Oh my goodness we have finally tackled another continent – it sure took us a while! We learned about Asian animals in October and then packed up and stayed with family and friends for almost three months. We did continue as much as we could with our homeschool during that time but I didn’t have our map or globe with me so geography was shelved. It was so lovely to get our new school room set up and bring out those supplies. I wanted to jump right into Australia for kids but I have to say I struggled a bit with something that you would think is really basic – what to call the continent and what countries it includes. I learned seven continents growing up Africa, Antarctica, Asia, Australia, Europe, North America (to include Central America) and South America but I’ve recently discovered that is not how everyone learns continents. They are pretty subjective – some places consider North and South America one continent and other places consider Europe and Asia one continent and there are a lot of different views regarding Australia and/or Oceania. I did a lot of internet searches that left me more confused than when I started but in the end I went with Australia and this explanation from National Geographic. I am however really curious to hear how many and what continents you learned growing up as well as where you grew up so please let me know in the comments. This post contains affiliate links and I received Luke’s Beach Day free of charge in exchange for a review. All opinions are my own.
Books of the week:
We started out by looking at our maps and seeing that Australia is a continent and a country and it is completely surrounded by water, but it is not an island. When we found Australia on our inflatable globe we were able to see why it is often called “the land down under.” My girls love the beach and we live in a landlocked country so seeing Australia completely surrounded by ocean was a good segue into our first book, Luke’s Beach Day by Giselle Shardlow.
This is the first Kids Yoga Story we have read but we are really looking forward to exploring more. It combines a story with an environmental message and fun yoga poses. We’ve been starting most of our homeschool days with The Sun Dance and my girls were excited to see some familiar poses and learn some new ones through this book. Luke and his class go to the beach and while they have fun playing and exploring they notice how much trash has been left on the beach. Luke throws all the trash he finds in the bin and worries about how the garbage could hurt the animals. The book has lovely illustrations and each yoga pose (with its correct name) is clearly illustrated in the top corner of the page. My girls loved the opportunity to get moving throughout the story. They especially enjoyed trying Crab Pose (Table Top Pose).
I love that at the end of the book there is a guide to assist the parent or teacher in getting the most out of the story and there are free resources to expand your lessons available at the Kid Yoga Story website. You can find a full Beach Lesson Plan, an Australian Animals Yoga Sequence and both a Koala and a Luke’s Beach Day coloring page.
The other book we focused on this week was Possum Magic by Mem Fox. This is such a sweet story of two possums, Hush and Grandma Poss. Grandma Poss turned Hush invisible with “bush magic” to protect her from snakes but one day Hush wants to see herself again and Grandma Poss can’t remember how to undo the magic, except that “It’s something to do with food! People food – not possum food,” and so they go on a culinary tour of Australia. In the story we were introduced to a number of Australian animals and we used the map of Australia on the last page to follow Hush and Grandma Poss’s travels.
Cooking & Tasting:
We prepared and tasted some of the dishes that Hush and Grandma Poss tried in the book. This Anzac biscuit recipe from Kid World Citizen was a big hit with my girls as was this pumpkin scone recipe from Taste of Home. We had a steak and salad dinner one night and, since we couldn’t find vegemite, we had marmite toast (instead of a vegemite sandwich). I know any Australians reading this are shaking their heads and saying that is just not the same thing but it was the best we could do. The only other yeast extract available here is Bovril and, while my girls both love Marmite, they have already told me that Bovril is unacceptable – too spicy! If you have no idea what any of these yeast extracts are you might find this article interesting. We just had the opportunity to try authentic lamingtons at an Australian friend’s birthday party so we didn’t attempt those but they were really delicious so here is a recipe if you want to give them a try.
Of course Australia gave us a great opportunity to learn about marsupials. Both Really Wild Animals: Wonders Down Under and Animal Atlas: Marsupials are available on YouTube and taught us a lot of fun facts. We printed the Bilby, Koala and Wombat masks available at Wildlife Fun 4 Kids and spent some time learning about each of these animals before doing some marsupial role play. I was the wombat.
We tied some cloth around our waists to make a pouch and jumped around the house like kangaroos.
Songs of the Week:
Jump, Jump, Jump (The Kangaroo Song by Loco Loco) was so much fun and introduced us to the didgeridoo (you can see how animal sounds are imitated on the didgeridoo here).
We also loved this signed Kangaroo Song. The girls enjoyed the song and motions and we watched it a number of times before I explained to them that the motions were actually sign language. It gave us an opportunity to talk about how we could communicate if we couldn’t hear. We then turned the volume off and watched the video again to see how much of the sign language we could understand.
Arts & Crafts:
I made the girls some boomerangs out of cereal boxes with this template and, while we couldn’t get them to work perfectly, we did get them to work well enough to understand that a boomerang is supposed to come back to you when you throw it. After playing with them for a while we used them as a canvas to try some aboriginal dot painting. We looked at the links to aboriginal art on the Kid World Citizen site and watched some of the video of an incredible artist at work. We then took our boomerangs, some paint and some q-tips and got to work.
Sesame Street Tie Ins:
In Global Grover visits Australia we met a little girl who helps her mother rescue wildlife and Harvey Zork visits Australia is a cute little video of an alien that lands in Australia and is greeted by a kangaroo.
Mama Smiles has a wealth of Australia posts in her World Culture for Kids series. We enjoyed expanding the yoga we learned in Luke’s Beach Day with two Australia in Action posts by the author of the book, Giselle Shardlow. We also loved Reading about Lyre Bird the Mimic and the Dreaming and looking at a wide variety of photos from Australia. There is even a recipe for damper (a bread cooked over coals) that I’d really like to try.
Wildlife Fun 4 Kids is based in Australia and, while it is a wonderful resource to help kids learn about wildlife in general, it is especially great if you are exploring Australian wildlife.
We don’t have many children’s books about, or based in, Australia what are your favorites?