If your busy day-to-day life as the mom-manager of your family means that you don't have time, or resources, to take a trip south of the equator, teach your little learner about Peru with a few creative cultural crafts and activities. Explore the ancient Incans of this South American region -- without having to actually climb up Machu Picchu. Learn about Peru's feathery, fluttering friends and get into the country's culture.
1. Incan Activities
While your preschooler might not pay attention long enough for a lengthy lecture on the Peruvian history of the ancient Incans, she may enjoy a quick activity (or two) that lets her get hands-on into learning. Make a mini-model of Machu Picchu using a cardboard base and clay or cover a newspaper mountain with paper mache strips. If your child enjoys the architectural aspect of your artsy activities, keep the learning going and build block tower Incan ruins or use cardboard boxes to build a life-sized pretend play space for dramatic reenactments of Incan myths and stories.
2. Birds of Peru
If your child is a fan of feathery friends, she should know that Peru has the second highest number of different types of birds on the planet. With two new species found each year, you and your child can explore the world of Peruvian birds that never seems to end. Make a colorful tropical bird using modeling clay and non-toxic tempera paint. If 3D art isn't your child's favorite, give her a rainbow of crayons and have her draw her favorite birds from Peru. Another option is to make a bird collage. Mix and match pictures of Peru's birds from travel magazines or print out a few from the Internet. Cut the pictures up and glue them together on another sheet of paper. Add a few craft feathers, with glue, to complete the mini-masterpiece.
Chances are that your little learner doesn't know where in the world Peru is. Telling a preschooler that another country is far away may mean little to her, leaving her thinking that Peru is somewhere just a few miles past the local park. Stage a pint-sized geography lesson and pull out a world map or, better yet, globe. Point to your home town and then to Peru. Use star stickers to show her where each is on the map and just how much land separates the two. Add in an extra lesson on the topography of the country and build bumpy Andes Mountains onto your map or globe with removable play dough.
Help your child to understand that Peru has a very different culture than her own. Use simple activities that your child already knows to compare the similarities and differences between Peru and the United States. Discuss typical foods of Peru and how they differ from what she eats. Most likely, Peruvian children aren't chowing down on mac and cheese, but they might eat aji de gallina (shredded chicken in a milk sauce), carapulcra (potatoes, pork, steak and rice) or rellenos de papa (potato patties filled with meat). Make a few Peruvian dishes and have a taste testing activity with your child. Another way to introduce this South American culture is through music. While contemporary kids in Peru may enjoy the same music that your little one does, play a CD of traditional songs to help your child hear the musical traditions of the region, which can range from Indean to African to European influences.
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