This is one of Dominique’s favorite shirts. He’s quite strict about when he wears it, though. He will only put it on in the morning if he knows that the day holds some form of travel. Axa shares his passion for getting from one place to another. But for her, the world is not enough. Lately she has expressed a frequent lament that Narnia is not real. She would like to travel there. In fact, the other day I found this drawing on her desk:
In case you had trouble deciphering the spelling, let me give you hint: Who could resist a direct flight to Narnia on Aslan Airlines?
I have to agree with my children. Traveling is by far the most enjoyable and effective method of learning geography. But there are other ways too. In fact, a couple of months ago I did this guest post on teaching geography to children. Lately, Tony has been doing some geography with the children. First, he bought a cute little globe about six inches in diameter. It’s tiny, but accurate. Even three-year-old Dominique can point out Italy, which remains the children’s ultimate geographical reference point, as well as Tunisia, the United States, and some other countries. Maps are hours of fun too, but I love having a globe. It gives the children a great overall picture of our planet. They can see at a glance why we need to fly all night to get to Italy from California. Coupled with a lamp, it can help me explain day/night, and why Grandma always says “good morning” when we call her right after dinner.
A globe also portrays accurate spatial relationships between countries. It’s sort of like the Round Table at Camelot. No country or part of the world is emphasized at the expense of another. The only flat map I’ve encountered that comes near accomplishing this was part of a cool National Geographic game we had growing up. The centerpiece of the game was a map of the earth made into a puzzle. The pieces were pentagons, which if fitted together three-dimensionally would have formed a sort of dodecahedron “globe.” I spent hours fitting the pieces together differently, seeing how the world looked with Australia at its center, or Africa, or Antarctica.
Tony also wanted to teach the children to draw a map, but it took him a few tries to figure out how to do it in a way that didn’t complicate things too much. In the end, I think he helped them hit on a good balance between making it simple enough for them to draw and understand, and keeping it cartographically recognizable. Axa’s map contains Ireland, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Italy (including Sicily), Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, and Egypt, as well as an arrow directing the reader off the page toward the U.S.A.
Axa has also done a map of Tunisia. It was interesting for me to see which places made the cut as important enough for inclusion on the map, and which ones she asked for help to spell. She chose her own spellings for “Sisle” (Sicily), “Brd Lac” (Ishkeul Lake, where we went to see the migrating birds), and “Sufir Palis” (Safir Palace, the hotel where we stayed in Yasmine Hammamet).