Becky Morales — educator, mother and founder of KidWorldCitizen — and I are teaming up to bring you a series of Read Around the World Storytime posts in which we recommend great books and activities for teaching kids about countries around the world. We will recommend books that are fun to read aloud and activities that are simple enough for librarians and teachers to implement in a single session with a group of kids.
All of the book and activities we recommend will be perfect for kids ages five to ten. I will include alternative book recommendations for kids ages three to four when necessary.
KidWorldCitizen is a fairly new and yet very impressive blog cholk-full of activities for teaching kids about countries around the world. At KidWorldCitizen, Becky Morales shares activities that are both fun and substantive. For example, in a haiku post, Becky explains the origin of the haiku, recommends children’s books about Japanese poet Matsuo Basho, and encourages children to try writing a haiku.
We are kicking off our Read Around the World Storytime Series today with book recommendations and an activity about maps!
Our schedule for the entire Read Around the World Storytime Series is:
- September – Maps
- October – Africa
- November – South America
- December – The Arctic
- January – Asia I – China, Japan, and Korea
- February – Asia II – The Middle East (e.g. Afganistan, Iraq, and Lebanon) and Southeast Asia (e.g. India, Thailand, and Indonesia)
- March – Europe, including Russia
- April – Australia
- May – Kids Around the World
Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney and Annette Cable. Me on the Map is useful for explaining to kids how big the world is. The narrator begins by showing kids how she draws a map of her room. She then pans out to draw maps of progressively larger areas — her house, her street, her town, etc. Near the end of the book, there is a map of the world, with drawings of kids from different countries on the map. The narrator explains “…in rooms, in houses, on streets, in towns, in countries all over the world, everybody has their own special place on the map.” Ages 4+
Mapping Penny’s World by Loreen Leedy. In this introduction to maps, a girl named Lisa makes maps of various places her dog Penny hangs out, from her bedroom, to her neighborhood, to a park. This book concludes with a map of the world, with all of the places Lisa and Penny plan to visit. Mapping Penny’s World was one of my son’s favorite books when he was five. He enjoyed the jokes about Penny as well as the information about maps. Ages 4+
Nine O’Clock Lullaby by Marilyn Singer and Frane Lessac. Nine O’Clock Lullaby describes scenes from around the world happening at the same time that the child narrator is going to bed. The story begins “9 P.M. in Brooklyn, New York, is…10 P.M. in Puerto Rico…” My kids were fascinated to learn that the time of day changes as you travel around the globe. Ages 4+
Tip: For kids ages three to four, consider skipping this month’s subject (maps) and beginning with next month’s subject (Africa). Alternatively, kick off your Read Around the World Storytime series by reading books that introduce kids to the fact that the world is a diverse and fascinating place, such as “Nine O’Clock Lullaby” by Marilyn Singer, “Toot and Puddle” by Holly Hobbie and “One World, One Day” by Barbara Kerley.
After reading Me on the Map by Joan Sweeney, it’s time to begin your geography craft! This simple project requires a bit of preparation but does not require many materials. Each child will make their own craft and will take home a personalized “Me on the Map” booklet that will help them understand how their community fits in the world.
For each child, you will need:
- 3 sheets of colored paper
- crayons or markers
- clip art outlines of your state, country and continent (optional)
- gold stars (optional)
1. First, have your children stack their pages into a pile. Shift each of the pages an inch above the others so that the colors are separated.
2. Next, fold the top half down so that 6 different sections are visible. Staple across the top so that each child has a collated booklet.
3. On each of the tabs, your children will either write the following titles (in whichever language they choose) or cut out the titles and paste them on the appropriate pages. If you choose to have your children cut and paste the titles, here are titles that you can print out in English and Spanish.
- My house (Mi casa)
- My city (Mi ciudad)
- My state (Mi estado)
- My country (Mi país)
- My continent (Mi continente)
- My planet (Mi planeta)
4. On the individual pages, your children will choose to either draw a representative picture or use map templates that you provide.
Tip: To find printable outlines of states or countries, perform Google image searches for “_________ map coloring page” (e.g. “France map coloring page“).
If you are making copies for an entire class, fit the clip art maps onto a single page for copying. Then your children can cut apart the maps to use in their projects.
Let your children choose what they will draw to represent the categories! For example, to represent our city, my four children each drew completely different things: a park, a bayou, several buildings from the downtown, and a soccer field.
Children who know their complete address can work with an adult to add these specific details to each page. Provide gold stars as an option for children to mark their location on the state, country and continent maps…and even on the planet page.
This easy geography project helps children learn how they and their community are connected to the wider world.
You may also be interested in:
- Map Your Backyard or Playground for a Treasure Hunt
- Where in the World is Your Food From?
- Kids, Take a Poll: “Which States/Countries Have You Visited?”
- Give Your Children the World: 5 Unique Maps
- Read Around the World – Educational Resources