Saturday, July 25, 2015

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada

Every summer vacation, I pretend to take a trip around the world with my kids. Why? Because I'm crazy and like to create work for myself? Maybe. But also because it's educational and gives us something to do in the afternoons. Click here if you want to know more about how it all started.

This week, we learned all about Canada! I'll include links and printables for those of you who want to recreate this whole crazy trip-around-the-world experiment with your own kids (this post includes my affiliate link, meaning that a percentage of your purchase goes to me if you buy through a link on this site.)


Monday


The kids found Canada on our big wall map and filled out a page of their passports. Area-wise, it's the 2nd biggest country in the world.


If you want to download the passport pages, click here.

They already knew what the Canadian flag looked like, but we pulled one up on Google anyway just to make sure they got the right number of points on the maple leaf.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

While they were coloring it, I read to them from Our Flag: The Story of Canada's Maple Leaf by Ann-Maureen Owens and Jane Yealland. Then we listened to Canada's national anthem, mostly because we used to put one of my kid's names to that tune when she was a baby and we wanted her to hear it.

We read M Is For Maple by Mike Ulmer (but honestly, I was a little disappointed in this book) and watched Countries Around the World: Canada from Schlessinger Media. I love this video series because their short length and made-for-the-classroom POV is perfect for our purposes.

(We've gotten many videos from the library that looked great but turned out to be ultra-boring travel videos all about hotels and train fares, but have never gone wrong with these videos from Schlessinger Media.)

I had the brilliant idea to have the kids assemble puzzles of the provinces and territories of Canada, and I was going to make them myself.

Obviously I'd never looked closely at a map before deciding to copy it out 4 times and attempted to cut out all the little weird-shaped islands...

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This is what a glutton for punishment looks like.

I left the 3-year-old's map intact and she just colored it.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
So festive!

I gave the older 3 their pieces in a Ziploc bag and they started laying them out on pieces of construction paper.

It would be an understatement to say my 9-year-old freaked out when the window A/C unit started furiously blowing away all of her carefully-placed pieces!

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Ta-da! Finished.

The kids got extra iPad/computer time to either play Tap Quiz Maps (a free geography app on the iPad that I love) or these free online Canada map puzzles. They're so hard-up for screen time they'll even play educational stuff!

I also left out a copy of Only in Canada! by Vivien Bowers. My older kids like those books with 1,001 facts, but I can't stand to read to them because they're just SO LONG and there's no story at all.

For dinner we grilled burgers (and found that wasps had built a nest in our grill AGAIN) and made poutine, a French Canadian side of fries, cheese curds, and beef gravy. Phillip was literally too shocked to speak when I told him I'd never tried a cheese curd before, even though I grew up in Minnesota.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Called 3 grocery stores and 2 farms stands before I found someone who carried cheese curds in New England. I'm insane.


Tuesday


The baby screamed through this 9-minute history of Canada so I wasn't in the room much, but I'm told it was very educational.

We talked a little about the French influence in Canada, particularly Quebec, and then I put on Brainy Baby: French. Okay, so technically it's for babies and toddlers, but do you know what? I'm not ashamed to say that I learned plenty of basic French words from it!

(I will warn you however, that the word for 'doll' is 'poupée,' and if you're watching with anyone over the age of 6 the similarity with the English word "poopy" will not be lost on them. It'll be really hard to reel them back in after that, and you might just give up. You've been warned.)

Going along with Canadian history, I also gave the older two a copy of The Last Safe House by Barbara Greenwood to read about the slaves who escaped to Canada via the Underground Railroad.

For dinner, we tried a meat pie called tourtière. Phillip was gracious enough to make the pie crusts for me ahead of time. 

I was so tired I didn't even notice I'd grabbed cake pans instead of pie pans until he pointed it out. Oops.  

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
It's cake  I mean, pie!

The recipe we tried is here, but I'd Google another one if I were you. It was so salty and greasy that it made my son (who ate the most of it) feel queasy that night. That can't be right.


The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This was just the appetizer for the antacids we all needed to take after dinner.

Since tourtière is traditionally eaten in French Canada on Christmas Eve, I also let the kids watch this silly YouTube over dinner:




Wednesday


Today we read The Sugaring Off Party by Jonathan London and learned how to make maple syrup in pictures here.

We took a walk and collected maple leaves of all different sizes. When we got home, I showed the kids how to do leaf rubbings. I was shocked that none of them had ever done a leaf rubbing. That's pretty much all I ever did in kindergarten! Public education these days is apparently not what it used to be.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

It's easy: just peel the wrapper off a crayon, place a leaf underneath the paper, and rub the sideways crayon hard over the surface.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
As you can see, they went a little nuts once they got the hang of it.
The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

This was probably my favorite day, partially because all the maple leaf talk was the perfect excuse to have pancakes with maple syrup for dinner. It's not a cop-out, it's part of a theme, people.


Thursday


We introduced some of Canada's animals with Wildlife of Canada by Lynn Stone. I gave the kids the book Adventures of Riley: Polar Bear Puzzle by Amanda Lumry and Laura Hurwitz to read on their own time.

Together we watched a video about moose and this 2-minute YouTube video on how beavers make dams:



The kids got really excited about our activity, which was making a "MISSING" poster for one of Canada's animals as if it was your pet. We included a picture and a description of the animal, plus a reward.

My 11-year-old had lost her pet whooping crane, noting that she mysteriously loses it at that time every year. Possibly it might be flying south for the winter.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Only an Evans would name her whooping crane "Whoopie Pie."

My 9-year-old was missing her pet Beaver, Evie. When we whistled over the $700.99 reward, she just said, "So? I really want my beaver back!"

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
For features that might help people find Evie, my daughter wrote "brown, black tail, buck teeth, probably gnawing down this very pole." You know, because missing posters go on telephone poles.

Even the 3-year-old wanted to get in on the action and drew a beaver, too.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Don't feel bad, little one. My drawings usually need arrows telling people what they're looking at, too.


Friday


We watched another library video called Culture of Canada for Children by Schlessinger Media, which I really loved. (They also had History of Canada and Geography of Canada , which I would definitely get if I were to do this over again.) The acting was awfully Saved By the Bell-esque, but not the worst I've seen on a kid's show. Regardless, my kids learned a lot about Canada in 23 minutes.

Today we focused on the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, RCMP or Mounties for short. I found a fun YouTube video of an American journalist who was allowed to join in RCMP training in Saskatchewan for a day, and the day wouldn't have felt complete if I didn't introduce my kids to Dudley Do-Right from The Rocky and Bullwinkle Show:



As an activity we made "help wanted" posters for new RCMP recruits!
One of our posters listed desirable qualities in a recruit such as "bravery" and "not minding having hat straps on your chin." Both true, I suppose.

That night we had split-pea soup, which I'd been assured was a popular dish in Canada. I'd never made it before and almost everyone liked it. So, success!


Saturday


Like I said, sometimes the videos we find at the library are hit-and-miss, and tonight we watched a video about National Parks in the Canadian Rockies that bored my son almost to tears. The only thing that convinced him to make it even halfway through the movie was the promise of cake.

So cake we had.

We used this idea from DLTK's Crafts for Kids and decorated a 9x13" cake with white frosting cut-up strawberries to look like the Canadian flag.

Unfortunately I didn't cut the strawberries up small enough and our cake ended up looking like a nondescript red blob with red strips on the sides. But it still tasted good.

If you do it, cut the strawberries smaller than you think you'll need to.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Is it still a Pinterest fail if you didn't find the idea on Pinterest?

As a bedtime story, we read Dreamstones by Maxine Trottier and said goodbye to Canada. Since we live in New England, we're definitely planning a trip to Niagara Falls on the Canadian side in the next 5-10 years.


The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Canada -- resources, links, printables, and some funny stories about what happened the week I decide dot take my kids on a pretend "trip" to Canada to learn all about Canadian geography, history, and culture.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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6 comments:

  1. Ok, have you seem the video about the little boy on the bathroom bemoaning how much food he ate, including poutine? It is hilarious, not so educational though. We'll except that is how I learned about the stuff..... I love what you ate doing!

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    1. I haven't but now it's off to Google I go...

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  2. The older kids might like Madeleine Takes Command by Brill. It is about a 14 year old French girl living in New France aka Canada in 1692. She is left in charge of the fort while her parents go off to the nearest town for I can't remember what reason. Anyway, while her parents are gone the Indians attack! Lots of good stuff in this book-suspense, fortitude, wisdom, reason, dignity of the human person without being preachy or feminist in the politically hijacked kind of way. My boys liked the story even though it was about a girl! Another Jenny

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    1. That sounds awesome and right up their alley! I'd love to get them reading some more historical fiction. I think they've learned all they can from talking dragons and other mythical creatures in their standard diet of juvenile fantasy.

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  3. I love this! Traveling and culture are my "thing", which means it'll definitely forced upon the little ones. This really seems like so much fun. I don't know what the rest of your plans are, or if it would be any help, but I'm living in Russia for the summer. If there's any sort of Russian thing that you'd need documented, or Russian whatever, let me know :) (And then I'll ask my husband since he's the one who can actually speak the language and get us places.)

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    1. That's awesome, I will keep that in mind! We did Russia a few years ago, but at some point we're probably going to circle back and do ones again because the younger kids won't remember a thing!

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