Wednesday, June 28, 2006

World Cup Geography

Our lives have recently become ruled by the World Cup soccer tournament. Einstein has been watching them faithfully at a local restaurant and keeping our family apprised of all newsworthy goals, wins, and red cards. I no longer ask him about meetings for the day ahead, instead I ask, "Who's playing tomorrow?"

Sunburst has been really interested in all this soccer talk. One day he took her along to watch one of the games, Portugal vs. Netherlands, and she came back with her eyes alight with the wonder of learning something new. After bringing me up to date on all the scoring, she and Einstein went out back and kicked a soccer ball around.

Today the whole family loaded up and headed over to join Einstein for the second half of Brazil vs. Ghana. Einstein used to live in Ghana, so of course our family cheered them on. I was surprised how friendly the Ghanain team was... helping the other team's players up, rubbing their heads, hugging them, smiling. They lost the game, 0 to 3, but what sportsmanship!

All this talk of other countries and teams has ignited a curiousity in Sunburst. She wants to know more. Who are these people? What are they like? Where exactly is Portugal? I think by watching these games she was touched with a larger sense of humanity, and she longs to situate these places/people in her head and make connections.

We found a few thrift store finds tucked away in the closet that helped her along with that:
The puzzle and the Usborne book were very similar-- lots of pictures of animals, major landmarks (mountains, rivers, temples,) and both were drawn in that same whimical style. The puzzle was actually a game where you have to search for different sites to uncover some crime (i.e. Mr. Crud stole Sugar Loaf Mountain and hid it in France.) That was less enjoyable than simply putting the puzzle together. But she got a basic sense of continents, oceans, and climate from it.

Maptitude, the card game, is labeled for 10 yrs and up. It's a mild game of world domination, each card bearing a different country. It teaches what countries border each other, area, population, and similar statistics. She learned that Russia and China rank pretty high in area and population, but she didn't learn anything about the people or the culture or what makes each place unique.

To fit that bill we picked out this kids' geography book:

It divides up each country and gives a little synopis. Some countries have more detail than others, but Sunburst loved hearing what each country was famous for, what the major exports were, and how to say hello in the native language. We learned that Ghana grows a lot of cocoa, and you can speak in English there. Brazil, she was amused to read, is famous for winning the World Cup soccer tournament. They also grow coffee, cocoa, and speak Portugese: bohn DEE-ah.

Sunburst also looked up Spain, who lost to France today. She learned that Spain has two famous artists, Salvador Dali and Picasso. "Oh," she said, "I know Picasso." Some of her best friends are Mr. Picassohead experts and have emailed us their creations. Einstein pulled an art book off the shelf and showed her a few examples by Dali and Picasso.

She was off and running with new inspiration:

The first is copied from Picasso's Harlequin, 1915. The second is from Joan Miro's, Nocturne, 1935. Miro is also from Spain.

Somehow we've managed to bring this learning experience full circle again. I love it when that happens.

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