The following activities are designed to be used as a menu. Pick and choose the options that best suit your child’s age and interests. These activities can be done over one day or many. So, without further ado, let’s travel!
Get Ready to Go!
Place those suitcases by the door. When you’re kids wake-up today, they’ll discover their suitcase and passport waiting for them. Explain that while they can’t go on an actual physical trip around the world this week, they can go on a virtual one. And the first destination is – South America
Here are a few facts about South America:
- There are 12 countries in South America and 3 dependencies with a total of more than 385 million people living on the continent.
- Largest Country: Brazil. The country is covering more than half the continent’s landmass. Did you know that Brazil is only slightly smaller than the USA.
- Largest City: Sao Paolo in Brazil. With more than 21 million inhabitants (2019) Sao Paulo is also one of the ten biggest cities in the world.
- Smallest Country: Suriname. The country is one of the 10 most sparsely populated countries in the world.
- Biggest Island: Tierra del Fuego (Spanish meaning: Land of Fire), at the southern tip of Argentina and Chile
For more South American facts, check out this website for kids: South American facts for kids.
When we take an international trip, we must bring our passports. So, our first activity is to add our personal details to our passport. Here is a link to a free, easy DIY passport you can print out for your children by Shruti at makeandtakes.com: https://www.makeandtakes.com/diy-mini-passport-book
Find your destination on a world map
- Give your child a pointer (stick, wooden spoon, or any other long object).
- Find your current location on the map with the pointer
- Next, find the continent of South America
- Finally, have your child locate Peru
We’ll be flying into Cuzco, Peru to go on the Inca Trail!
Sing the continent song while you take off in your virtual airplane. Fly around the house.
Cuzco and altitude sickness
When you land in Cuzco, explain that most travelers need a few days to adjust to the high altitude. Cuzco is located at 11,152 feet (3,3,99 meters) above sea level. There’s less oxygen up here. This makes it more difficult to breathe. Travelers are advised to rest and do very little while they acclimatize.
Fortunately for us, this is a virtual trip so we can get started right away.
Try the local cuisine – guinea pig
Will you children try this popular local dish? In Peru, guinea pigs are considered a delicacy. That’s right I said guinea pigs, known locally as cuy. Incans have been eating cuy for centuries. If you’d like to read more about it, here’s an article on guinea pig farming for restaurants.
The Inca Trail and Machu Picchu
Now we’re ready to start. We’ll be following an ancient Incan trail for four days to get to the famous lost city of Machu Picchu.
“The multi-day Machu Picchu hike allows you to explore the Andean mountains, the cloud forest and Peruvian jungle, following the original route the Incas used to take 500 years ago. The Inca Trail is a spectacular and once-in-a-lifetime adventure!”- http://www.incatrail-peru.com/inca-trail-info-description
The Inca Trail is tough. To simulate the Inca Trail, lead your kids through a series of exercises. Be sure to include ‘mountain climbers’ because when you follow the Inca Trail you’ll be climbing up to the top of Dead Woman’s pass at 13,828 feet (4,215 meters). It’s the highest point of the Inca Trail.
Click on this link to see how to perform ‘mountain climbers’ correctly.
If you want to listen to traditional Andean instruments while you do your exercises, play this video: Music of the Andes – Pan Pipes – Spirit of the Incas. The music is really nice.
Now, you’re ready to see the trail and Machu Picchu. Below, I’ve shared links to three videos. The first is a nice overview. The second is great for younger children (ages 4-8) and the third video is best for older children (9-adult).
This video has spectacular aerial footage and great music. It’s called the road to Machu Picchu:
Here’s a great video for kids:
This is a National Geographic video, best for older children. It gives some history of the trail and has great footage:
Wasn’t Machu Picchu amazing?
Next stop – Brazil and the Amazon Rainforest!
Brazil and the Amazon Rainforest
Now we head to Brazil to explore the Amazon Rainforest. So, grab your mosquito repellent and some sunscreen. Here we go!
Have your child locate Brazil on the world map.
Since we’re going into the rainforest, it’s the perfect time to make our very own rain sticks.
- Sturdy cardboard tube (We used the empty cardboard tube from an aluminum foil roll.)
- Large, brown paper grocery bag
- Pipe cleaners and/or craft wire
- Beads, rice, beans, or other material for inside the rainstick
Paint your cardboard tube brown and leave it to dry while you go onto the next activity. When it’s fully dry, you can come back to this craft!
Instructions for rainstick craft (simply click on this link or the photo above to go to the BuggyandBuddy website for complete instructions on creating this fun rainstick).
Make a Rainforest Animal Fact File
1. Show this PowerPoint presentation on ‘Animals of the Amazon’ and have your child select one animal to research: Animals-of-the-AmazonApr2020.
2. Go to https://www.kiddle.co/, a safe visual search engine for kids. Have your child search for the rainforest animal they’ve selected.
3. Fill out this fact file on your rainforest animal. The template is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for free. Here is the link to the template: Free Download of Animal Research Template. This comes from the Making Lemonade in Second Grade website if you’d like to read more about how this second grade teacher uses it.
4. You may want to find a drawing tutorial for your rainforest animal. My kids love the Kids Art Hub channel on YouTube for child-friendly drawing tutorials. Here’s a video of one of their drawing tutorials for a sloth (they also have a toucan, tree frog, jaguar and a few other animals of the Amazon).
Baking Time! Make Alfajores (Argentinian Cookies)
Now it’s time to head to Argentina. Locate Argentina on the map.
Put on some tango music and head to the kitchen to make alfajores – soft, sweet, crumbly shortbread sandwich cookies filled with dulce de leche.
Here’s a link to the recipe if you’d like to try your hand at making these delicious cookies.
Or, if you want an easier recipe to make with your children, try dulce de leche crispies (instead of marshmallows, use dulce de leche). Here’s the recipe.
South American Soccer
One thing many South American countries have in common is a love of soccer.
This link will take you to a history of football (soccer) in South America.
Here’s a ‘Best Goals Battle’ video of three of the most famous South American football players: Messi (Argentina) vs. Pele (Brazil) vs. Maradona (Argentina). Enjoy!
I hope you had as much fun visiting South America as we did. And there’s so much more to see. One day, I hope you’ll have a chance to explore this fascinating continent in person.
Tomorrow, we’re off to Europe!
Hasta luego. See you later (Spanish)
Até mais tarde. See you later (Portuguese)
Here’s an introduction to the unit: