My son has taken quite a liking to Fox News lately, especially Bill O’Reilly. He cringes and shakes his head at the random people interviewed on Watter’s World and asks us, “Are people really that ignorant about the world around them?” Unfortunately, yes some people are, possibly because they want to live in a small, safe bubble away from the hurt of the world, or because they feel politics has become too confusing to understand. Maybe because they just simply do not care.
Regardless of their reasons, there really is no excuse.
As parents, it is our responsibility to teach our son about the world, politics and all, good and bad. It is also our responsibility to encourage him to form and stick to his own opinions, be fully ready to defend those views, while also respecting the views of others. It is our responsibility to make sure that he understands the importance of not becoming like one of those crazies on Watter’s World.
We have three activities currently going on in our house that are helping our son learn about the world around him. These are helping him see that what happens thousands of miles away CAN have an impact on our family.
- Tracking natural disasters around the world.
- Tracking the politics and data of countries around the world.
- Teaching simple economic concepts.
In the image above is a natural disaster poster from the book DK Eyewitness Books: Natural Disasters. I feel so fortunate to receive a monthly supply of great DK books including this one. Many of their Eyewitness and reference books contain the most beautiful posters and clip art CDs. This book taught my son all about every natural disaster known to man, including potential future disasters.
The other portion of that image is a world map that I created, along with a map key for various natural disasters. Whenever we hear about a natural disaster on the news or online, we use a small sticker to map where the disaster took place. You can download a copy of the map and stickers here. The stickers represent droughts, volcanoes, landslides, wildfires, tsunamis, earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods.
The other activity that we have been working on is a massive poster board (2 poster boards taped together actually) that compare and contrast the politics and demographics of 25 countries around the world. Along the left side are the 25 countries.
Along the top are the following categories:
- Government type
- Homeschool laws
- Official language
- Majority religion
- Relationship with USA
- Foreign aid received from USA
- Area in square miles
- Military size
- Life expectancy
- National debt
Understanding the evolution of money and economics is one of the keys to fully understanding a government. The way a country’s citizens and leaders feel about the distribution of money sets them up as either capitalist, socialist, communist and so on. Learning the basic concepts of economics is very important for any kid, and any adult for that matter. If you are a Watter’s World fan, you have undoubtedly witnessed dozens upon dozens of clueless Americans who have no concept of economics and believe money grows on trees. Two excellent resources for teaching simple economics are:
Show Me the Money: How to Make Sense of Economics by DK Publishing
- This book teaches many important concepts including how people invented money and how we went from cows to gold to plastic.
- Who were men like Karl Marx, Adam Smith, and John Maynard Keynes and why were they important.
- How money is physically made.
- The ins and outs of the stock market and ways you can make your money grow over time.
- Spending, saving and investing tips.
- What is inflation.
I love the pages on luxury vs necessity. All of this in a book for KIDS. No complicated explanations.
Economics for Everybody by Compass Classroom
- DVD or download
- 12 lessons, includes videos and study book
- junior high/high school level
Economics: it’s everywhere, influencing everything — and so rarely understood. Economics for Everybody seeks to remedy that through an insightful and entertaining exploration of the principles, practices, and consequences of economics. Thoroughly unconventional, this church, family, and homeschool economics curriculum links entrepreneurship with lemonade, cartoons with markets, and Charlie Chaplin with supply and demand.