One day, in the great, vast world of Instagram, I stumbled across a post of this gorgeous letter that had been sent to some lady's kid (I follow a shit ton of Mom's on Insta). So I clicked the photo and the tag for Letters From Afar popped up. I was hooked. For $6 a month, they mail you or your child, a letter from a different place in the world every month. As you can see, they look old and the letters are visually stunning, so the first one that came, Ana was enamored. Lucky for us, our first letter was from India! So we requested some books from our local library about India, I pulled up Pinterest and found some art projects to expand the learning, and we happen to have an Indian market in our city, Spice of India, so we made a stop there too!
Even if you don't have kids, the Letters From Afar Instagram is so worthy of a follow. Their feed is stunning.
We're always looking for new ways to learn, and coming from the public school system, I remember learning about geography by drawing a slip with a country name on it, finding 10 facts, slapping them on a poster board and presenting them. Once. In 6th grade. It was up to our peers to teach us about different countries and while some people, like my brother, were excellent at finding great facts and going above and beyond, a lot of the kids did the bare minimum and it was boring as feck. You know, the "This is the flag....uh....this is where it us....they like this food....that's all I could find," spiel.
Needless to say, this is a great, organic learning opportunity that you can customize a whole unit on and it's something Ana looks forward to every month. We're currently trying to buy the back dated letters to store for future unit's too, which is a nice feature they offer, so we'll let you know when we hear back.
We did a couple projects to go along with our learning. We tried THIS Taj Mahal project, but for the life of me, I couldn't find bleeding tissue paper (I didn't order the one she used, THIS ONE, but the reviews say it bleeds well). I ordered THESE squares from Amazon a while ago that ABSOLUTELY DO NOT BLEED despite their claim, but we ended up using our laminator and lust layering the squares with a black construction paper cut out that I traced and cut to make a silhouette.
The India Mini Book came from one of my favorite sites, Teachers Pay Teachers. You can find the book HERE, and Creative Classroom Core has so many mini books available, it's CRAZY. I printed mine at home, stapled and we read a page and colored the picture on it, making it a quick, but fun learning opportunity.
When we went to our Indian market, we found henna in a tube, so we picked up a tube of it, pulled up a design image on Google, and gave it a shot on Ana's feet. Oh, and Ana did a design on Chris' hand. Notes from our experience:
It's freaking hard and henna artists are INCREDIBLY talented.
It will darken after you pick it off. We let Ana's paste dry for an hour on her feet and when we picked it off before she went to bed, it was very light. When she woke up the next morning, it was at least two shades darker and so was Chris' hand.
I LOVED the smell. It smells a little bit like heaven. After we vacuumed up the dried paste flakes, every time I turn the vacuum on, it smells like henna. I'm not complaining.
We have an appointment set up with Happy Henna too where we'll get an informational lesson and a design done too.
I've put together a list of the books we used for our learning, HERE on Amazon and I included notes on the ones that we liked a lot or ones that stood out. We checked almost all of them out through our local library and even used our Michigan eLibrary for a few, so don't feel like you have to buy them.
One of our favorites though was The Story of Little Babaji, which I've also reviewed on Mrs. Motleys Bookshelf. Ana could not stop laughing when we read it and it was a great book to break up the informational text we used.
We used video's as well. We pulled up a short video of an Indian wedding on YouTube and on our Netflix, we watched:
India's Lost Worlds
India: Natures Wonderland
Tiger: Spy in the Jungle
This was an awesome study unit for us and we can't wait for our next letter from Isabelle and Letters From Afar (hint: the next place was a hit for Darwin and they have their own tortoise...)