Around the World with Picture Books: A Literature Approach for Primary Grades teaches geography and world cultures to children using classic children’s picture books. The first book in this new series, Part I, covers select countries in Asia and Africa plus Australia and Antarctica. Countries in Asia and Africa that are covered are China, Japan, Thailand, India, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana. Part Il will visit Europe and South America.
These interactive courses involve reading, discussion, art work, notebooking (which includes some writing), and optional cooking activities. Consequently, along with geography and world cultures, students are also covering literature, history, art, and science.
For children in the primary grades, this study might be completed in a semester if you use lessons four days per week, but if you use them two days per week, the study should take two semesters. If you choose to complete it in one semester you need add only language arts and math for a complete curriculum. (Part II should be available soon enough to use for the second semester.)
Part I requires the use of 15 children’s books, books such as The Story about Ping, Anno’s China, The Lotus Seed, The Story of Little Babaji, and the Day of Ahmed’s Secret. You should be able to borrow most of them from the library if you wish, since most of them will be used for a short time for individual country or continent studies. Anno's China is new enough that it is unlikely to be in your local library. The other exception is Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski, which is used throughout the study. This oversized book features lovely hand-drawn maps that show not only major cities and geographic features but also small images of birds, animals, plants, crops, major industries, famous people, and landmarks. It has maps of major countries and geographical areas, although it is not a comprehensive atlas.
Children will also create a notebook using the Tsubame Note Book that comes either with the complete pack for this course or separately. This lovely notebook has acid-free, lined pages and a sewn binding that allows it to lie flat as children work.
At the back of Around the World with Picture Books are 26 pages of blackline drawings of flags, animals, country outlines, and scenes that are to be cut out (or photocopied if you wish) and colored or painted by students. These images are to be glued into the notebook as they work through this course, and students will add their own writing to accompany some of the images.
There are a number of lessons for each country or continent, with 70 lessons in all in Part I.
Each country or continent study begins with Maps and geography exploration following the lesson plans in the guide. One or more of the picture books are introduced and read and/or discussed. The images themselves are often the topic of discussion as directed by the lesson plans. You can also read additional books (many of which are historical or biographical) from annotated lists within Around the World with Picture Books, or check out videos or websites that are suggested.
Nature studies are brought in later in the lessons for the country or continent. For example, the China study includes brief lessons on the giant panda, the cormorant, the Java sparrow, and the pangolin in the next to last lesson. Art activities also come towards the end of each study. For China, this is a lesson on Chinese brush painting that relies on a website that teaches the techniques. The last lesson for China has a recipe for Asian Noodle Soup that you can use for a family celebration. There are sometimes more than one recipe for a continent study.
Around the World with Picture Books offers a delightfully different approach to learning that is perfectly suited to families with young children up to about third grade. Younger children can participate as much as they are able while their primary-grade siblings go further with notebooking, discussions, nature studies, and art.