Note: This post is sponsored by and written in collaboration with South Carolina Calvert Academy.
Have you ever thought of traveling around the world and back in one summer? It can be done for a very minimal cost and be educational for your family too!
Each summer, my daughters pick a different country “to visit.” We plan meals, study maps, visit animals, play games, create art, and watch movies on the chosen countries – all from the comforts of our home. There is even an added bonus for me. I do not have to pack a bag or worry about airfare prices and accommodations. Our trip is educational, but both girls see it as something fun. Without their knowing it, all four core subjects are integrated into our journey across the map.
1. Language Arts
We start with a trip to the local library. The books on their chosen countries count toward the library’s summer reading program and are excellent sources for informational text. We collect books on the culture, history, and food. We then pore through the books for ideas on games, art, and recipes that we might incorporate into our summer days. They create an outline as they work to identify what they will be interested in trying out for themselves.
Once menus are selected, the girls are responsible for reading them. They create the grocery list, gather the needed items, and assist as much as possible in the kitchen. Many local grocery stores and places like World Market carry additional food and drink items that originated in countries outside of the United States.
While Google Maps is a wonderful navigational tool, we often find ourselves with a low battery or incorrect directions. For students, learning to read a map is a life skill they can take with them anywhere! We find our country on the map! My daughters then look to see how we would actually get there. Could we drive? Would a boat or plane be a better means of transportation? We also study the country’s flag and look into the symbols on the flag and what they mean. For those who love social studies, a look into the government and comparing it to our own might be an added treat!
My girls prefer art, and we love to play games during the summer. We imitate an art creation that might be found in that country, which provides them with a tangible “souvenir” from their trip. Games played by children in the chosen country are an added form of entertainment in the evening as we end our day of adventure.
With grocery list in hand, we spend a small amount of money instead of thousands as we make our way through the store. The girls are responsible for adding the items up as they go into the grocery cart. We then talk about sales tax and how their total will change at the register.
As an added bonus, many times our adventures find them eager to actually see the country first hand. They research the cost of air travel, accommodations, food, and the places of interest. We then compare the total to the cost of a family vacation to the beach or mountains. It is really eye opening and gives them an idea of why we cannot buy or do everything that is available.
We are lucky to have fruits, plants and animals around us daily that did not originate in our country but were brought here through trade and early explorers. When we can, we dissect a fruit from the country of choice, purchase a plant at the local nursery to nurture at home under our care, or visit the local zoo to see an animal up close and personal! To take it even further, we research the item’s first arrival in the states and look to see if it is used differently here than the originating country.
As a culminating activity, we watch a movie or National Geographic program on the country. It is a wonderful way to close out our trip with pictures, music, and people. Both of my girls enjoy comparing the audio visual to what they read, created, saw, and ate.
It is a trip that can last a week or an entire summer! No matter how long the journey, it is one that will be remembered for a lifetime to come. I trust our adventure will be one that your family will enjoy too. Bon Voyage!
About the author: Amanda Youngblood is a teacher with the South Carolina Calvert Academy (SCCAL). She teaches 7th & 8th grade ELA and 8th grade Social Studies. SCCAL is a K-8, tuition-free public virtual charter school available to families statewide in South Carolina. To learn more about the program and view their schedule of upcoming events, click here.