Having just done an Olympics Theme this summer, I was a little stumped when our Europe lesson came up and I needed some non-Olympic activities to learn about Greece. Here are 6 of the activities I came up with that we both really enjoyed.
1. Make and eat falafels.
Falafels are yummy and easy and healthy, especially if you bake them instead of frying them. My son finds the pocket bread pretty amusing, too. He’s still a little young to be much help in the kitchen, not to mention controlling his impulse to throw everything on the floor, but I could see letting a slightly older child mash the beans with a potato masher.
2. Read Aesop’s Fables.
After going through the fairy tales from central Europe (Hansel and Gretel and Little Red Riding Hood), I was relieved to find some children’s stories that I wouldn’t have to worry would give my son nightmares. We found this great collection of Aesop’s Fables with stories abbreviated enough to maintain his attention and really cool illustrations. His favorite story was The Tortoise and The Hare and he even started pretending with me that we were a tortoise and a hare racing.
3. Make a Greek Vase
No need for a potter’s wheel or a kiln, just make a picture of a vase on construction paper. We started out by looking at examples of Ancient Greek pottery online and talking about their features: the pictures on them, the color of the clay and paint, their shapes. Then I gave him a strip of brown construction paper that I had cut out and asked him to make a repeating pattern of O’s and l’s with a black marker. I could’ve called them zeros and ones, but I used the alphabet. Yes, this is art, language/math, and fine motor skills all in one fell swoop. Maybe it even counts as computer science, but I won’t push it. When he was done, he glued the strip across the middle of a bigger piece of the same brown construction paper that I had cut out in a vase shape. I trimmed the edges and voila! A Greek masterpiece!
4. Have a Tortoise and Hare Car Race
My son looooooves to play cars. I decided to use his cars to stage a tortoise and hare race. I got some tortoise and hare clip art and printed them out about the same size as his largest pull-back cars. Then I cut them out and taped them to the roofs of the cars. We put a masking tape starting line on the floor and raced the cars down the kitchen. Then we used a tape measure to measure how far each one had gone. Had to throw a little math in there.
5. Do Some Gymnastics
Okay, I know I didn’t want to do the whole Olympics thing again, but gymnastics are pretty cool and hard to beat for gross motor skills. We don’t have any special equipment or access to a gym so we just improvised and kept it simple. He was very proud of himself for walking across a piece of 2×4 that served as our balance beam and doing somersaults across the living room with me.
6. Strike a Pose
Another of our favorite activities was posing like statues. We looked online at pictures of Ancient Greek statues. Then we had our own little toga party. We wrapped ourselves in sheets and then I would pose like a statue and have him copy me. Another great activity for gross motor skills, and imagination.
Have you explored Greece or another culture with your preschooler? What activities did you enjoy the most? I’d love to hear your ideas!
If you’d like to see some of the other themes that we’re slowly working through, check out this article.