Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Continent Boxes - South America

I have been so excited to share this Continent Box for weeks now. I have been learning along with DJ about the various cultures of the world and from the beginning the continent of South America seemed to be the most unknown to me. Fortunately DJ's Aunt Kim spent a great deal of time in South America in her youth and she and her parents have made a huge contribution to this box.

Unlike my North America post, you'll see DJ wanted to be a part of this photo shoot. For each of the 7 continents, I bought photo boxes in the Montessori colors of the continents. The front name plate has the name of the continent and I cut out the shape of South America on sandpaper and pasted it to the top. Then I added a few fun travel and vacation stickers that I got from a scrapbooking friend.
For animals of South America, I have the Rainforest Safari Toob set, World Animal cards purchased from Target's $1 spot and 3-part cards printed from the Montessori Print Shop's South America bundle. I don't think any of the animals are placed in the precise region they would be found. At this stage, we're just identifying them with the continent. Also, I'm a bit disappointed that I don't have a river dolphin. DJ learned about them on the Amazon episode of Octonauts and really liked the idea of a dolphin that lives in a river.
Also from the Montessori Print Shop South America bundle, I printed these pictures cards. I don't remember how many there are but there is a good stack of pictures of people, clothing, food, buildings, etc. It is this collection of photos that made me want to purchase the set. I can source images like this from the internet but there are SO many choices and often without a clear description of what is shown and where it's from. This set does that work for me.
I bought a pack of toothpick world flags on Amazon. DJ absolutely adores pinning these into a print out of South America on plain paper. The world flag set seemed to be very comprehensive until we actually matched them to a map and discovered they didn't include Guyana, Suriname or French Guinea. So if you happen to live in any of those countries, I apologize on behalf of the flag vendor.
As you see in the flag picture, we use these cards to help me identify which flag matches which country. I made these with 4x6 photo paper. I printed an image of each capital city on the photo side and then placed an Avery label on the back with the country name, city name and picture of the flag. In addition to identifying the flag, we talk about the picture - which cities are metropolitan, old architecture or country village and which cities have mountains or ocean waves nearby.
For South American money, I purchased a 1 pound lot of world coins but only 9 of them were from this continent. Fortunately my mother-in-law had saved some paper money from her travels in Argentina and Paraguay. Oddly enough, DJ is currently most enamored of this paper money, perhaps because his parents pay for nearly everything with a credit card.
I also bought a set of world stamps on Amazon. Oddly enough, I ended up with a bunch from only 4 countries - Paraguay, Uruguay, Chile and Colombia. I'm sensing a very definite lack of representation from Brazil in this box!  But no lack of enthusiasm from DJ!
I found a set of World Landmark cards on a Montessori materials exchange group and of the 45 cards only 2 are South American. But there is Brazil with her iconic "Christ Redeemer" statue. These cards have a picture on one side and the name, description and location on the back.
From the Safari Toobs World Landmarks sets, there is only one for South America and it's not even  on the continent. These famous Moai statues are found on Rapa Nui (Easter Island), found in the Pacific Ocean west of Chile.
Again on Amazon, I purchased this little Sticker Paper Doll book depicting Brazilian clothing styles. The book has 4 costumes to dress Camina in. As you can see from the photo, each outfit has multiple choices of hats, shoes and in this case a guitar or doll to hold. DJ was particularly intrigued with the basket on her head with what looks like bread in it, or perhaps a pale root vegetable.
There is a Ten Thousand Villages store not far from me. If you are collecting cultural items and have one near you, you absolutely have to visit it. The store is full of handmade items from third world countries and every item you buy comes with a print out describing where it was made and who made it. This little glass vase was hand-blown from recycled glass scraps collected from dump yards in Bolivia. I believe it was $6 and it is tiny so fits perfectly in my box.  But you can spend hundreds of dollars on full size household decorations, jewelry and more.
If you have done even a cursory search on the culture of South America you will quickly learn about these mate cups, used for drinking a type of tea called Yerba Mate. The cups are made from dried gourds and are decorated some more than others. I bought the red one on the left on Amazon. It is fairly plain with a simple metal rim, a basic metal straw and a small plastic scoop. I was disappointed because the description said it was supposed to come with the tea too but I assume DJ wouldn't like it anyway. The mate cup on the right was given to me by DJ's Aunt Kim and you can see it is much more ornate with even the straw having a metal carving on it.
On a recommendation from Aunt Kim, I also purchased a set of Rosary Beads to represent the prevalence of Catholicism in South America. It is scented with the smell of roses so our whole continent box smells quite pleasant now!  I also found it quite curious to learn from the description on Amazon that this particular Rosary was manufactured in Jerusalem of all places!

The small pottery jar was a gift from my mother-in-law. She tells the story (if I remember it correctly) that they flew into Argentina to visit young Kim and rented a car to drive from the airport to where she was staying. There was a detour in the road that took them through a small village where a girl was selling these small trinkets. She painted the words "Jujuy" on one side and "Purmamarca" on the other, indicating it is from the village of Purmamarca in the Jujuy province of Argentina.

With all of that, our little photo box is pretty full. But there is so much more NOT in the box!
Aunt Kim sent these adorable South American dolls all the way from San Diego. I haven't heard their story from her yet but I'm assuming she purchased them during her travels in Argentina and Paraguay. I left them on the shelf the night I brought them home and DJ saw them first thing the next morning. His face lit up with surprise and glee!
I've written before about my digital version of Montessori art folders. In an effort to avoid it being typically Eurocentric, I've decided to add famous art from each continent. For South America, I have this Peruvian Headress from around 700CE, a picture of the Christ Redeemer statue and the Easter Island Moai, a collection of pictures painted by Anita Malfatti and a couple of works by Antonio Berni.
Also not in the box is this Melissa & Doug Rainforest puzzle. There is a lot of things that I love about this puzzle and the fact that it depicts life in a South American rainforest is definitely one of them. When most preschool toys depict cars, trains, basic shapes, letters, domestic animals, farm animals and television characters, I truly appreciate an opportunity for some diversity.
Speaking of television, DJ and I are still enjoying this series of Travel with Kids. You can watch it free on Amazon with a Prime membership. This episode focuses on Peru and specifically Machu Picchu. I was so enthralled by this show I found myself checking prices for travel to Peru which is unfortunately way out of our family's price range. But I do appreciate the chance to live vicariously through this series.

So that is our South America continent in a box. As with all the continents, it is just a start. Just enough to pique interests, bring up questions and begin to hint and similarities and differences.

Click here to see other continent box posts:

Continent Boxes - North America
Continent Boxes - Asia

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