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The Olympics are a perfect time to “travel” the world as a family. We homeschool so every 2 years when the Olympics roll around again we do an intensive geography study; highlighting a different country each school day. I wanted to share with you how we do that. Even if your family doesn’t homeschool you may find some ways that your family can “travel” the world together during the Olympics so keep reading. 😉
Guess the country:
We start each school day during the Olympics with clues. I’ll post notes around the house with hints about the country we will be “visiting” that day. It could be facts, pictures, a page number and title of a book that they will find the country’s name in. Then when they know where we are “going” they let me know.
You can have your children compete to see who can answer the quickest or have them work together as a team. This year I’ll actually be sending the clues via text message instead of posting them around the house. I’m hoping that will help our college student still enjoy one of our favorite family traditions.
Grab your “luggage”:
Once they figure out where we are “headed,” I reveal to them where they can find their “luggage.”
Their luggage is actually a natural gable treat box. Each child gets their own and reuses it everyday. You could really use anything, even actual luggage if you wanted to. On the outside of the box we’ll be gluing stamps or pictures to represent the country we visited. You could do a passport instead if you wanted.
What’s inside their “luggage” varies each day.
- I do my best to find some kind of snack or candy from the country. I find most of them at my local grocery store, but will order some from Amazon as well. If you have a World Market where you live you might have some luck there too.
- There also might be some kind of activity pertaining to that country. During the Olympics in Sochi we painted nesting dolls, which ended up being a really special memory. I even still have them.
- Pictures, postcards, souvenirs, or even flashcards are all great things to pack in their “luggage” as well.
Next we explore the country through books, videos, and pictures.
Some of my favorite resources for exploring are:
- YouTube – Virtual tours give you the sense of being there yourself.
- Google Earth – Search a certain landmark, then change the view to street view.
- Google Images- I like searching Google for pictures of the country’s landscape.
- “Families of” DVDs – We found many of these at our library. They are slightly dated but go through the day of families from a child’s perspective. It is interesting to see the similarities and the differences in our daily lives around the world.
- Window on the World – not every country is listed in this book, but for the many that are information is listed about how people live and their religions. It is also full of pictures of people from around the world.
- Picture Atlas of the World – This book is full of pictorial maps and facts.
- Children’s Illustrated World Atlas – Easy to read maps, beautiful pictures and a flag index in the back.
When we finish exploring we dive into an activity.
This year we’ll be painting flag rocks for each country.
Here are some other ideas for activities:
- Build landmarks out of Legos.
- Make paper lanterns.
- Design a centerpiece for the evening dinner.
- Make placemats for dinner. We used to make these on the computer. We would put games, facts, and jokes on them.
- Play a geography game. The 10 Days games are some of our favorites. I was sad to see they aren’t being produced anymore. If you happen to find them used somewhere, they are a great, fun tool for learning geography. Another game we enjoy is Famous Landmarks Bingo, which is great for younger elementary kids too.
- Work a puzzle. – We like The Global Puzzle. You could also work a puzzle of that country or one of their landmarks.
Perhaps the highlight of the entire day though is dinner.
We make an authentic, or at least as close as we can to an authentic meal from the country we have been “visiting”. We enjoy trying the different foods and some have been added to our family’s favorites. Others we tasted and decided to make a sandwich instead, but we still enjoyed the experience. 😉
How do I find the recipes? I do some online research about popular dishes in each country then I set out to find recipes. Most recipes I find via Pinterest. (I love Pinterest.) I’ll be pinning most of the recipes we try during the Olympics, if you would like to follow that board. We also use Eat Your Way Around the World as a resource. It has recipes and fun food facts.
That basically wraps up how we “travel” around the world during the Olympics. I shared my plan for “visiting” South Korea if you would like to see what a day looks like to help you plan your travels.
There are a couple more Olympic related memories worth mentioning though:
Opening Ceremony –
- We always start our study with the host country. So we eat our authentic dinner while we watch the Opening Ceremony together. If you haven’t seen the Olympic Opening Ceremonies you should give it a try this year. Each competing country’s athletes parade in together waving their flag. It’s long but interesting. 😉 The hosting country, which is South Korea this year, performs as well. This part is usually very entertaining and educational.
- There is also a Closing Ceremony at the end of the Olympics.
Watch your favorite events –
- Cheering your country or favorite athletes on together is a great way to make memories. Here is a schedule so you don’t miss your favorite events.
Play some Olympic games –
- Have some fun playing some of these Winter Olympic games as a family.
Enjoy some of your own Winter Olympic activities together:
- Go skiing, snowboarding, or ice skating.
- Attend a hockey game.
- Go sledding, even if it is technically not an Olympic sport. 😉
Do some educational activities together:
- Keep track of how many medals each country has won so far. Maybe updating each evening together.
- The Ultimate Geography and Timeline Guide has a great worksheet to do during the Olympics. It also has more suggestions of ways to incorporate the study of geography into the Olympics and is one of my favorite geography resources.
Watch movies based around the Winter Olympics:
I hope you have been inspired to make some memories with your family this Olympic season.
Do you have any fun traditions your family shares during the Olympics?