Our adventures around the world with Build Your Library has lead us to Europe. We’ve been working through the continent v.e.r.y. s..l..o..w..l..y, leaving lots of space for extra reading, projects, and play. Join us as we visit the United Kingdom!
Elementary Europe Unit Studies
Exploring the U.K.
We loved the beautiful illustrations of London and Ireland in Miroslav Sasek‘s This is Series: This is London and This is Ireland. These books gave us a peek into the sights and daily life in contrasting parts of the U.K.
Madeline was a favorite from our unit on France, and Madeline in London fit perfectly with this unit, too. Madeline also goes to London in Season 1, Episode 3 of Madeline, The Original Specials. These sweet and funny shows go right along with the book, uses much of the same wording and all of the same adventures, and makes the shows feel familiar and fun after reading the books.
The Magic Tree House obsession continues. We read at least one of these books each week with our Europe unit. I can’t say enough about how engaging these books are, especially with such a variety based in Europe. They have inspired such an interest in other places and times with my oldest. He enjoys reading them himself and listening on cd, and they are easy and quick read-alouds for me.
Learning about modern day London alongside Kings, Queens, and Knights of the past inspired many of the activities we/he came up with. We’ve read The Knight at Dawn a few times, now. It is a magical adventure into the times of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. We read this before watching The Sword and the Stone featuring many of the same characters and the mythical story of how King Arthur became king. He also loved the Fact Tracker companion, Knights and Castles for some real information about the sights and times of old England.
Book 15 Viking Ships at Sunrise we see Jack and Annie travel back to Ancient Ireland during the Viking invasion. This was an especially exciting trip, and the Fact Tracker companion, Vikings, gave us a closer look at the actual events, ships, and gear worn by the Vikings.
For more European Unit resources, playlists, and movies see this post.
Build Your Library dedicated five weeks to European studies, but we spent seven weeks working our way through the continent. We started our winter break a little later than I’d planned, but it was worth it to see my son having so much fun exploring beyond the written curriculum.
Learning about castles and knights, kings and queens was so much fun. The movies and books sparked a lot of interest in both of my kids. We talked about the real queen, princes, and princesses of England and had a great time pretending to be princes and princesses of the past!
Our role playing started with crowns and costumes and grew until we had two warring kingdoms in our house! The kids had so much fun creating their crowns and painting castles. We posted the castles on their bedroom doors. To protect their kingdoms they made a moat full of alligators! Here they are making the dangerous leap across the deep and frightening water.
I found the crowns and castle paintings on Pinterest. Here are a few of the ideas we used to support our imaginary adventures. Ours weren’t nearly as Pinterest Perfect, but we still had a lot of fun.
Capture the Flag
When the two kingdoms started warring I knew it was time to take it outside. We created two “flags” which were just pieces of construction paper with their initials. I taped the flags to opposite sides of the yard, and the kids ran to capture the flag and then back to return their own flag to the rightful kingdom. I wish I had taken a video of this. It was hilarious. My little people running right past each other. Yelling the whole time. They never quite got the hang of protecting their own flags, but after running the length of the yard about twenty times they were worn out and begging for a royal snack!
“Come sit down and pour a cup; it’s time for tea.
One cup is for you, and one’s for me!”
We had a very serious tea for royals with real Chamomile tea and honey with triangle cut PBJ’s, but the favorite part was reenacting tea time with the play set. Baking the cake in their kitchen, pouring tea, and sipping with our pinkies out was at once very British and totally silly. I hope to add a regular poetry tea at some point during the year.
This LeapFrog play tea set was a gift for my daughter’s first birthday, and boy we have gotten our use out of it! This is one of the few toys that has remained in heavy rotation for nearly three years, and is played with by all three kids – ages 1 to 5.
Our culminating activity just HAD to be food. So my husband and son donned their matching aprons and got to work on a delicious meal of corned beef and cabbage. They used this recipe from All Recipes, and it turned out fantastic!
We loved eating our way around Europe – especially visiting a French bistro and dining on Greek “sheep,” but finding a recipe, shopping for ingredients, and cooking together (for hours – corned beef is an all day project!) got us thinking and working together in new ways. This was the first time my oldest got into the preparation part of the food. Since then, we’ve been reading recipe books and cooking a few meals together every week.
It’s pretty special to see him inspired by a unit that began as a simple Europe study of geography, animals, and culture. His interest and desire to learn allows us all to take these lessons to the next level.