Welcome to our fourth journey with Little Passports‘ Early Explorers kit! This month we had goodies waiting in the mailbox about famous world discoveries.
This topic was a bit difficult for three-year-old Travis to grasp, so I worked on finding ways to make the information relatable and closer to home. The kit covers (literally) monumental moments in world history, from the caves of Lascaux to King Tut’s tomb to the terracotta warriors of China (which I didn’t learn about until college – Travis is officially 20 years ahead of me).
I talked about each discovery as we found where they belonged on our world map, but could tell he wasn’t much interested yet. The activity booklet provided an overview that was largely lost on him, though he did enjoy the maze puzzles and games. Then we moved on to a few hands-on activities, which helped make things more relatable.
World Discoveries Craft:
After reading to Travis from the booklet about the Lascaux caves, we made our own cave art! Cut a rectangle from a paper bag and crumple up (good fun), to make your cave “wall.”
To capture the texture and materials of cave art, draw outlines of animals or figures in chalk. Travis said he was drawing a “cow”, but he found it difficult to make the chalk show up on the brown paper. I helped him with outlines and we ended up with something sort of resembling a deer and one more like a cow.
We then used paint in cave-painty shades (brown, black, beige, and red) to fill in our drawings. I loved the way Travis’s cow turned out, clearly all his own! I made the deer with a few stick people as another example for him.
World Discoveries Science:
The whole concept of discoveries was still a bit lost on Travis, so I brought it closer to home with a few tools a discoverer might use – a flashlight, binoculars, and a compass. Not only did we find a neat toy compass, but we also snagged this idea from Little Passports’ blog on how to make your own compass, if ever lost in the woods (or, er, on the playground).
Fill a small dish with water; set aside. Rub a magnet in one direction along a needle several times to “charge” the needle.
Place the needle on a leaf, and carefully float the leaf in your dish of water. After the leaf settles, it should point north! We tested it against our real compass, and it seemed to be working pretty well.
World Discoveries Keepsake:
The keepsake from this month’s kit was very clever; Travis had to be a “discoverer” and put together puzzle pieces before he could see the map of the world upon completion.
As a small gripe, the puzzle didn’t lie flat, with some of the pieces popping apart, which frustrated Travis. Still, it was a great visual for where the discoveries occurred around the globe.
World Discoveries Field Trip:
There was no suggested visit in this month’s booklet (which makes sense since most folks aren’t going to jet off to the Great Pyramids). One possible idea is to take your child to a local archaeological site or natural history museum and check out artifacts from ancient civilizations. We decided to go some place Travis could be an explorer… a dinosaur archaeology site! Conveniently located near family members, we made a weekend of it before spending the morning at Dinosaur State Park outside Hartford, CT.
Yup, those are real dinosaur footprints that a man discovered in the 1960s while digging with a bulldozer.
Travis went nuts checking out fossils with a magnifying glass.
A great way to show that the most mundane day can lead to the next great discovery in archaeological history!
World Discoveries Further Activities:
Alas, without jetting off to those Great Pyramids, there wasn’t much more to do for this one, but we still had some fun. Setting off with our toy compass, we staged a treasure hunt around the house (we used a few missing puzzle pieces from our kit’s keepsake). I hid one piece each in roughly the east, north, south, and west sections of our apartment, which Travis found exciting.
We also talked about which discovery we liked best. Travis settled on the Nazca Lines, so we dug up a few online video clips.
Finally, we headed to the library for intro to archaeology books, although the material was aimed at elementary schools kids rather than preschoolers.
Excited to see where Early Explorers takes us next!