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Africa Follow-Up

I wanted to share a website that I found this week while my class was learning about Africa. The website is called WildEarth. This website has a live webcam from Djuma Game Reserve in Africa. Each weekday morning, they have a live bush walk that allows us to follow them as the ride through the African Bush. We had a great time watching the webcam.

Throughout the day, I would have the website on while the students were doing seatwork. When different animals would appear, we would stop and watch. At one point, we watch an elephant eating leaves. I think I was just as excited about the elephant as the students. As a class, we mapped the reserve on Google Earth. We watch as the sun set and the sky became darker in Djuma. We compared the webcam to Google Earth's sun feature.

This website lets Africa come to your classroom. The webcam allows a more meaningful experience because at times, it felt like we were in Africa. We compared Africa's landscape to Florida's landscape. We saw many similarities and many differences. I thought you might enjoy this website. It's free and easy. My favorite :-)

Africa

Africa_googleearth

This week we are learning about Africa. I have to admit, I do not have many books or activities for Africa. I have many activities that involve the animals of Africa, but not many activities about the country. I have always thought back to the activities I have done in the past and thought I could do better. I have been thinking about what I could do Africa for weeks.

I was saved this morning when I received an email from a friend who is enlisted in the Navy. His ship is in Africa! I thought to go along with our map lesson, we could following him as he sails from port to port using Google Earth. I thought we could connect with Africa by having someone we communicate with actually in Africa.

I have done activities with my friend in the past. He would send us pictures of the places he has visited and we send him emails about what we are doing. It's a great way to explore geography and include ways to send letters. In the past, he has visited our class, but unfortunately this year he will be gone till August.

I also thought it would be neat to explain the time difference. I'm sure there is a way I can download a clock on my computer that tells the time in Africa. The kids would see that it was dark in Africa when we were in school. There is a feature on Google Earth that allows the user to see what places are sunny and what places are dark. The button is located near the top and has a sun and cloud on it. You can have your class track the sun throughout the day. I feel the more we relate things we are doing to Africa, the more the students would understand that Africa is different than here. I'll keep you posted on what we are doing and what I find throughout the week on Africa.

More With Maps

Maps have been what I've been thinking about all week. Maps online, road maps, the rusty globe in my classroom, talking globes, maps of Florida, and puzzle maps. The list goes on and on. I couldn't believe the amount of maps that I could find. Throughout the week, I would introduce the new map and leave it out during our afternoon centers for the students to explore it on their own. Each day, I saw students using magnify glasses to discover the new places on the maps.

After using Google Maps to map out where my students were born, I decided to use Google Earth for our next mapping activity. I just wanted to compare Google Maps and Google Earth to see which one was easier for me to use. As a teacher, I wanted to find something that quick and simple to use.

I found that I enjoyed using Google Earth much more than Google Maps. Google Earth allowed me to enter the place marks quicker and the graphics were more attractive for the students. I mapped out where everyone in our class lived and the location of our school. We talked about who lived the closest and who lived the farthest. The students loved zooming in to see their houses. I felt like images in Google Earth made the activity more meaningful for the students.

I did have to do some changes on the settings of Google Earth. I unchecked most of the different layers located on the left toolbar. There were many layers that I thought would be a distraction for my students. I left the roads, Disney World, and NASA visible so I could prompt more discussions.

My main goal this week was to have the students enjoy exploring maps. I didn't want them to be overloaded with information so I kept each activity very simple and meaningful. I had the students ask me questions when they wanted to know more. I would like to continue more with maps throughout the year. If anyone has any suggestion on how I can include maps throughout the year, please share in the comments below!

Google Maps

After spending a weekend at FETC, I realized how important it was to teach geography to early childhood students. I have always been interested in reading maps and discovering where things were. I started thinking about what made me gravitate towards loving maps and traveling to new places. As a child, I remember exploring maps with my grandfather. I had a world puzzle that I remember doing often. And of course, I played Where in the World is Carmen San Diego? I still remember watching it on TV and singing the theme song!

In the beginning of the week I sent home a note asking parents to share where their child was born. I also asked them to share where they were born too. After receiving the responses, I created a Google Map. Creating a map was very easy but also time consuming. The school computer at school does have a slow internet connection so I think that was the reason why it took a long time. All I had to do was create a Google account and create a new map under My Maps tab.

I mapped the responses and was pleasantly surprised that my planned worked wonderfully. I had students and parents that were born all over the world. It worked out great because I started with the placemark that was farthest away and worked towards Florida. Google Maps has a feature called placemarks where you can describe the placemark. Each placemark I titled using my student's name and added mom or dad if needed.

While I was presenting the map, I asked questions like:

  • Who was born the farthest away?
  • Who was born in Florida?
  • Who was born the closest to me?
  • Why do you think most of the classmates were born in Florida?
  • Who was born near an ocean?
  • Who do you think was born in a state where there is snow?

Tomorrow, I will be mapping where each student lives. I asked the parents to send in their addresses so I could create another Google Map of their homes. I thought it would be interesting for the students to read the map and find who lives near each other or the closest to school. I will let you know how it goes!

Google Earth

Img_0564 This week I am teaching the students about Japan. I always enjoy teaching the students about different cultures. Through the school year, I teach the students about Japan, Australia, the United States, and Florida. For each culture, I use Google Earth as a tool to explore the different places.

In my classroom I have an E-Reader television that allows me to hook up my television to my computer. Everything that I do appears on the television making it easier for the students to see. This week when I introduced Japan, I used Google Earth for the first time with my students. The students were in awe at the world. I showed them where we lived and how you would travel to Japan.

Img_0565_2Once we arrived to Japan, Google Earth provides pictures of the Japanese culture. The students loved seeing pictures of Mount Fuji and the Japanese castles. After exploring Japan with Google Earth, I showed the students a PowerPoint on Japan. In the PowerPoint, I provided pictures of Japanese foods, clothing, money, music, and cherry blossoms. I find it easier to create a PowerPoint to introduce cultures because I can easily find images to introduce the topic.

Luckily for me, I also was given Japanese items to share with my students. The students loved seeing the Mickey and Minnie in the kimono and the chop sticks. I find that my students love learning about geography and different cultures. It's easy for many of my students to relate to the different countries because we live close to Epcot. They have become familiar with the different countries because of Disney.

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