Let’s Explore Europe

Our classroom travel through Europe started out much the same as with North and South America. If you haven’t had a chance to read those posts, you can check them out here: North AmericaSouth America. But now, back to Europe. First we had to identify Europe on a map, read a fact sheet, and highlight important information. At this point, students knew the drill, and what to expect for the first day studying a new continent. The rest of the week brought a few new activities.

First, I stumbled across a YouTube series called Travel Kids. It was a great fit to include in lessons about places in Europe. Basically, two kids travel to somewhere in the world and participate in an activity or learn about a place that is important to that country. For Europe there were eight short videos, so I put together a basic video guide for students to fill out as they watched. They were responsible for taking notes, making an illustration of something they learned, and writing a caption to go with their picture. Let’s just say the videos were a HUGE hit with students. Part of the reason, I think, is because the kids in the videos are right around the same age as my students. Knowing how much I love to travel and that I have been to many of the places students saw, I guess I should have seen the question I got coming,

“Ms. White did you take this video”- student looking at me like, duh of course you did since all you talk about is traveling

“Ummm no, I wish I had been smart enough to think of this”- My response

Not to worry though, because I had a stroke of genius that I planned to share with students. 

The second big difference between the previous two continents and Europe was a little something I put together to share what I had learned while touring in Amsterdam last summer.

If you remember back to my South America post, you might remember that students read a small vocabulary reader on Chile, that came with our reading program. Well, they really enjoyed it and seemed to learn quite a bit from that little book. As a way to try and give students a better insight into Peru, I made my own fact sheet for them to read. My fact sheet was just as good as the small book, I thought. I even included my own pictures from my trip. While they did learn about Peru, when they finished reading, I was brought down a peg or two by a student who commented on my hard work:

“I liked that small book thing way better than this sheet”

Burn. Okay, message received. Fact sheets are not cool or fun to read. Got it. And then it hit me, I could make my own small books about places I have traveled to. Duh! Thank you honest students for inspiration. I bring you, Travel Adventures with Ms. White Amsterdam. This mini book combined my two loves, travel and sharing information with students. I don’t think I have been so excited about a teaching project in a long time. 

Students were thrilled to be the first ones to read my new book. It was a great way to share my travels in a more lasting way. The small book was better than a PowerPoint or sharing pictures with stories. It put information into student’s hands, was something they could keep, highlight, reread and ask questions about. The book allowed me to use my own pictures (another passion of mine), relive the trip, and share information I had learned. It also tied in informational text reading skills. Really it was a win all around!

My small book on Amsterdam also got me thinking, in what other ways could I have students explore other places? The gables on the homes in Amsterdam, that I wrote about in the small book, inspired me to write a STEAM lesson about pulley systems. But that story will have to wait for another post.

Students and I had a blast taking a deeper look into Europe. I can’t wait to see what they learn as we travel on!



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