Learning About Canada
Homeschool families study geography differently, some study by era (ancient, middle ages, and modern) and others study by a timeline, using inventions or other events to learn about places. We just picked a country and started studying… our first country was Canada. Canada is our friendly neighbor to the north and so it made sense to start there. I will note that prior to studying any particular country, we studied the continents. Once my kids could identify the continents, we focused on North America… learning a few facts about North America (that there are 23 countries in North America, the largest river, the biggest and smallest countries, the biggest city in the continent… and so on). Once they understood the concept of separate continents and learned a bit about North America, we started learning more about Canada and they learned where it was on the map.
I started by purchasing a Canadian Flag and I hung it in our classroom window. I know that not everyone has a classroom, or even wants one, so a full size flag might be out of the question but there are a few other sizes to hang on the wall. We did a cute project where we used red paint and handprints to make our own Canadian Flags.
Next we learned the national anthem O’Canada. You can find this on YouTube with lyrics. The kids had fun singing the anthem. As we were learning the anthem, we also started learning each of the 10 provinces and 3 territories. To help with this I purchased these 3 books…
The above books really came in handy! The workbook Canada by Evan Moore is no longer being sold on their site and was released in 1995, which was a LONG time ago, but I still used it. There are some projects and crafts in this book, along with workbook pages. I used it because it had some great information and though the population information wasn’t completely accurate… 95% of the workbook was great, and since there aren’t many on Canada anyway… this workbook was very helpful… in fact if I had to choose out of the 3 I would choose this one. It covered a lot of information, had activities, taught a little French, had report pages… it was very informative.
Draw Canada is an interesting book. It takes you step by step through how to draw and label Canada, including provinces, territories, bigger lakes and islands. Many parents actually cut out the pages, put them in page protectors, and put those into a 3 ring binder. I didn’t do that but I can see how that would be helpful. This book also covers Greenland, we didn’t draw that as it’s owned by Denmark, but it is there should you want to.
Wow Canada! is a unique book that my kids really liked. Basically it is the journal/scrapbook of a boy whose family is driving across Canada. They visit all 10 provinces and 3 territories, and showcase each area’s local flavor. The mom and dad in the book are funny and the trip is pretty awesome. I like that it was written from a child’s perspective… even though it is a fictitious trip and not actually written by a child, the book feels like it all happened.
Geography/History fit into our schedule 2 days a week and so we would use all of the books at the same time. We would spend a few minutes drawing Canada, work on a project or workbook page from the Canada book, then read about a province in the Wow Canada book.
Diving Deeper into Canada
Canada is more than provinces, populations, and facts… Canada is rich in natural resources, culture, and more. I realized that teaching the kids about the animals of Canada, the different cultures of the Native Peoples, and information about people from Canada… would be important. I started with animals and the Inuit. Canada has a LOT of animals. I picked up an animal encyclopedia (there are several options, click the link to the left to see them) and a few books. We also watched some documentaries and did some activities when we could.
Animals and Climates
Canada is a big country. There are many different climates… there is the rocky Pacific, the plains of Alberta, the Great Lakes region, Island life, Arctic regions, dense forests, and more… there are as many animals and so we were able to learn about both climates and animals. Animals are an easy subject for kids and we used both books and activities to learn about animals.
Here are some of the books, activities, items we used to help us learn about the animals and climate of Canada, though the book Wow, Canada really covers much of the different climates and our animal encyclopedia helped us learn about many Canadian animals.
- We made some arctic snow dough
- We learned how blubber works on arctic animals
- We drew our favorite Canadian animal
Books (here is a short list but basically any animal from Canada your children really want to learn more about, and these are the ones we bought, we did borrow a few more from the library)
- Polar Bears – All kids LOVE Polar Bears so this is an easy topic. I used several books about Polar Bears, click the link to the left to see books and be able to choose them according to your child’s reading level. I will mention that I also added some fiction books about Polar Bears like Cold Paws, Warm Heart and The Polar Bear Son an Inuit Tale (this is a great crossover book because it involves Inuits as well). I did this for fun and enrichment, the kids loved reading them at night and caused them to enjoy the subject more.
- Whales – So whales aren’t entirely a Canadian animal but many Native Peoples of Canada did, and still do, rely on whales for survival. I used a book specifically about Narwhals, but we really learned a lot from a book called Build the Bones: Whales as it includes a model that you can put together of a whale skeleton, which was fun and we still have it up! We also went to YouTube and looked for an Inuit whale hunt. This might be too much for some people but it is a real part of life to some people in Canada.
- Bison– We used a book called Amazing Animals: Bison.
- My Polar Bear Family and Me
- My Wolf Family and Me (this is a good introduction to Arctic Deserts)
Inuits and Native Peoples
- Totem Poles
- Soap Carvings
- Clay Pots
- We drew the Inuit Flag
YouTube (search the phrase below and pick something suitable)
- Inuit Whale Hunt
Well Known People From Canada
We studied Wayne Gretzky (follow link to the book we used) pretty heavily, the kids did a report about him. There are other famous Canadians, but this was someone the kids could identify with, as they are all in organized sports and Wayne is still a figure of today. He has an exhibit at our local children’s museum because he once (and briefly) played in Indianapolis… making this something they really could learn about on different levels. My daughter even helped the actor at the museum, telling him that Wayne used to tuck in one side of his shirt during games, something that the actor didn’t seem to know.
Landmarks and Other Facts
We studied a few french words. Montreal has the second largest French speaking population, next to Paris, and so we thought we should learn a little french, nothing amazing, just a few words.
We talked about how settlers came from Europe. We discussed how the Spanish headed south to what is now Mexico and some of the southern US, how the British mainly settled in the US, and how the French settled in Canada. There is a little overlapping with all of this but the above really helped the kids know more about how the west was settled.
This was a little harder as there aren’t so many Canadian dishes and you don’t think Canadian Food like you would Mexican or Italian, but we found some and bought others.
Recipes We Made
Food We Bought (in Canada see below)
We visited Canada!
This is something not everyone will be able to do and we won’t be able to do as a family for every country, but we were able to do this for Canada. You can read a little more about our trip here, and while in Canada we bought the ketchup chips, maple cookies, and Poutine mentioned above, however, the first 2 are available on Amazon, just follow the links above. Finding a yummy Poutine recipe shouldn’t be too hard, when you do… share it here or head over to Facebook and let me know!
We got to see Canadian money, we took some home, which is cool. Canadian pennies, which aren’t really circulated in Canada anymore, are all over the US so finding one of those shouldn’t be an issue. If you live in a bigger city going to an money exchange place would be able to get you some Canadian cash… just a thought.
We’re done with our study… it makes me sad because we honestly fell in love with the country, Landen really wants to move there! Do my kids know everything about Canada… nope! Will they remember it all… probably not… but they have learned a lot. Funny story…
We were talking about Maine, I’ve always wanted to visit there, anyway Elijah asked me where Maine is. I told him that it’s next to New Brunswick and he said “ok”. I thought to myself that’s not good, but I was still proud he knew where New Brunswick is… we’ll work on Maine and the other 49 states later!
On a whole, I don’t expect my kids to know it all… I expect them to learn some facts, understand there is a whole world out there, and love to learn! Check out our gallery and I hope you find some things useful here!
Bet + Fam 🙂