Coronavirus got you stuck at home? Being quarantined is no fun, especially if it means having to cancel spring break and summer travel plans. Regain some of your travel excitement by sharing the world with your kids- at home! Follow these creative ideas to teach world geography at home to stay excited about future travels.
As a full-time travel family, COVID-19 hit us hard. Coronavirus was declared a global pandemic the week before we were scheduled to leave Argentina for Europe via one week in Brasil, and we found ourselves with flight after flight canceled. We finally scheduled a self-imposed quarantine at an AirBnB in Buenos Aires over a frantic 72-hour weekend of trying to figure out where we could (and should) stay, and now we, like many others in the world, find ourselves looking at the walls of our house instead of the great outdoors just beyond our reach.
It’s devestating to know that the European leg of our trip around world is indefinitely postponed, and that, even worse, it could be months before we’re allowed to visit family in our home country.
For us and other active families staying indoors is just not ideal. Yes, the bright side of spending more quality time together is great, but knowing there are places and people we love just beyond our reach is downright depressing.
So how are we handling it?
Instead of taking a plane to the next location we’re welcoming the world into our home.
Here are 10 creative ways to travel from home while quarantined with children:
1. Find an international Video Pal
When I was in elementary school we had pen pals. Times have changed, and nowadays my son sends video messages to his friends around the world.
As the social media unites the world, consider allowing it to unite our children, too. Join Facebook groups for traveling families to find other English-speaking families living around the world. Have a specific country you’d like your child to learn about? Join a Facebook group for expats of that country! In any case, a simple post requesting a video pal for your son or daughter will inevitably catch the interest of multiple other parents whose kids need a new face during quarantine, too.
Nearly everyone in the world is experiencing some form of COVID-19 quarantine, so this is a great opportunity for your child to prepare a list of questions for their video friend not just about the country they are living in, but also how they are doing while stuck at home. Are they able to leave their house? Are they having school at home? What is the first thing they want to do when they are able to travel again?
Your kids can not only learn about other cultures, but about how to empathize with someone who lives a totally different life than they do. After all, a global pandemic is something we can all relate to!
2. Use a travel scratch-off map to talk about where you want to go
While most people use a travel scratch-off map to mark the places they’ve been, a more creative idea is to scratch off the places you want to go!
Using a scratch-off map is a great opportunity to teach your kids about world geography and get them involved in a fun activity to talk about individual countries and continents. Kids will love using the included scratching tools to uncover their new travel goals!
Make the activity even more personal by letting each family member decorate their own push pins. Tack the map onto a piece of cardboard or cork board and allow each person to put their pin in their designated country!
This scratch-off map features colorful countries kids will love, plus comes with a free bonus scratch map of the America and the 50 states!
3. These travel documentaries are great for families who need a Netflix break
Need a break from talking to your kids? No judgement here. It does make you feel a little less guilty if the show is educational, at least!
We always watch travel documentaries about upcoming regions as often as possible. While the adults of our family love the in-depth information we receive, our son is captivated by the gorgeous videography and cool sights and animals.
Look for these guilt-free travel showstoppers on Netflix in the USA:
- Our Planet: Features stunning videography of regions of the worlds and the animals that live there.
- Night on Earth: Showcases the plants and animals that come out when the sun goes down
- National Parks Adventure: This 42-minute show produced by Expedia talks about the wonder of the American national parks.
- 72 Cutest Animals and 72 Most Dangerous Animals: Perfect for animal lovers, these series categorize and count down animals from around the world.
4. Travel the world through food
You’re stuck inside all day, anyway, may as well spend a few hours making a new meal together!
As a family, choose a country or region you want to learn more about (or maybe the place you were supposed to visit over Spring Break!) Research common meals, snacks, and deserts, and try your hand at making one or two for dinner one night! Not only will your kids learn about a new culture, this could also be an opportunity to teach them a bit about how to cook.
Two birds, meet stone.
Check this article with 80 authentic recipes from around the world from Tast of Home to get you started!
Remember that you can always use Amazon.com or a local grocery pick-up system to buy unusual ingredients you may need for your recipe. Try to limit going to grocery stores as much as possible!
5. Find travel videos on YouTube
YouTube has no shortage of travel videos to stoke your travel flame. Find everything from educational videos to traveling families to help your family get a mini travel fix and learn something at the same time!
Here are some of our favorite YouTube travel resources:
- Homeschool Pop is one of the favorite YouTube channels among homeschooling families. Among other educational videos for elementary schoolers, they offer geography videos from each of the U.S.’s 50 states to continents to world cultures to planets. This video on the 7 continents is a great place to get started!
- Geography Now is our favorite channel to check before we travel to a new country. The energetic hosts and guests do a great job teaching the basics of each country’s culture and economy in a short time frame. These videos are great for older kids and adolescents!
- Kara and Nate are an American couple currently traveling the world full-time. They have a catalog of hundreds of fun, family-friendly videos from over 100 countries on all 7 continents!
Want even more options? All it takes is searching YouTube for a specific country or general term. You’ll find many, many, many more options for kids of all ages and their families! Truly, YouTube has become a fantastic resource to help us learn and teach our children!
6. Download fun educational travel printables from Amazon
There is a plethora of digital educational resources available on Amazon.com (what did we ever do before Amazon?) This is one of our favorites– a bundle of travel maps, questions, and facts that children can learn from while coloring and decorating. Simply print out the packet, grab some crayons, and have a blast immersing yourself and your kids in world geography!
Older children may be more interested in this booklet which guides them through creating their own country. That’s right- create your own country! You give it a name, design the flag, decide it’s resources and culture, and more. It’s a simple yet fun way to get kids engaged in thinking about what defines a country.
7. Learn phrases from different languages
You may not want to dedicate your family time to learning an entirely new language, but learning a few fun phrases in different languages is easy enough to do!
Use resources like the Coffee Break podcast or Google Translate to either learn a language from start to finish as a family or simply type in common words or phrases to memorize!
You can have a country-themed day or week where you learn phrases and eat foods from and watch videos on just one country or region, or consider assigning each family member a different language and asking them to learn and teach the rest of the family 5 phrases or questions from their language while at home together.
Here are some useful phrases to consider assinging:
- My name is _________.
- I am from __________.
- What is your name?
- How old are you?
- Where is the bathroom?
Make it even more fun by asking your kids to learn and teach silly phrases or jokes in different languages!
8. Send them to sleep with the world on a pillow
An entire day’s arts and crafts activity can be coloring this world map pillow case. This world map pillow cover even comes with permanent fabric markers! This map provides a fun, interactive way to teach kids about regions, continents, and the animals that live in each area.
Teach your child the continents by asking them to color each continenet a different color or let their imagination run wild to decorate how they wish.
When their masterpiece is finished, it’ll serve as a daily reminder of how big and beautiful the world is. Seeing it first thing in the morning and last thing at night will help your child get excited for their next big trip out of the house!
9. Make your own international decorations with crafts from another country
Do some research on Pinterest for crafts from specific countries or regions. There’s a lot out there! Many crafts can be made with things you already have around the house.
After craft time is over, decorate the house with your cultural objects and continue to talk about the countries they are from! It’s a great way to use up time in the house, have your kids get creative and stay busy with hand work, and decorate while talking about geography.
This article from Kinder Art gives plenty of examples of crafts from around the world that will keep K-12 engaged in creativity. It’s a great way to get started!
10. Plan your future trip
Hopefully that Spring Break or summer vacation trip is being rescheduled, not forgotten altogether. Enlist the help of your kids in re-planning it (or a new trip) you can take as a family once the quarantine is lifted!
Use this time to research hotels, fun and educational things to do, and comb Yelp reviews for new restaurants to try. You can even reach out to hotels and travel businesses in that area and ask for vouchers on using their services later! Thanks to your careful planning, all you’ll have to do is hit purchase on that new travel ticket once the travel ban is lifted!
Because the travel ban and home quarantine is just temporary. You will travel again (to more than just the grocery store for more TP), and, thanks to this crazy interruption in the world, you and your children will appreciate the gift of travel more than ever.
Or you can always lock them up in the house again until they do.
Pin this article on ideas to homeschool geography for later!