Thursday, June 30, 2011

Finding My Place in This World

We are celebrating Independence Day this week. It's difficult to explain to a three year old that we are celebrating our country's birthday... especially when he doesn't exactly understand what I mean by "country". He does, however, sort of understand our home, our street, our city, and maybe a little about our state. Last weekend, we traveled across state lines from Missouri to Illinois so we had an opportunity to talk about that. However, I decided to try and help him visualize where we fit in this big wide world with a simple nesting cup activity. (I used to do this with older kids when I was teaching, so this is a lesson we will probably repeat many times).
We began with the largest nesting cup which I termed "Our world".

The next cup represented "Our country". I put it inside our world.
Inside of that cup, I placed "Our State, Missouri".

Inside of our state, I put our town.

Inside of our town, I put our street.

Inside of our street, I put our house.

Of course, you could break this down in different ways to fit your region. You could also include continents, counties, etc. This was all that I could get a three year old to attend to.

After doing our nesting cups, we made a playdough map of the world. I found this idea at Hubbards Cupboard. Basically we just put a big blob of playdough on our country and then stuck USA flags into the playdough. My boys are really into playdough, so this was a huge hit.

I'm linking this up:

It's Playtime at hands on : as we grow

play academy

This week's theme at the Smart Summer Challenge is Me on the Map. I thought this activity would fit wonderfully!

smart summer button '11

Oh, and check out some of our favorite books to celebrate America's Birthday!


  1. That is a wonderful way to teach the little kids! love it, thanks for sharing:)

  2. very clever! I may have to try that with my 3 year old. It's a tough concept for a little guy to grasp.

  3. oh, I love it! we are taking virtual vacations all around the world this summer-
    new follower!

  4. Love, love, love! Our plan is to do this with stacking blocks tomorrow! I saw this post and was just going to ask you to add it to the Smart Summer linky (up right now at my site!) and then I saw you have the button there all shiny and ready to go! Hope you'll come add the link to our widget!

  5. Such a simple and accessible idea, but oh so effective!

  6. Great idea and wonderful new way to use nesting cups/bowls!!

    : )

    Thanks for linking up and sharing with our Smart Summer Challenge!

    Pink and Green Mama

  7. what a great way to teach this concept to little ones! Many of my elementary students are also confused by this- I'd love to try something like this with them.

  8. Wonderful idea to offer "where we live" a bit more concretely! Thanks for the post!

  9. Once again, very cute idea! So from the great Commonwealth of Massachusetts to the lovely state of Missouri...have a wonderful weekend celebrating the birth of our country! :)

  10. This is a pretty neat idea! My daughter is almost 5 and she is still vague about country concept despite a lot of geography "enlightenment" in our house. We do add continents to this hierarchy and use our matryoshka doll to make it visual.

  11. I think this is a great way to introduce geography to a little one! Thanks for sharing on It's Playtime

    Rachele @ Messy Kids

  12. I absoluately LOVE this idea! Found it on Pinterest! Thank you for sharing - I'm getting ready to work on continents with my son and what a great way to visualize the lesson!

  13. We just made something similar: While looking at yours I noticed you are also in Missouri! Awesome!