Wednesday, March 7, 2012

A Big Map of Africa

Lisa over at 5 Orange Potatoes got us WAY hooked on Africam. It's a set of 24-hour webcams located at watering holes in South Africa--our favorite is located at Tembe National Elephant Park.

The first thing that I do in the morning is set up one of our laptops to the Tembe camera, where it sits all day on the living room table; the last thing that Matt does at night is shut that laptop down. In between times, birds and bats and animals of all sizes come to visit us through the camera--someone is forever and always shouting out "Giraffe!!!" or "Elephants!!!" or "Hurry, lion!", and we'll all run over to see. We've seen a lazy lion lounging on the dirt like a giant kittycat, and a baby wildebeest tromping along behind its Momma, and once, late at night after the girls had gone to bad, Matt and I totally saw two elephants have sex.

As such things always do, the Africam has inspired an educational foray into all things Africa. We checked out lots of African animal encyclopedias, because we wanted to identify the animals at the watering hole, and we checked out some children's atlases, because we wanted to see where the watering holes were located, and then, since we already know Egypt and the Fertile Crescent and thus already have a little context for Africa, I decided to go whole-hog into an Africa study.

For that, you need a map. A BIG map.

I'm forever going on about Megamaps, I know (it's because they're really GOOD!), and this is another shameless plug for their free site, since our big Africa map is a 4x4 map printed straight from their site. Willow put it together like a puzzle--

--I taped all the joints from the back side, and then we duct taped it right to the wall, because I'm from Arkansas and I duct tape EVERYTHING.

I asked Willow to color in Egypt and draw the Nile River, but she was so excited that she colored all the countries right then, matching the colors to our children's atlas:

She also drew the Nile in wrong, so we'll have to fix that tomorrow. Oops! I needed to do some fact-checking, anyway, to make sure all the countries and their borders are still accurate.

Syd had the job of painting the oceans:

 I imagine that we'll keep our big map up for at least two months (it'll be a handy ready-made project for our homeschool group's International Fair later this Spring--yay!), and I have lots of ideas of other things that we can add to it, if the girls are willing:

  • Fertile Crescent and other locations from The Story of the World volume 1, which we're also studying
  • all the locations from our Ancient Egypt studies
  • the locations of the Africam web cams
  • images of the typical animals found in various locations
  • thumbnail-sized images of the picture books that we'll be reading that are set in Africa
  • thumbnail-sized images of the chapter books that Willow reads that are set in Africa
  • labels of all the countries (which is good handwriting copywork!)
  • copies of the short book reports that the girls are beginning to learn how to do
  • the Great Rift Valley, and images/info of the best finds from that area
Okay...we may have this map up longer than two months!


Homeschool family said...

ah thanks for this great post. i'm definitely checking out the webcam this week with N (10). My favourite part of your post is the excitement of colouring in the countries on the map using the atlas as the reference. homeschooling - i love it!

Tina said...

We just picked up The Story of the World Part 2 from the library. While we don't actually use it as lesson plans, I know we are learning from it because every once and a while one of us will say, while reading a book, "Didn't we learn about x,y,z from The Story of the World?"

We love learning this way :)

julie said...

We're obsessed with the audiobook versions, read by Jim Weiss. A couple of years ago I ripped all four volumes to itunes, and the girls, who love audiobooks, seem to listen to some combination of that and Magic Tree House and random stuff that they've checked out from the library every week.