Cultural Connections Overview

We are happy to announce that we will be releasing a new HOMESCHOOL COMPANION series this summer. It is called Cultural Connections and it will take our students Around the World! After creating our own passport, we will be jumping all around the globe to learn about different countries and customs.

Cultural Connections Homeschool Companion Guides

These Cultural Connections units will be set up just like our popular Simple Seasons units with weekly guides that feature literature, poetry, arts and crafts projects, recipes, and non-fiction books. Each unit will cover 12 weeks and highlight 3 different countries with 4 weeks spent per country. The books and activities will be geared towards children 6-8 years old and will be the perfect next step after Simple Seasons. We plan to create 6-8 Cultural Connections units over the next two years. We hope to have the first unit available at the end of June. This will provide our readers with over two years of homeschooling plans and activities to use during first through third grade.

For those of you who like to plan ahead, Cultural Connections unit one will explore the countries Japan, France, and Kenya. We will have more details for you in a few weeks. Get ready for an adventure!

 


 

Cultural Connections is a series of 12 week long, literature based, hands-on curriculum guides that have been designed to be used with 6-8 year old children. These guides have been create to help introduce young students to the cultures and people from around the world. We will focus on the elements of life that we all have in common such as family life, food, festivals, crafts, music, and games.

How is this program set up?

 

Each unit includes 12 weeks of activities. You should complete 3 units per school year. The units do not need to be completed in order. We will be adding additional units over the next two years with a goal or having 6-9 total. In each unit we will visit three countries. Four weeks will be spent covering each country. There will be both literature and non-fiction books scheduled, along with map work, coloring pages, crafts, art projects, recipes, poetry, and music. There is also an optional science activity add-on.

This unit can be used at the core of a homeschooling curriculum providing social studies, literature, art, music, and science activities. It can be used as a fun thematic add-on or after school program, in a traditional classroom for enrichment, or in a daycare or co-op environment for educational projects.

Please understand that it is impossible in a unit meant to be used as a gentle introduction to world cultures to cover every significant detail about a country. This guide should be used in the spirit that it was written, as fun jumping off point for young students to explore the world. We will not be covering every custom, tradition, or historical fact about a region. We are also limited by the books currently available on the market. We are not expressing our own beliefs, political or religious, by choosing which countries to cover. Again it mostly has to due with the availability of suitable children’s books about the region and the fact that we want to jump around the globe and explore cultures from different parts of the world. World religions will be mentioned only as they relate to the traditions and holidays that people celebrate. If you would like to spend more time on a country or choose your own to explore, especially one that is significant for your family, we highly encourage you to do so. You can easily follow our weekly schedule as a guideline and add in your own materials.

To begin with, we will read several picture books that take place in each country. We will also read a traditional fable or fairy tale from the region. When available, there will be a biography or a book about a historical event from the country as well.

The geography resource books will include a country overview book, a travel atlas, and a book featuring children from around the world. We have included several journal pages, a country worksheet, a map of each country, and a coloring pages.

What if I can’t find a specific book?

That is okay. You can make substitutions based on the books available at your local library. You will want to purchase the core geography books, Children Just Like Me and The Travel Book, as we will be using them every week but for the country books you can use any text available. Additional books are listed that include titles that can be used in place of one or more of the scheduled books. These were books that we considered using for the unit but may be out of print, written for an older student, or we just didn’t have room to include in the main schedule. Feel free to add them in as you see fit.

Crafts, Recipes, Music & Activities

For each region there will be 2-4 art or craft projects to complete. There will also be a couple of recipes to give everyone a taste of the culture. We have included a detailed supply list for your convenience. Games and traditional kids songs are also scheduled. The music portion of Cultural Connections takes the place of the poetry memorization that we use in our Simple Seasons units. All of the songs for the music program can be found on the Wee Sing Around the World cd.

Maps & Passport

We suggest that you purchase either a detailed world map and hang it in prominent location that you child can reach and/or purchase a globe. Students should be able to reach the map or globe in order to locate each country.

When you begin your first Culture Connections unit, you will need to make a Passport. The directions for the passport can be found online at…. You will want to purchase a flag sticker book to use as stamps in your passport. We also suggest buying a roller date stamp. Students will have fun stamping their passports with their entry and departure date for each country.

Geography Worksheets

For each country we have designed a coloring page, a country map, and a country information worksheet. Using coloring pages, even at an older age, helps students develop fine motor skills and writing endurance. They also work as a great intro page for a student journal. The maps can be used several different ways. You can have your child add important cities on their maps, label geographical features, add facts about the country on the page, or just color the map. The country information sheet will help your student develop basic research skills. It should be completed in the fourth week of the unit. You can use the geography resource books or the internet to find the information.

Science Activities

Science is an optional add-on and requires the purchase of a Young Scientist Series Kit. Unit 1 will cover recycling, measurements, and magnets. All of the lab guides can be found in the kit. There are several books assigned to go along with the labs. These are optional but recommended. The lab kits do contain the basic information needed to complete the unit, but the books will help engage the student more fully.

Use Only What You Need

As with many programs, Cultural Connections includes much more than needs to be done. Don’t feel like you have to use all the parts and pieces that we have assembled here for you. Feel free to pick and choose the curriculum elements that will work for you and your child. If you are using this program in addition to another curriculum or if your child attends a co-op for classes, you may just want to read the books and complete a few of the fun activities. The hope is that you will find joy in sharing these early school years with your child.

Journal Pages & Narrations

Every week you should complete at least one Journal Page with your child (print at least 12 copies). There are several ways you can use these pages but the basic idea is to have your child write a summation of the Primary Story you just read.

  • Younger children or children new to narration may need help from you, in which case you can ask them leading questions.
  • What happened first?
  • Who was the main character?
  • What did she want?
  • How did she get it?

Older students can be given specific topic ideas.

  • Describe the setting using quality adjectives.
  • Use a sequence of events to tell how something happened. Include words like first, next, and finally.
  • Show how a character demonstrated a specific trait (bravery, determination, loyalty, etc) throughout the story.

Narrations should be 3-5 sentences long. Older students should be encouraged to write a formal paragraph with a topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a conclusion. At this age students should be beginning to write their own narrations on the journal page. You can either have your student tell you his narration while you write it down and then your student can copy it onto his journal page, or an older student can write his own narration, edit it, and then rewrite it neatly onto the journal page.

Regardless of how you record the narration, be sure to follow grammar rules. Encourage your child to narrate in complete sentences. Younger children may need coaxing. Remind your child that all sentences start with a capital letter and end with a punctuation mark. Be sure to capitalize proper nouns and underline the title of a book.

The second part of the journal page is to have your child draw a picture about the story in the box. You may choose to have your child do this while you read the story or after she completes her narration. I have found that active children can sometime listen better when their hands are engaged in a task but some children do better sitting on their parent’s lap during the story with time to color after. Do what works best for your child.

Feel free to make extra copies of the journal page to record field trips, science experiments or nature studies. You can leave blank copies of the journal pages in your child’s coloring area on which your child can use as they wish. You may also choose to use the journal pages to record some of your child’s activities. You can paste a photo of your child completing a craft in the coloring box and add a few notes in the space provided. Then add the journal page to your child’s notebook along with the narrations to make a great portfolio of your child’s work. There are a variety of different journal pages included in this packet with varying line spacings, number of boxes, etc.

How do I plan my week?

We have not assigned books or activities to a particular day of the week. Instead we have arranged everything by the week. This allows each family to customize the unit to fit their own time constraints. Here are a few suggestions.

Five Days a Week

Monday: Primary Story, Music, Arts & Crafts
Tuesday: Geography, Worksheet
Wednesday: Primary Story, Music, Activities/Recipes
Thursday: Science
Friday: Primary Story, Narration, Music

Four Days a Week

Monday: Primary Story, Music, Arts & Crafts
Tuesday: Geography, Worksheet
Wednesday: Primary Story, Music, Activities/Recipes
Thursday: Story Narration, Science

Three Days a Week

Monday: Primary Story, Narration, Music, Arts & Crafts
Tuesday: Science, Music
Wednesday: Geography, Worksheet, Music, Activities/Recipes

 

Does this program meet state requirements or common core standards?

This unit was created based on the project style learning that we have done in our own home for our elementary school aged children. We believe in a literature rich, hands-on approach for our young students. We have not designed this program with any specific standards in mind, but you should be able to cover most of your social studies and science requirements using Cultural Connections. You may need to add a state history or a health component as some states require these topics to be covered at least once during elementary school. To complete your curriculum, you will also need to add in a reading, grammar, and math program. See our blog for recommendations and reviews. Be sure to research your own state laws and requirements. If you are unsure of the laws in your state, the HSLDA.org website can give you an overview.