Around the World with Picture Books: A Literature Approach for Primary Grades teaches children using classic children’s picture books. Along with teaching geography and world cultures, this course also teaches about literature, history, art, and science. The first teacher guide in this series, Part I, covers the continents of Australia and Antarctica plus selected countries in Asia and Africa (i.e., China, Japan, Thailand, India, Morocco, Egypt, Kenya, Tanzania, and Ghana). Part II visits various countries in Europe and South America.
These courses are perfect for children in grades one through three. There are a number of lessons for each country or continent, with 70 lessons in all in Part I and another 70 lessons in Part II. Ideally, you will complete each course in one semester using these lessons four days per week. Using both courses for one school year provides you with a complete curriculum for everything other than language arts and math. However, you can use either study as a supplement on only one day or a few days per week, perhaps spending a year or more on one course.
Each volume of Around the World with Picture Books serves as your teacher guide as you work with your student(s) in a unit-study fashion. These interactive courses involve reading, discussion, artwork, nature study, notebooking (which includes some writing), and optional cooking activities.
Part I requires the use of 15 children’s 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. Part II uses 21 children’s books, such as The Little Prince, Anno’s Spain, Strega Nona, and The Rainforest Grew All Around. Since most of them will be used for a short time for individual country or continent studies, you should be able to borrow most of the books from the library if you wish. (Beautiful Feet Books sells literature packages that include all of the literature books for each course.)
One book that you will want to own rather than borrow is Maps by Aleksandra Mizielinska and Daniel Mizielinski. Maps is used throughout both Part I and Part II. 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 the major countries and geographical areas, although it is not a comprehensive atlas. Another book that you probably want to purchase if you are using Part II is the consumable book, Art Masterpieces to Color.
Children will create a notebook for each study using the Tsubame Notebook that comes with each course package (or can be purchased separately). This lovely notebook has acid-free, lined pages and a sewn binding that allows it to lie flat as children work. You can use another notebook, but the publisher uses this particular notebook since they believe it will help students produce a nicer finished product.
At the back of each volume of Around the World with Picture Books are about 30 pages with blackline drawings of flags, animals, country outlines, and scenes that are to be cut out and colored or painted by students. (These drawings are also available in PDF format to those who purchase the teacher guide or pack making it easy to print off multiple copies for siblings you are including in the study.) Students are to glue these images into their notebooks as they work through each course, and they will add their own writing to accompany some of the images.
Each country or continent study begins with Maps and geography exploration. One or more of the children's picture books are introduced, read, and 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 both volumes of Around the World with Picture Books or check out the suggested videos and websites. Nature studies are included within the lessons. For example, the China study in Part I includes brief lessons on the giant panda, the cormorant, the Java sparrow, and the pangolin. Art activities are found toward the end of each continent or country study. For China, there is a lesson on Chinese brush painting. Optional cooking or food activities add another dimension to the lessons. For instance, the last lesson for China has a recipe for Asian Noodle Soup that you can use for a family dinner.
Around the World with Picture Books offers a delightfully different approach to learning that is perfectly suited to families with young children up through about third grade. Even preschoolers and kindergartners can participate as much as they are able while their primary-grade siblings go further with notebooking, discussions, nature studies, and art.