Whenever we kick off a new unit of a place, we start out by watching a few YouTube travel videos and studying maps. The kids love maps. They love trying to determine what the weather might be based on the location’s proximity to the equator, what sort of animals might live there, and even to speculate about what daily life might be like.
We began to study Egypt about two weeks ago, and we decided to kick our map study up a notch: Instead of reading other people’s maps, we made our own out of cookie bars.
This might sound complicated, and it did take longer than I expected, but the kids loved it.
The kids began by mixing up a double batch of our favorite cookie bar batter. The kids are good bakers and were able to do this entirely on their own. (This also required my Big Helper to practice adding mixed numbers as I didn’t double the recipe for her.)
Then they each retrieved the paper maps we’ve looked at and studied the basic shape of the country. I gave each kid a cookie sheet covered with parchment paper and half of the batter. They used a spatula to spread the batter out into the general shape of Egypt. My Little Man wanted to create the topography of Egypt with hills and valleys but then sadly decided that the desert was probably pretty flat. My Big Helper actually used her spatula to carve the Nile River and its delta with tributaries into her batter.
After baking, we mixed up a batch of simple cookie glaze. We colored some blue, some green, and left the rest white. The kids used our cookie paintbrushes to paint the Nile blue and the fertile land near it green. Then they crushed graham crackers and sprinkled them over the white icing to represent the desert sand.
Next they moved on to labeling. They made small flags out of toothpicks and scrapbook paper to represent major cities and monuments. The kids shared a small package of M&Ms to designate these places on their cookie and then stuck a flag in next to each one. My Big Helper color-coded her candies to signify the capital city, monuments, and other places of interest, and then made a map key so share that information.
Their personalities shine through on each one. My Little Man wanted to have lots of glaze on his map and as much of the color orange as possible.
My Big Helper wanted everything to be neat and orderly and as close to a printed map as possible. She was exact and precise as she worked and really enjoyed making her Egypt, as she calls it. She’s already planning how to make the map for the next country we study!
Now, after supper each night, the kids eagerly ask for “a piece of their Egypt.” Who knew that Egypt was such a yummy country?
What’s your favorite way to kick off a new study?