Monday, April 23, 2012
A couple of years ago, we made a map of the United States out of cookie dough. The project was a great success, though I do not know how much real progress we made in geography that day. Now that the kids are a little older, I thought we'd have another geography baking day, this time with Africa, as it had come up often in conversations of late. It is also; one spot in the world where millions of people speak French and English that we do not often think about. Linguistically rich, there are hundreds of tribal languages spoken and written in the many countries of Africa. I wanted to help the children realize the scope and rich variety of what is collectively called Africa.
The candy part being fun is a given. Aragorn had a moment of genius in the supermarket, when I sent him for posterboard for a base (last time we put it on a cookie sheet or a tray, whatever it was, it was not big enough and I did not get it back for days and days.) We had been searching for blue candy and wracking our brains over what we could use to create water without resorting to frosting (no one in our house will eat the stuff). He came up to the check-out with blue posterboard; just add waves~
Creating Africa, sorting out borders, deserts and rivers was fun. I think those were crocodiles in the Nile and pyramids in Egypt, jungles in the Congo and Rwanda. We tried at first, to form borders for each country out of thin strips of candy, but we did not find it easy tostick on without the danged frosting we had eschewed. We gave up after Togo, Benin and some lines for Senegal and the Cote d'Ivoire. Burkina Faso was too tiny to do right, and in the final photos, it is hard to see any borders at all. We did not forget Madagascar, la Reunion and Ile Maurice, since la Reunion had once been the destination of our dreams, pre-children. (The kids could not believe we did not go when we had the chance, what can I say? Toulouse held other promises at the time. I still love Toulouse.)
The next assignment dealt with research; Lily did research on how many African countries spoke French and Aragorn drew a map of not just Africa, but the world, so that we could all situate Africa, free-hand. I would like to say that this was a difficult and laborious task for him, but he likes to draw too much for that. Alienor poured over picture books of island nations with beautiful blue water, including la Reunion, and did a report on Tahiti, nowhere near Africa, but they do speak French. Arthur built castles out of the remaining candy. They all stuffed themselves silly and needed a week to recover from a sugar overdose, of course. Do we know a ton more about Africa now? We know it's there, it is beautiful and that our African friends may each come from very different places. The munchkins say that if we can make another map, their recall will much improve. Nice try.