Saturday, September 2, 2017

The Educational Summer Vacation: Studying Spain

This is the last week of our world travels for the summer of 2017! Not real world travels, of course, because we're not made of money. But we do try to learn about the culture, language, music, religion, and customs of a new country every week.

This week was Spain, and I think a good time was had by all.

(I've included links to the books, videos, and resources we used this week and you're welcome to use them all. Some of the links are my affiliate link, which means I get a small percentage if you choose to buy something using them. Thank you!)

Monday


After finding Spain on the map, the kids filled out this summer's LAST PASSPORT PAGE OF THE SUMMER! (I love doing these countries, but they also exhaust me and I'm usually glad when it's over for another 9 months.)

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Spain is on the Iberian peninsula, and a bunch of islands are part of it. I didn't even know about the islands, so there you go.

The passport pages we use are available for free download here. You print out a bunch and make a fancy cover for them, or just staple them together and yell "ta-da!" Whichever is more your style.


Download the Passport Pages

Next it was time to draw the flag of Spain. My kids were pretty dismayed to see the level of detail on this thing.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

But they're troopers, so they got to work.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

We listened to some Spanish guitar and went to the basement to watch Countries Around the World: Spain. It was a nice little intro to what a kid's life in Spain might be like. But I had the same question then that I do now: when do people in Spain sleep??

At naptime (which is really just an honorary name because the only real naps she takes are in my mind) I read my 5-year-old Lola's Fandango by Anna Witte. It is such a fun and clever, catchy book.

Afterward she really wanted to know what the fandango was like so we watched the YouTube videos here and here.

Possibly she was just stalling naptime, but I'm a sucker.

Tuesday


A BBC video on Spain took us through the major cities in Spain and what the culture of each was like. Again, there were lots of late nights partying and no sleep happening.

And then it was time to talk about bulls. We read Running with the Bulls by Claire Flynn, and my kids did not understand why anyone would want to do such a thing. To be fair, neither did I. I don't even like running when there aren't 2-ton animals with horns chasing me.

With a little searching, I was able to find some footage of the running of the bulls that was tame enough to show the kids.


The end of the bull run in Pamplona is an arena where the bulls are fought by matadors. We watched a few snippets of bullfights on YouTube, trying to expose the kids to enough so that they knew what it was like, but not so much that it would give them nightmares. It's a fine line.

The running of the bulls is about a half-mile, so I announced to the kids that we were going to run that distance at a track across town. It wasn't as difficult to convince them as you'd think, because we occasionally run there on Saturdays and there's a playground across the street.

As we were getting ready to go, it became apparent that I'd really confused the 3-year-old.

"Are there going to be cows there?"

"No, we're going to the track where we run with Daddy."

"The red track?"

"Yes."

"And there's going to be cows on the red track?"

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

There ended up being more goofing off than actual running going on, but at least we all got some fresh air. I jogged a quarter-mile while holding the 3-year-old's hand so he'd finish and a second lap by myself, so I'm good as far as running goes for a while.

At bedtime that night, I read the first two chapters of Shadow of a Bull by Maia Wojciechowska and told the older kids they could finish the rest on their own if it sounded interesting. My 9-year-old was up at 6:45 AM the next morning reading it on the couch and finished it all in one sitting.

Wednesday


Today we wanted to learn the Spanish language, but since we've done that several times before when visiting a Spanish-speaking country, we wanted to try something a little different.

We decided to play Go Fish and use it to review our Spanish. I took out the face cards and we had to use our Spanish numbers, 'please,' 'thank you,' and 'yes/no.'

So "do you have any fives" became "Can I have a cinco, por favor?" The person would answer si or no, and then you would say gracias if they gave you a card.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

In retrospect, I probably should have made them play for popsicles or cookies or something, and then they would have been a little more motivated. But it got the job done.

We'd had our fill of Spanish language teaching DVDs (the ones we watched last time were exceptionally cheesy) but we did watch a Jeff Corwin video called Spain: Diverse Ecosystem.

There wasn't much in the video that was specific to Spain, but they did learn a lot about animals and I enjoyed being introduced to Jeff Corwin, who's like everybody's goofy uncle.

Thursday


There's a lot to learn about the architecture in Spain. First, they were conquered by the Romans so you've got Roman ruins. Then they were conquered by the Moors so you've got mosques. Then they were Christianized so you've got a hybrid Moorish-Gothic style called mudejar. It's pretty crazy.

We watched a DVD called Discoveries... Spain: Castles, Cathedrals and Roman Ruins. I could not believe that all these beautiful buildings were in the same country.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

Toward the end, I think it was overload for the younger kids. It was about 20 minutes too long for them. But it even had a segment on harvesting saffron, which is a weird spice I was using in tomorrow night's dinner!

Afterward we watched a 4k YouTube video on the Seville Cathedral (Phillip is obsessed with watching 4k videos now that we have a big TV) and then took a break for lunch.


After lunch we watched another video explaining how the Roman aqueducts worked (did you know that the Aqueduct of Segovia was built entirely without mortar and was in use up until the 20th century?)

And then we tried to build one.

I still think it would've been cool to do something with actual water, but when I was planning out buying PVC and cutting it in half I realized it was becoming a big project that would stress me out, and it went against my philosophy of going simple and using mostly materials we already had.

So after a bit of searching, I found this classroom blog and decided that simulating the water with a ping-pong ball was the way to go.

The kids went through several iterations of a design until they settled on the one they wanted.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

And ended up with a successful aqueduct that any Roman would be proud of. Well, maybe.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Success!
While they were building, the 3-year-old used scrap wood to build his own aquaduct.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Nobody is sure how it works, but he's sure happy with it.

For dinner that night I made Fabada Asturiana, and let me tell you that I am completely intimidated by the in-depth nature of Spanish cooking. Thank goodness we had cereal night earlier this week so I could conserve my energy!

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I also technically cheated, since I found simplified versions of both Spanish recipes I was using this week. But I did my best. I could never hack it in Spain.

Friday


Today we talked about some famous historical figures that have come from Sprain.

While the kids were eating lunch (I needed a captive audience because this was a slightly drier topic) I read Juan Ponce de Leòn by Claude Hurwicz. We talked about the Fountain of Youth myth and what they would do if there actually was a fountain of youth. Would they want to stay young forever?

Spain also has two very famous artists: Salvador Dalí (the melting clocks guy) and Pablo Picasso, who's obviously Picasso and everyone knows who he is. We did a Google images search to look at some Dalí paintings (the older kids recognized them) and then read Picasso by Mike Venezia.

Using this activity idea, the kids got some experience with cubism, the style Picasso was famous for. Check out their work:

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Cat cubism by the 13-year-old

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Goat cubism by the 11-year-old

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Llama cubism by the 9-year-old

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}
Flower cubism by the 5-year-old

I was so happy to see that everyone got it, even the 5-year-old! She cut out and rearranged her picture totally without help from me while I was making Spanish paella for dinner in the other room.

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

The kids were all curious to see what saffron tasted like. Saffron threads are stamens of flowers that only grow in a certain climate and bloom for one week and have to be picked by hand and a teeny jar with about 40 of them costs $10:

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

I wasn't a saffron convert, but it certainly did have a distinctive taste.

Other books I left out during the week but didn't make an effort to read to the kids (they usually read anything they discover lying around) were:

I hope you enjoyed our travels to Spain this week!

How much do your kids know about Spain? Teach them with these easy-to-use free resources, ideas, and printables.  {posted @ Unremarkable Files}

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