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 are recommending 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.
Last month, we brought you book recommendations and an activity to teach kids about Africa. The month before that, we brought you book recommendations and an activity to teach kids about maps. Today, we have book recommendations and an activity to teach kids about South America.
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
Waiting for the Bibliburro by Monica Brown. A beautifully written story about a young Colombian girl Ana who waits expectantly for the arrival of the biblioburro — two burros that carry a traveling library. While the story is fictional, the biblioburro and librarian Luis Soriano Bohorquez really exist. Waiting for the Biblioburro is a fun and fascinating story to share with children. Ages 4+
The Rainforest Grew All Around by Susan Mitchell and Connie McLellan. An adaptation of the song The Green Grass Grew All Around that introduces kids to the Amazon Rainforest. A Rainforest Grew All Around is a cumulative rhyme that is very fun to read aloud. This book contains a recipe for rainforest cookies that would be a fun addition to a South American storytime. Ages 3+
Cassio’s Day: From Dusk to Dawn in a Brazilian Village by Maria de Fatima Campos. In a straightforward manner, Cassio’s Day describes six-year-old Cassio eating breakfast, going to school, playing with friends, celebrating his father’s birthday, and going to bed. Cassio has a full day, which includes stops to watch a woman in his village make cheese and to watch a man in his village make a basket. Ages 6+
Tip: If you are reading to a group of younger kids, consider replacing “Cassio’s Day” with “Looking Closely in a Rainforest” by Frank Serafini or “Fernando’s Gift” by Douglas Keister.
Looking Closely in the Rainforest by Frank Serafini. An introduction to rainforest plants and animals, with a simple but captivating format. On one page readers see a small portion of a rainforest plant or animal and are asked to guess what it is, and on the following page readers see the entire rainforest plant or animal. My kids love all of Frank Serafini’s Looking Closely…books. Ages 2+
Fernando’s Gift by Douglas Keister. An engaging, true story about a boy and his family who live in and work to preserve the Costa Rican rainforest. After Fernando and his friend Carmina discover that their favorite climbing tree has been cut down, Fernando gives Carmina a tree for her birthday. Note: Fernando’s Gift is set in Central rather than South America. Ages 3+
Look at a globe or world map, and find the equator. The area from a little north to a little south of the equator is called the tropics. Most of the world’s rainforests are located in the tropics, where the climate is warm and wet. If you look at the tropical areas of Central and South America, you will find the region where morpho butterflies live.
Blue morpho butterflies are large butterflies that use their shiny, iridescent blue wings to blind and scare away predators such as birds, fish and spiders. When they close their beautiful turquoise wings, these butterflies reveal brown camouflage on the underside of their wings with “eye” patterns that enable them to blend into tree bark and hide. Most of the time, blue morpho butterlies stay near the forest floor with their wings folded up.
Blue morpho butterflies use their antennae to smell the air for rotting fruit. When they find rotting fruit, they use the sensors on their legs to taste it. To drink juices from the fruit, they uncurl their proboscises. A probiscus is the long, skinny part of a butterfly’s mouth that acts like a straw!
Making a blue morpho butterfly is a fun activity that helps kids learn about this amazing creature. Kids love crafts, love glitter and love butterflies, and this beautiful art project helps bring alive the butterfly seen in the books you have read about the Central and South American rainforests.
To make your own morpho butterfly, you will need:
- a paper plate for each child
- blue and turquoise tissue paper
- black paint
1. First, draw a big V at the top and a little v at the bottom of each paper plate as seen in the picture. Cut on the lines you have drawn to make the outline of your morpho butterfly.
2. Next, tear the blue and turquoise tissue paper into small pieces and glue the pieces onto the butterfly’s body. Once the butterfly has been covered in blue tissue paper, use black paint to outline the body and add details to the wings. I like to show children pictures of real blue morpho butterflies for inspiration.
3. Finally, paint a bit of glue onto the butterfly and sprinkle silver glitter on top to make the butterfly appear to have iridescent wings. My children decided to add white paper dots from our hole puncher to their morpho butterflies after noticing that morpho butterflies have white dots on the tips of their wings.
Have fun making your mariposa morfo!
You may also be interested in:
- Make Brazilian pao de queijo (cheese rolls).
- Make miniature figures from Ecuadorian migajon clay.
- Make a Chilean snack from bread, avacado and lemon!
- Create a rainforest diorama.
- Bake rainforest cookies.
For more activities to teach kids about countries around the world, check out educator Becky Morales’ amazing blog KidWorldCitizen!