Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Our Giant World Map

So, this is old news to anyone who has been to our house, especially in the kitchen, but I don't care. I still love that we did this and are doing it.

Months ago, we bought a laminated world map- a giant one, it almost takes up a whole wall in the kitchen. We debated on several places... should it go in the living room, we thought? But there ended up being no wall space it would fit on other than the kitchen, right above the table where we eat all our meals. At first, when it showed up in the mail and we unrolled it, I kind of regretted going SO BIG and putting it in the kitchen. I mean, you have no choice but to look at it. But it ended up being an awesome idea.

It is so big, you can see teeny tiny countries and islands that otherwise go unnoticed or forgotten. Chris and I started using stickers to mark places we have been so far. We daydream about where we want to go next. We think out loud, "oh wow, is that where that is?" We learn from it all the time- you can't NOT learn from it, when it is right there in front of you as a backdrop to your cereal or pasta. Since it is laminated, when the kids inevitably get food on it, I can just wipe it clean. I can also use dry erase markers on it, which can be wiped clean as well.

To begin giving the kids an idea of how vast the world is (Aurelia mainly for now, but I plan to do the same with Azrael) I told her we are "theeeeese small" and "located riiight here" pointing on the map at Pennsylvania. I'm not sure if she really gets it just yet, but that's ok, she will. I also taught her between 25-30 different animals. What they eat, what they look like, where they live, etc.

I would teach a few animals a week, going at her pace and using books on each animal I found at the library. I would photocopy a picture of each, tape it to cardstock for sturdiness, and we taped each one to the map over time. All those animals are still there, and periodically we talk about various ones over breakfast. She can now tell me where Africa is, China, Australia, North and South America, the Arctic and Antarctica, etc.

Now that she knows close to 30 animals, I also plan on finding books that discuss different cultures around the world, and putting it into context in a similar way. Of course, I am keeping it fairly simple for her (she IS only 2.) I use lots of pictures and only give her a few simple facts about each animal/topic that I feel she is able to retain.

I can't wait to really get my use out of this map- it is going to be COVERED by the time we are done with it haha.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Public Library

At least once a week, I take the kids to the Phoenixville Public Library. As libraries go, it is the best one I have been to. The kids section of it is spacious but also has lots of nooks and crannies for kids to sit down alone or with a friend. They have a train table, a great selection of books, music, and movies, and computer areas where the computers are geared towards kids who want to play learning games or search for materials. There are tables to sit at and read or talk with other adults or eat lunch. There is a whole schedule of programs to participate in- yoga, story-times and play-times for the younger crowd, LEGO, video game, and board-game get-togethers and movie nights for older kids. Signing up is not usually required (they do have special nature and science programs that require registration.) Most everything is free (or really, you already paid in taxes) except for movie rentals and some of the programs that require registration. The staff is wonderful- all very good with small children. The adult section of the library is pretty great too, but I don't get up there often enough as I usually am wrangling two small kids and sometimes an unwieldy stroller. 

Chris likes to say we are really making the most of our tax dollars with how much we use the library, and I agree. When I go (like I mentioned, at least once a week) we get a stack of new books out, return the ones we've read, and stick around for the story/play-times. The kids are read various short stories, they sing and dance in between the stories, and sometimes there is a craft. I will be sharing some of the crafts in future posts- I think they can be adapted to help teach various lessons for different ages, so I want to keep track of them here for future reference. 

Does anyone else use their public library? What other free kid-friendly places or events do you frequent?