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Category: Social Studies

Since we’re starting our history lessons and the first parts of the world we’re learning about is the Fertile Crescent and Egypt, I picked up this Africa & The Middle East GeoPuzzle. Wow, this is one cool puzzle! At first glance it looks like it might be too hard for a kindergartner, but then I saw it was only 65 pieces and it was meant for ages 4-104.

Sure enough, it was perfect for Satori! And mom and dad too! We all loved putting this puzzle together. I was not allowed to touch the puzzle (Satori’s orders), but we talked our way through it.

For our first time putting the puzzle together, the puzzle cover came in handy. After Satori finished the edges and the water areas, it was time to tackle the countries. Each piece is shaped like that individual country, colored brightly and most are sized generously (very tiny countries were grouped with another country). So it was easy to  start with one big country and work our way around the continent. All I would do was call out the name of the next country and Satori would zero in on it, repeating the country name after me. Great initial exposure to the country names!

Here’s Satori putting in the very last piece of the puzzle. This is a puzzle we’ll do dozens of times for sure, learning more each time.

This was such a hit, I’ll get the rest of the series as we get to those parts of the world in our  history program: GeoPuzzles U.S. and Canada, Europe, Asia (covers Australia), and Latin America.

In just one week Satori and I will resume our history lessons. This time we’ll be including some mapwork, so in preparation for such maps, this December I gave Satori a refresher on map and geography basics. The below book was an excellent overview of the world, with tons of pictures and colorful maps – from the Usborne Children’s Picture Atlas.

This introduced us to the world with simple descriptions of geographic areas, culture, animals, transportation, etc… Images on the bottoms of the page where shown where we could then look for them on the maps in the back.

Satori had a great time searching for everything! She got a great intro to all the continents and oceans of the world.

We used our Rand McNally Schoolhouse Beginner Geography & Map Activities workbook to learn more about reading and understanding maps.

While we are still on Christmas break, Mom has some fun interactive ways to expand on our knowledge of maps and the world. Stay tuned for those activities.

Satori and I celebrated Earth Day 2009 today. Once I told her that Earth Day was a holiday, she got very excited and said we can help keep the earth healthy! Exactly the point my dear. 🙂

We discussed ways we can keep the earth healthy and clean and then after dinner we made the earth. Of course I got a chance to throw in a geography lesson. 🙂 We’re going over the 7 continents this week as part of our new phase of homeschooling (more about that later), so I whipped up a quick project, only figuring out what to make as I scrimmaged around in our craft room.

Foam Earth

  • Foam sheets in blue, green, white, brown (we lucked out and had some blue foam circles lying around)
  • Scissors
  • Glue
  • String

Foam Earth supplies

Foam Earth supplies

To start, I very roughly cut out some basic continent shapes. Most of the continents were green shapes, with Antarctica being white. Satori ran to get her tiny earth globe, and then glued the first side of continents, matching up the shapes to her globe. She pasted Antarctica on the bottom before even getting her globe though!

Pasting continents on earth

Pasting continents on earth

After all continents were glued on, we looked at our globe, decided to add Greenland as another white land mass. Then to demonstrate a few mountain ranges, we also glued on brown strips to add more dimension (and color) to our earth!

Side 1 was North America, South America and Antarctica.

side 1

side 1

Side 2 was Europe, Asia, Australia, Africa, and Antarctica again.

side 2

side 2

Remember that this was a last-minute project, I very roughly cut out the continents, and gave Satori the liberty to paste them on as she saw fit. So things may not be totally geographically accurate and to scale. 😉

As you can see, we punched a hole and strung it up for it to twirl around and remind us of our beautiful and wondrous earth!

I decided to start exploring history with Satori and make it come alive for her. We’ll be doing archaeological digs, building pyramids, replicating the Nile river to name a few things in just the first few months! I’m designing my own curriculum based on many different history resources – history picture books, story books, go-along books, and much more. I have a rough draft of the first 12 lessons and if anyone is interested, I can share the lessons once they’re finalized. Our program which we’ll start this spring  is geared for 4-8 year olds, just like FIAR. I know that the Five in a Row program encompasses history, but I thought it would be easier to learn all this in a chronological order, starting with Ancient times.

Here’s some of the resources we’ll be using:

The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History

The Usborne Internet Linked Encyclopedia of World History

A Little History of the World

A Little History of the World


Story of the World


The past few days I’ve gotten numerous requests on how I made the passport we’ve used for Satori. We use it for almost every Five in a Row book we read and it is fun to look back and see all the places we’ve “visited”!

Pretend Passport

Pretend Passport

Here’s what I used, with their country-neutral template. It is actually a Five in a Row inspired play passport to boot!

Passport and stamp templates

They suggest laminating the cover, and at the time I didn’t want to hassle with it, so I just took 3 strips of packing tape. 🙂

The passport includes a page where you can personalize your information just like in a real passport.

Passport personal information

Passport personal information

They have great passport country stamp templates, and have many FIAR country stamps, here’s a few:


Other links I found:

United States Passport

US State Seals – to personalize your passport

Word Flags

Google images of Passport Stamps

Date Stamping your Pretend Passport

Some of you also asked how I stamped the date stamp on our entries. This was a date stamper with multiple stamping templates I used for my business. It’s probably more expensive than you’d want to spend, but there are simpler date stampers for just a few dollars out there! Or, I’ve listed above some great date stamps that you can print out as well.

Date Stamper

Date Stamper

One of my favorite parts in rowing FIAR is when Satori learns her geography. (And mama learns a lot too!) Today we learned about Venice, Italy, the way its streets are made of water, gondolas, and its flag.

First, we Google Earthed Italy, and then Venice. Eek, you can see how dusty my laptop is, but on the bright side, you get a little cutie’s face peering back at you!

Google Earth - Venice, Italy

Google Earth - Venice, Italy

And a better look. Hmmm, Venice looks like a boot itself!


We really zoomed in and saw lots of boats, which I assume were gondolas.  Both Satori and I found it fascinating to explore the city this way! I’d never been to Italy, only the gondola ride in Las Vegas. Which of course, being the techies we are, we YouTubed a gondola ride at the Venetian, Las Vegas. (If you hit YouTube earlier on this particular day (April 1), you were in for a surprise.)  So we not only got to feel we were on a gondola ride, we got to hear the gondolier’s singing!

Okay… now I’m really ready for a vacation!

Then, we pulled out our interactive globe and I asked Satori to find Italy, and I had never shown it to her on a globe before. She zeroed right in! All I explained early was that Italy was in Europe, was near France, and looked like a boot sticking in the Mediterranean sea. It is pretty easy to spot, but I was pretty proud of my 4 year old to find it on the globe right away. 🙂


Italy on globe

As always, when we study a new country, we love to make its flag. In our Papa Piccolo book, there was a handy flag illustrated, so we knew what the Italy flag looks like. After she drew it with crayons for her lapbook, I cut out some colored paper scraps and made a little puzzle for her to put together.


Italy Flag "puzzle"

It was a no-brainer to finish.

Making Italy flag

Making Italy flag

As always, when we finish a flag and tape it on a stick to wave around, Satori complains that it doesn’t wave like a REAL FLAG and pouts. Oh well.

We got to enter Venice, Italy on our passport, and I stamped it with today’s stamp.

Satori's Passport - Venice, Italy entry (Apr 01, 2009)

Satori's Passport - Venice, Italy entry (Apr 01, 2009)

You may have noticed I mentioned “lapbook” up there when yesterday I specifically said we wouldn’t be doing a lapbook. 🙂 I forgot about the free site and all its lapbook goodies, lots of great learning tools and go-alongs for FIAR books! It’s a wonderful way for Satori to look back and remember everything we learned when rowing a book. HomeschoolShare (HSS) just isn’t good at being listed in Google for some reason (I guess I only looked at the first page of google search returns for papa piccolo fiar). Anyway, we will be doing a simple yet informative Papa Piccolo lapbook this week. And here’s our start!

Papa Piccolo lapbook

Papa Piccolo lapbook

Just as predicted, we woke up today to a cold, blustery day with SNOW! The power even went out a few times, making our first rowing of Katy and the Big Snow even more relevant. At first I was a little worried about Satori not enjoying rowing this book 5 times, it being about a snowplow, but I have a whole week of fun things planned to bring the story alive for her. There was much more to learn in Social Studies than I imagined, so we might have to break this up into two parts.

After our first reading, we colored our lapbook cover page and then did a few lapbook entries. Here is a description of what Katy does in the summer (repair roads) and winter (plow roads). Satori has always enjoyed filling in the letters, and she has improved a thousand-fold since she first attempted copying letters in February.


Next we learned about important jobs in a typical city, what makes cities run smoothly. Hospitals, fire station, post office, school, library, etc… Both the community helpers (people) and their buildings and vehicles all play a part. If one goes down, it can spell trouble for a city.


Then we learned about different road signs and as we drive around this week, I’ll be pointing out typical road signs. I also want to show her the power lines that “connect” a city with electricity and telephone service. We made cute little signs and stuck them in clay piles. Tomorrow they should be dry and we can use them in our Katy and the Big Snow reenactment!


Then we filled out the map of Geopolis. This will be a good review for Math Day, as the book has all its buildings by number on the map.


Satori enjoyed herself and did not want to stop her “learning”. 🙂