Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland)

Every summer my kids and I pretend to travel the globe, "visiting" one country a week. We learn about geography, history, other cultures and religions, foreign languages, and it puts just enough structure in our day to avoid driving each other crazy.

For the last week of our educational summer vacation this year, the kids and I learned about the Netherlands. Follow along with me: I'll lay it all out if you want to try doing this at home, and if you don't you can at least laugh at our crazy Pinterest fails in the pursuit of knowledge.

(My affiliate links are in this post. Translation: if you buy anything using these links I get a cut at no extra cost to you. Everybody wins.)

Monday


We started by listening to some Dutch music while the kids found the Netherlands on our wall map and filled out their passports.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

You can download the passport pages here, cut them into quarters, and staple for a quick and easy passport.

The country's official name is "the Netherlands" (this naturally led the kids to an in-depth discussion on the Nether in Minecraft, and frankly it took me a while to reel them back in,) but it's often called "Holland." Actually, the country brands itself as Holland for tourism purposes, probably because it sounds friendlier. And the people and the language are called Dutch.

The kids did a Google image search for the flag of the Netherlands and copied it for our overbearing Wall 'O Flags.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We read Look What Came From the Netherlands by Kevin Davis. I asked my 11-year-old to take a picture and got totally photobombed by my preschooler.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I think she was just really excited about the Netherland's contributions to the world and couldn't contain her enthusiasm.

The book had some Dutch words and their pronunciations in the back, so we learned "please" (ahl-stew-BLEEFT) and "thank you" (DAHNK-uh) to use at mealtimes all week. We also practiced counting 1 to 10 with this video.

I've mentioned before that I love the Countries Around the World series from Schlessinger Media. The one on the Netherlands wasn't available on Amazon, but I did find it at my library (go, interlibrary loan!) They're 13 minutes long with a kid for a narrator so it's just right for our purposes.

That night Phillip told the kids about when he served a mission for our church. Six months of it was spent in Aruba, which used to belong to the Netherlands. He spoke Papiamento there, which is a mix of English, Spanish, and Dutch. The kids speak Dutch in school, Papiamento at home, and English on the street with their friends. The capital is Oranjestaad, or "orange city," because the color of the Dutch royal family is orange.

Tuesday


The Netherlands is a low-lying country, mostly at or below sea level, so the Dutch are masters of flood prevention. They built canals and dikes, but also used windmills to power pumps for the water.  
We read Katje the Windmill Cat by Gretchen Woelfle, based on a famous flood where a cat and baby survived. My 3-year-old was riveted the entire time, and that's saying something because she never stops moving (for proof, see photobomb above.)

I didn't know if my kids, especially the younger ones, really got how you could power something with a windmill, so we watched this video on how the wind turns the blades to move the gears:



To let the kids experiment with this principle, I got out one of my favorite toys from my childhood, Gearopolis. It looks like they no longer make this toy, but you can still find it from private sellers! (I got mine at a consignment store a few years ago.)

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

After they'd gotten their fill of Gearopolis (I could tell because they gradually devolved into throwing toys and telling potty jokes,) we watched a few more videos explaining the water pumping aspect of windmills.

Most used an Archimedes screw like the one in this video to move water, and then we got a little cocky and tried (read: utterly failed at) making an Archimedes screw. We attempted to follow this tutorial, but it was a disaster. The kids were bored and just wanted to go play Gearopolis, the tape was not holding things together, and I remembered why I hate doing crafts with the fire of a thousand suns. Seriously, we are not a crafting family.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Works just about as well as it looks like it does.
(P.S: Why are there always random plates in the background of all our pictures?)
The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Trying to work the screw to pump "water" (a.k.a. Cheerios). At least the kids enjoyed the snack.

Wednesday


Everybody knows Holland is famous for tulips, but did you know there was a huge tulip-buying frenzy in the 1600s? Seriously, at one point a tulip bulb was going for several times the average person's yearly salary.

We read Hana in the Time of the Tulips by Deborah Noyes to introduce the whole crazy thing. You could use it as a jumping -off point to talk more about economics and bubbles if you wanted to.

Then we looked at Google images of tulip bulbs and how everything come from inside, and how a bulb is different than a seed. The kids especially liked this tulip time lapse video:


Afterwards we made "fork tulips," using this tutorial from Kids Play Box. I thought it might be too babyish of an activity for my older kids but they all enjoyed it equally.

Even though they were sharing paint so they had similar color schemes, each of them had their own idea and style.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

While we painted, I put on Holland's Tulip Gardens from the Gardens of the World series. The kids (or me, for that matter) would probably never sit still to just watch the video since it was just music and shots of flowers, but it was perfect for background to this activity.

While they worked on their fork tulips, I was in and out of the room making oliebollen (literally "oil balls",) or Dutch donuts. Think of donut holes, with apple slices and raisins.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
I'd never deep fried anything before and was slightly worried about splashing oil burning off my face, but it was fine.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

So how were they?

Honestly, we threw most of them away because raisins in a donut is not, apparently, a taste we like. We're just too American.

Thursday


Today was less focused, and more of a random smattering of all things Dutch.

After reading Festivals of the World: Netherlands by Joyce Van Fenema (my son was really interested in learning all about Sinterklaas, the origin of Santa,) we turned to YouTube.

We watched this short music video showing some traditional Dutch fashions and then this 5-minute documentary on how wooden shoes (called klompen) are made.

We watched a 30-minute video called Amsterdam from Vista Point, and then talked about two famous Dutch painters, Rembrandt and Van Gogh. 

The plan was to have each of them choose a painting and have them recreate it. Rembrant's style was a little, ahem, intimidating for the kids:

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Not pictured: Rambrandt's painting of a human autopsy in progress.
(Really, it's called "The Anatomy Lesson of Dr. Nicolaes Tulp." Look it up.)

But Van Gogh seemed a little more accessible, so they all chose one of his works, instead.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Slightly more kid-friendly, no?

I was refilling the printer cartridge to print out a line drawing of "Starry Night" for my 3-year-old when a massive ink explosion derailed the rest of our evening, so the kids had to finish theirs the next day.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

(The older kids just copied the original by looking at an image online, but I did print out a line drawing for my preschooler. To find a line drawing of a famous work online for little kids to color, search for it on Google images, then click Search Tools > Type > Line Drawing.)

Friday


You can't really talk about the Netherlands without talking about Anne Frank, so today was her day.

She was born in Germany but her family left for the Netherlands when things started getting dicey. Unfortunately the Germans occupied Holland during WWII and her family still had to go into hiding.

I learned so much by watching The Short Life of Anne Frank from Schlessinger Media. The 30-minute documentary was designed for later elementary school-aged kids, so it was totally age-appropriate, both in how it explained events and how it kept their attention. It told my kids what happened without giving them nightmares.

We already had a copy of Anne Frank: The Diary of a Young Girl, but if you don't I highly recommend that you get one.

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
This is my copy from when I was a kid. I think it still has all the pages, even!

For dinner we made Bami Goreng, an Indonesian stiry-fry that's become a Dutch staple. Apparently there's a lot of Indonesian influence in the food from the spice trade and Dutch colonization of Indonesia... who knew??

As a bedtime story we read a picture book to the Dutch nursery rhyme Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. This poem has been done a few different times, but the version we used was  Wynken, Blynken, & Nod by Eugene Field.

Saturday


Gouda cheese was first made in the Netherlands, so we had a little cheese tasting party after dinner.

I'm usually not a fan of fancy cheeses. I don't know about you, but it makes me feel like a sucker when I drop a bunch of money on something that smells disgusting and tastes worse. But I actually liked gouda cheese. It smelled and tasted good!

(We wanted to try Edam cheese, another famous Dutch cheese, but I didn't see any at my regular grocery store. As I mentioned, I'm not too psyched about hunting down specialty cheeses, so I didn't try very hard to find it anywhere else.)

Before bed we read Donald and the Big Cheese: An Adventure in the Netherlands from Disney's Small World Library, and it was a fun recap for the kids about all we'd learned.


We didn't get to do everything we'd wanted this week. I kept meaning to make pannekoeken, a kind of Dutch pancake, for a lunch/dessert kind of thing, but I'll have to save the recipe for later.

Also, I'm pretty sure we own a cute, funny movie called The Best Two Years about some Mormon missionaries living in the Netherlands. As a Mormon I always did like it, but I'd be interested to watch it again now that we've learned all about the country. I'd probably notice things in the movie that escaped me before. I'll have to dig it out of the basement!

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying the Netherlands (Holland) -- Every week of summer vacation my 4 kids and I learn intensively about another country in the world. See what we did, how we did it, and use the resources and links here so you can do it, too.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
map image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons


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4 comments:

  1. If you can find a copy of the book Boxes for Katje, I highly recommend it. it's a sweet, touching story about a family living in Holland, post-WWII and how a young girl generously shares the contents of boxes she receives from a family in Ohio through the Children's Aid Society. Makes me cry every time I read it to my children.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the tip, I'm going to look if our library has it right now!

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  2. Sounds like a great week! I saw "Starry Night" in New York this summer. That would be a reason to take the kids to NY. All the museums! Though of course you have to explain why famous Dutch paintings stay in a museum in NY. Mamasan

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  3. How fun, as always you make it look easy! Danhku for sharing. I know I totally messed up the spelling.
    Melinda

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