After a 2 week break to study Business 101, we are back to traveling the world! "Dag" from the Netherlands. My first time traveling out of country (many, many years ago) by myself was actually to attend a swim camp and competition in the Netherlands. I have so many wonderful memories of touring the beautiful country, and was excited to pass along some of those memories and excitement to our child.
Of course, the three things I remembered the most were the tulips, windmills, and wooden shoes. We took turns reading "The Great Tulip Trade", which is an easy reader and great book for your younger readers. We then watched a few YouTube videos that toured some of the tulip fields and farms.
The main read aloud I chose for this unit study was "When the Dikes Broke". Based on the great flood of 1953, it is a heartwarming tale of a people coming together to help others in need. I could not find this book at our local library, so we listened to it on Audible. The kids were fascinated to learn that about 40 percent of the land is below sea level, and that there are 800 miles of dikes to hold back water from the seas.
While we listened to the audiobook I handed out one of my favorite treats - Stroopwafel. I shared how each evening we would walk from our hotel to the local market to get one of these. I was pleasantly surprised when I found a gluten free version of my favorite treat on Amazon, and ordered a case for the children to share. They were a big hit among everyone.
Windmills are used in the Netherlands to pump water into the canals off of the land reclaimed from the sea. The children each constructed a windmill design out of an assortment of materials that I spread on the table (spoons, knifes, popsicle sticks, feathers, egg cartons, and more!).
Their assignment was to create a design that would lift a binder clip when a simulated wind (fan) blew. We had so much fun with this STEM project! Even our four year old got in on the fun.
Some designs that they thought would work really well, they soon discovered did not work as planned. I actually love when this happens because it is such a richer learning experience (both emotional learning and intellectual learning). So, I welcomed these "failures" and we talked how we could turn them into "successes" with our attitude. Growth mindset is a powerful tool to teach!
While I was in the Netherlands, I also visited the Van Gogh museum. We did a virtual tour of the museum online (there are lots of activities to choose from on their website) and drew our own renditions of Starry Night.
Many famous artists have come from the Netherlands. We explored some of the works of Rembrandt, Jan Steen, Jan Vermeer, and others online. These artists painted with paint, but we explored the art of descriptive writing and painted with words. In my Writing Around the World series, I have tried to connect a literary activity to each country that we study. This series is made with homeschoolers in mind and includes activities for little learners all the way through middle schoolers (and even high schoolers could use this series). While thinking of their favorite place, the children answered a series of sensory questions, and then thought of similes, metaphors, and onomatopoeias to describe their place. Using these, they then wrote a descriptive writing piece. The littles had similar descriptive writing activities that required far less writing, but still encouraged them to use their senses and explore adjectives.
Speaking of senses - oh my, the Dutch Pear Baby we made was heavenly! It was a fun recipe because we were able to use pears we had collected from our pear tree, and it tasted, smelled, and looked "dreamy" just as the author of the recipe described it. It received a 10/10 from all of the children.
The final book we read for the unit was "Boxes for Katje". We had studied the holocaust and WWII in depth last year, but this book was not on our reading list then so I wanted to be sure to revisit and and remind the children of some of the historical trials the people of the Netherlands had faced. It is an inspiring tale that will leave your children eager to make a difference.
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