This weekend was another busy one indeed. My husband and son headed off to the beach for a big soccer tournament, and Jessi and I headed off to our annual homeschool Geography Fair.
I'm not sure who came up with this idea, but I think it is such a great one. So great, in fact, that when it seemed nobody was up for organizing it last year, I decided to pick up the baton. My kids love doing this, and it is such a great way to get some "Social Studies" into our year. I figure if they do nothing else geography-wise, they will at least learn a whole bunch about one country. I also let them choose this country themselves, so that it will be something they are interested in.
Here is the basic idea. Pick a country, any country. Learn whatever you want about it. Put it up in some kind of display to share with others. Display your work at the Fair. It's that simple. There are very few rules. You can do as much or as little as you like. If you like Brazil mainly because they apparently have the best soccer players in the world (as my son does), you can just put up a lot of stuff about Brazilian soccer. Usually kids and families will have some sort of try-fold display board where they put up their written work and pictures and then include other props on the table in front of it. I've seen salt-dough maps, lego and sugar cube pyramids, home-made videos, and more. This year we had a "yurt" cake, a popsicle-stick Eiffel Tower, home-made videos, hand-made costumes, stuffed penguins, crocheted Mongolian "death worms", and more. The creativity astounds me.
Finally, to make it more interesting and encourage the kids to go around and learn something from the other displays, we have started having a "passport" activity. They pick up an empty booklet and go around to each table collecting rubber stamps. This year, since I didn't have time to make it more interesting, they just had to collect 20 stamps and then come back for a prize. For the older or more ambitious ones, I added that they could get a second prize by writing down 5 things they learned from the various displays. This got the kids circulating and looking around.
It's a great learning activity that we look forward to every year. It provides an excuse for independent research on a topic or topics. The kids then get to try to share what they have learned with others as an exercise in communication. Finally, it is a chance to learn interesting things while also being social. The excitement can be shared with friends. We hold it in the evening so that working significant others can attend, along with grandparents and anyone else interested in coming.
Because it is so open-ended and not judged, kids from the ages of 3 and up are able to take part without the pressure of a more formal event.
Do you have something like this in your area? If so, share it here! Maybe there are some good ideas that others would benefit from!