Friday, April 8, 2011

intro to Mexico: decoupage and watercolor map activity

Last week, we started a unit study on Mexico as part of our social studies curriculum - a subject which I piece together on my own vs. following a pre-purchased curriculum.

I found some great ideas, resource ideas and links on Homeschool Creations, and some coloring pages at Rainbow Kids, Home Education Resources and ABC Teach.

Our first stop in learning about Mexico was coloring the flag and map. However, I didn't feel like coloring a 2D map provided a good feel for the diversity and unique characteristics of the Mexican landscape. Since a trip to Mexico (at least in the near future) is way out of the question, I settled on a hands on activity to help the kids identify features of Mexico - created a 3D map.

Here's what we did:

Using a scrap piece of poster board, I freehand drew the county in pencil, and sketched in the placement of the mountain ranges (the maps found at World Atlas were an excellent guide) Next, we tore and crumbled up small pieces of newspaper, covered them in white glue and pasted them to the map. Brianna, my second grader, was able to do much of this herself with some guidance from me. Reese and Luke weren't that interested in this part. I forgot to photograph those first two steps.

Then, I diluted white glue with water and decoupaged packing paper over the entire area of our map. Brianna
also helped with this and Reese tried to but became more interested in squashing the mountain ranges.

After letting it dry overnight, I retraced our pencil lines and created a paint-by-number plan so the kids could paint the map without it become an abstract art piece. Note: next time I do this, I'll make my original pencil lines much darker as some of them were hard to see through the decoupaged paper.

Then the kids began filling in the color using watercolor paints. This was my favorite step since Luke (4 1/2), Reese (6) and Brianna all could participate and enjoy it. I had to help Luke a little and added some finishing touches, but most of the work was done by the kids.

After the paint dried, I traced over the pencil lines with a black sharpie marker.Finally, I typed out major landform marks and had the kids identify where they belonged and then we glued them on.

I would definitely do this type of project again for other countries we study, perhaps even adding other materials such as sand or greenery where appropriate. It was a lot of fun, and I hope, will help the kids better remember Mexico's landscape and important geographical features which surround the country.

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