I wanted this to be a long and detailed project, partly because it pretty much has to be because of its huge and varied geographical landscapes and its dynamic cultural heritage, but also because I love South America (I spent almost a year there) and I wanted the kiddies to share in that fascination.
We started by locating it on the map and naming its countries (it also has one territory, French Guiana).
South America made out of bread dough is something we did about ten years ago with the older two, before The Boy was born and when Panda Girl was mostly being a crazy toddler. So it was definitely time to do it again. It's a brilliant way to make a visual of the Andes mountains and gain an understanding of their length (4,500 miles).
We watched an interesting video about the formation of the Andes: the Nazcar plate subducted under the South American plate.
Colouring the mountains.
South America Lapbook
Peru and the Incas
The majestic condor. When I was six we did some sort of Inca project at school. I had to colour in an Amerindian style condor and I used red, yellow and blue. It was the moment I fell in love with history (the moment I realised history was a thing!). The image of the condor I coloured remains vivid in my mind, 33 years later and I still feel that excited about history.
To commemorate the moment my children coloured in condor images like I had and it made me feel a little dizzy and fuzzy warm! It's the little things!
The legend of the origins of Cuzco.
Inca farming is fascinating. They acclimatised crops to grow at different altitudes, they created terraces on the mountain sides, they moved farmers around to share their knowledge and they had incredible irrigation systems to water their crops. We built an Inca irrigation system in the garden, supporting the sides with stones as the Incas would have done.
We channelled the water into the 'field'. It worked really well!
Quinoa could grow at high altitudes. Tomatoes and avocados was grown at lower, warmer levels.
Inca art styles - geometrical lines and shapes.
Lighting beacons to show how the Incan Empire boundaries requested military support from Cuzco during an invasion.
We learnt about Inca bridges and roads, and Machu Picchu which we have done in some depth before today.
The Quechuans are the Peruvian descendants of the Incas today. We looked at some beautiful indigenous photographs from across the world.
Cooking with an Incan favourite: quinoa.
Incan vocabulary for The Boy on the paving slabs. Because we can.
The water that runs off the Peruvian Andes forms the beginning of the Amazon River. From here we turned our thematic unit towards the Amazon River, the Amazon Basin and the Amazon Rainforest.
Art to represent the four vertical sections of the rainforest: the forest floor, the under-storey, the canopy and the emergent layer.
A mini piranha lapbook.
The length of the longest recorded anaconda. This is terrible for two reasons: 1) I have a genuine fear of anacondas and 2) I can't get the paint off the concrete...
It's the length of my five children.
We made brilliant-sounding rain sticks. 300cm of rain falls annually in the Amazon Rainforest.
A silly morning measuring actual sizes of rainforest animals against the garage.
All about sloths. I love them!
The kiddies learnt how to draw cartoon sloths.
Panda Girl wrote a slow sloth poem.
And cartoon tree frogs.
A tropical pit stop
Guessing and weighing coconuts
Making their own rainforest animal wordsearch.
Comparing and contrasting and understanding sizes and quantities of rainforest animals. A poison dart frog could kill 50 snakes with its toxins.
The Queen Alexandra Birdwing butterfly and the bird-eating tarantula can grow to the size of dinner plates (28cm across)
The bee hummingbird's egg is the size of a grain of rice.
Untold numbers of rainforest species have yet to be discovered. We made our own!
Bromeliads are plants that grow on established trees. They can hold gallons of water and tree frogs use them for their frogspawn. Nature is amazing!
Cooking with rainforest fruit.
Plantain chips- Venezuelan street-style
You gotta' make a profit where you can.
Passion-fruit and coconut cake (gluten-free).
Banana and coconut bread.
I set the children a dictionary and thesaurus task to understand the meaning of sustainability.
Then we went on a shop hunt to find wood products from sustainable sources.
We visited an antique shop to find furniture made from rainforest wood: teak, rosewood, mahogany and ebony.
Panda Girl found this beautiful Edwardian ebony quill box.
And we even found some rainforest butterflies
With these thoughts in mind the kiddies designed some tops.
We listened to Brazilian Samba and the children drew images according to how the music made them feel. Amazingly, The Boy drew an African scene and indeed Smaba has origins in Africa. What an insight!
Learning about chocolate - from tree to bar.
Locating the Galapagos Islands
The children drew contoured maps to highlight the volcanic significance of the islands.
Panda girl spent a morning making an all-inclusive tour brochure for the Galapagos Islands.
South Amercian dice. We rolled it to see which national dances we should watch.
Some of our South American resources.