this point!

I have some more ways that we’ll be learning about the world, in general, but for now, that’s all we’ve got. And I believe it is enough.

This could also be a perfect preschool lead-in to a kindergarten continent study.

More Continent Learning Ideas

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  • […] of maps. As I mentioned recently, we’re doing the #GiveYourChildTheWorld challenge, and we began by learning about our place on the map and globe. While she’s seen town maps (GPS in the car) and the world map and globe, she has not had as […]

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