Since H turned 4, her awareness about the world and her interest in geography, social studies and maps has steadily been growing.
It ignited with an interactive globe she received from a friend on her birthday. Suddenly she became more familiar with countries like China, Nigeria and Russia . These places became more meaningful to her when (as with anything else) we started making personal connections (“Do you know that’s where our neighbours used to live?”) The globe also features music and languages from different countries and this was a hit with my daughter who, like her momma, loves world music and languages.
She played with these beautiful matching cards I had bought at Costco a few years ago that featured people from various countries. She started to become more familiar with various country names: Algeria, Cuba, Finland, Turkey….
Her newfound interest quickly turned into a month-long story session. It was about a family vacation that included my side of the family. Everyday before nap or bed, I told her another part of the story, which featured different countries or places. She was captivated and each day, excitedly asked, “Can you tell the story of Nani, Nana and those guys?” We traveled everywhere: Thailand, Costa Rica, Japan, Sudan, Australia and so on. Sometimes, she asked for a specific country, and sometimes I provided it. When I didn’t know enough about a country to spin a story, I took inspiration from non-fiction books, like this one. H really enjoyed looking at the photos and asking questions.
She also became very preoccupied with understanding why I no longer live with my parents in Toronto. She shared her anxieties around separation with me and took this occasion to remind me she wanted to live with us forever and wanted to stay in our current house forever. As she became more familiar with other places and how we refer to citizens from other countries, I started hearing her use words like “Chinese” and also asking how to correctly refer to various populations…”How do you call United States?” As of late, she considers herself and her brother Canadian, her father, Indian and me, Torontonian.
She worked through a sticker activity book called the World Atlas of Animals (I had previously purchased it for $3 from dollarama). It included a pull out map and helped her become more familiar with continents. For her, the concept that places have subsets is difficult to grasp. How can we live in Calgary…and Alberta…and Canada…and North America all at the same time?
Talk about different places peaked for her when I finally put up this giant map in Y’s room. She immediately began asking about places we had alluded to or talked about and started asking specific questions to help develop her understanding…”What’s this country between China and Russia?”
It was great for her to be able to see things more concretely. She looked at the map and asked me “Where is Oz?” Above mentioned in past posts, the Wizard of Oz has been a big interest of hers this past year. I told her Oz was not on the map but did show her Kansas. A few weeks later she carefully reviewed the map and asked, “Where is jannah?” This opened the door to a positive discussion about jannah as I know the idea of death typically makes her anxious.
Pondering about place also expanded to history and thinking about time. This book was a favourite of hers as she kept returning to it, eager to learn about and review the lifestyles of children from various time periods and places.
We plan to continue learning about places in different capacities as they tie in to different aspects of our life. I can already see some upcoming tie ins as we prepare for Ramadan.