Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Geography "studies" with a two year old: Iceland

Our geography exploration this week focused on Iceland.

We read this nonfiction book from the True Books Geography Countries series.

Iceland (True Books)Iceland (True Books)
The librarian recommended this series, and it was well written, but still contained too much information for the Bibliophile's age (2 years, 9 months).  We will probably stick with this series if I can't find anything simpler for him, and just read selected parts of each book.  I wish a geography book series existed for a younger crowd (anyone know of any?).

As we read it, we made a list of things we learned about Iceland:
Iceland is an island.
There are very few trees there.
There are glaciers and volcanoes.
Its nickname is the Land of Fire and Ice.
It has geysers.
Icelanders eat a lot of fish and lamb.
They speak Icelandic.
We also enjoyed learning about Icelandic names -- that "sson" or "dottir" are added to a father's first name to create the child's last name.  So we talked about what our last names would have been if we were born in Iceland.

Then we read this great fiction book set in Iceland:

How the Ladies Stopped the WindHow the Ladies Stopped the Wind

This was a really fun find.  It explains how a group of ladies in Iceland decided to solve the problem of too much wind by building trees in their village.  The sheep who like to eat the trees pose a problem, but one that is eventually surmounted -- with the help of the cows (and the chickens, who play a humorously essential role).  It was a little on the older side for the Bibliophile, but he got the general idea and seemed to enjoy it (he chose to keep it rather than return it to the library yesterday when we stopped by, so that is a thumbs up vote).  He tells me his favorite part was the chickens.

On the crafty/hands-on side, we made an Icelandic flag.  And we made a glacier (by freezing a loaf pan of water overnight), and set it up as a play scene with his toy boats, lego men, and flag.  He enjoyed this for a good hour or so, although we departed from Icelandic studies, and moved onto pizza delivery scenarios, and then giving his toy animals baths in the water.

I also cooked "J√≥lagrautur" aka Icelandic Yule Porridge.  I took a photo, but I'm no food photographer, and it doesn't look very appetizing.  It was yummy, though.  I think every culture probably has their own version of this, and I just think of it as rice pudding.  The Bibliophile ate a few bites, and liked it, but it clearly wasn't a fave (he's not big on mushy food).  It beat trying our hand at cooking fermented shark.

Other ideas we didn’t get to or scrapped for one reason or another: make a volcano, make a geyser, viking hats, paper boats.

I am linking this post up with the Geography/History link-up at Children Grow, Children Learn, Children Explore.

Comment: What places are you learning about this week?  What are your favorite geography resources for little ones?  (Our landmark cards, Hugg-a-planet, and Geopuzzles are probably our favs).

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Joyful Learner said...

I've tried to do geography units before. Our daughter doesn't care for flags, any kind of unrelated facts, etc. But she has learned her continents through the study of various animals. She retains more if it's connected to something she loves. Most of the time, I let her ask the questions and we "research". These days, she's been learning names of places and events in history through The Magic Treehouse series. There isn't a whole lot of factual information in the books but there's enough for her to make a connection to places they've been to. She loves the Amazon, Camelot, and Pennsylvania. I'm trying these days to focus less on memorizing facts and more on letting her figure things out and question things on her own.

Infant Bibliophile said...

@Joyful It sounds like you are on a wonderful path by following her interests. I think at this point the facts don't need to be memorized... to me it's more about letting them know that there is a wide world out there that is open to them. That people around the world are different, but have commonalities, etc.

Christy said...

I know most people do country studies, but we have chosen to begin with the fifty states. I have found fictional books that are set in the states to be the best for young kids. On my own, I compile other information and then we cook or craft or study the state animal or nickname, etc. My kids love the state quarters too. Anyway, this doesn't answer your question at all.

I would love to visit Iceland!

I think your ideas are great!

Infant Bibliophile said...

I love your state studies. They're really inspiring. It's funny, I was thinking most people do state studies and we were weird to do countries. :) I have a very systematic and complicated approach to the order in which we study places... each week over dinner I say, "hey, what place do you want to study next week?" and the bibliophile names the first place he thinks of. I'm not opposed to doing states, but he just has been naming countries so far. Next week he wants to do the United Kingdom.

Ticia said...

Rookie Reader Geography. LOVE that series. I agree the True books are a little too much for little guys (my 5 year olds have a hard time with it).

No guarantees it'll have everything you want, but it's got a fair amount of stuff.

Raising a Happy Child said...

I was going to say Rookie Reader Geography too - even though I was not thrilled with their state books. Did you know that Iceland has no horses and doesn't allow any brought into the country? I learned about it watching a commentary to the movie Stardust. They had some scenic shots in Iceland, but majority of the movie was shot in Scotland.
I am hoping we will return to more geography after we settle back down after a real cross-country visit :)

Debbie said...

I haven't explored any unit study ideas at this point, I was going to say that I have heard the Rookie Reader Geography is good, but I haven't even seen them yet myself. Thank you for linking up this week.

librarymeow said...

This might still be a little over a 2 yo head BUT this book is so so wonderful: Nights of the Pufflings by Bruce McMillan

Takes place on an island off the coast of Iceland where the kids go pick up stranded baby puffins and help them get back to sea. Photos and lots of Icelandic words. My 3 yo was enthralled!

April said...

After recently buying a shower curtain map, I have put some thought into geography studies. I'm not sure if I would like to do country or state studies first. I'm just trying to think it all out now. How old is your son...I know he is not an infant anymore :). Fermented shark? That's the first I heard of that.