Teaching Children About the World

We’ve all seen the pictures on Facebook ‘Please show my class how far this photo can go round the world’, you comment with your location and that’s that, it’s not teaching them anything about these locations, I guess you just end up as a dot on a map?  To be honest, I tend to ignore these completely.  However, last week I received some mail from my little bro-in-law in the States, his Pre-K class at Elementary School were doing a project and I threw myself into it whole heartedly!

As it’s coming up to Christmas, the class had decorated Gingerbread Men to send to their friends and family around the country/world along with a letter.  The letter asked the receiver to send a short letter back saying where the Gingerbread Man had ended up, mentioning any bodies of water or mountains that were near by, what the weather was like in that place around Christmas time (even in just America this is obviously hugely varied due to the size of the country!),the type of hobbies you have and if possible, a photo with you holding the Gingerbread Man.

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As the class are only little kids, I wanted to make it as visual as possible.  I also included a simple world map pointing out Iowa and my town in England to show how far away I am and a photo of a purple linseed field and windmill near to my house (Iowa predominently grows corn, so a purple field is a little different!)

Bocking Windmill, Essex

 

My biggest hobby is obviously travel!  My recent trip to Barcelona coincided perfectly with the letter arriving and the last international posting day before Christmas so I took the Gingerbread Man away with me and made a simple collage to include too!

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(Starting from top left: 1. On the plane 2. Flying over Essex, UK…so they can see roughly what it looks like where I live from above! 3. At the beach in Barcelona with the Mediterranean Sea 4. Outside the Sagrada Familia Church)

I’d love to be in the class when they receive all the mail back, it’d be fascinating to see where the others ended up.  This particular activity is also a lot more personal than just chucking a picture on social media and seeing its audience, as every ‘story’ will be connected to the child.

If I have children in the future, I know for a fact that I’ll be teaching them all about the UK (and the world!).  Especially in my situation where I’ll be a Brit living in a different country, I think it’s important for them to know their background.  I hope if they grow up knowing about cultural differences, it’ll be something that they consider normal and maybe it’ll inspire them to embrace the world rather than just living in the comfort bubble of the country in which they live.  When I first met my little, little, In-Laws, they never once mentioned that I spoke ‘funny’, so maybe they’ll grow up being accepting to the fact that people are different, yet we’re all just the same.  This little school project was nice for me because even though I’m so far away and they hardly see me, I could still be part of their lives.

Even before I took my first flight (at the age of 11), when I was in Primary School, I remember the book fair coming round, it was a bit like a mobile book shop where your parents would give you a bit of money and you could choose a book to buy.  I bought an Atlas, that I still have today!  I guess the need to see the world has always been inside of me and now I just want to inspire others to ‘get out there’ too.  It’s an amazing place 🙂

Kudos to the teacher of my brother-in-law’s class for starting them early!

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