The World in Your Backyard

Anyone getting tired of being confined to the same house and same yard? We are! So today we decided to go traveling. Around the world. Coming home was up for debate. This project can be as simple or complex as your wanderlust and imagination desire; we went fairly simple.

First, I created a passport. All I did was cut some paper in half (construction paper for a cover), fold those pieces in half, and wrap a rubber band around the middle for binding. Then I decorated the front, drew a rough crayon representation of each continent, and wrote “Welcome to (destination)” on each page, with an area for a stamp.

Next was a very quick compass: a piece of construction paper with a compass face drawn on, a needle cut out of another color. and a paper fastener joining the two together.

With our house as the North Pole, we used our globe and the compass to navigate around the yard. We laid our path out with rope and made our destinations out of chairs, picnic blankets, or whatever was handy.

Then, I scavenged the house for related materials; each stop (for us: the North Pole, North America, Central America, South America, Antarctica, Africa, Europe, Asia, and Australia – you could also work within a region – or do the solar system, if you really need to get away) got its own bag. Within those bags I chose an assortment of landmark flashcards, stories, non-fiction books, toys, puppets, puzzles, dress-up items – anything that referenced the area. I also made a playlist of global music for various stops. He, meanwhile, packed a sled full of supplies, snacks, and toys to share the adventure with.

Our trip went like this: I greeted him at his arrival at each place and put a sticker in his passport (as he showed me where he had traveled so far), then he got to pick whatever elements he wanted to try from each bag. At the North Pole we read two stories and hung out with his polar bear. In North America we listened to tribal drumming, wore leis, and he did a puzzle of the states. In Central America we practiced some Spanish and read El Chupacabras. In South America, we discussed anacondas with his stuffed snake, read Secrets of the Rainforest, looked at landmark cards, and were visited by our local jaguar. In Antarctica we learned about penguins and read about early exploration. In Africa we listened to music, played with his lion puppet, and read a story. We had put Europe and Asia on the same blanket, so we stayed there a while – we read Katie’s London Christmas, The Nutcracker, Catch Me, Catch Me, and Tikki Tikki Tembo; played with trains, our Russian nesting doll, and his nutcracker collection; looked through landmark cards; listened to a Riverdance piece; and danced around to some Indian music. In Australia we had a koala and rainbow lorikeet drop by, we checked out a map, discussed the unique native species, and played some aboriginal music.

Obviously, this can be way more focused and intensive learning-wise… we were just enjoying a pretend escape on a gloriously gorgeous day. Put your own twist on it, have a blast, and share the results!

For the record, my hastily-made playlist can be found here: Global – Backyard Passport.


Who am I? Foremost, the lucky momma of an amazing boy. To be perfectly honest, I am less his teacher than he is my inspiration - I have learned at least as much from him in the last seven years as he has from me. I am an old-timer at heart; I'd rather live on a farm, garden, crochet, and raise my kid out in the sun than anything else. I'm a bit of a technological dinosaur, more geared toward life where you can get your hands dirty and have some fun exploring, learning, and growing. I'm a homeschooled, homeschooling single parent with a passion for my son, nature, and the simple life. I am not here to pretend I know it all or lay out the research or provide a step-by-step game plan. I hope to encourage and inspire families to join in the journey of learning together - and have the fun that life is supposed to be made of along the way. Happy exploring!

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