This fun stop in South America will teach fun facts about Peru for kids! What’s the story behind Machu Picchu? What do they like to eat in Peru? And, best of all, let’s play as we learn some Peru facts for kids.
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Peru is near and dear to my heart, so I was very excited to take the kids to Peru on our Around the World series. Peru, or more specifically Machu Picchu, was a bucket list item for me as a teenager. I don’t know why, I just always dreamed about going to Machu Picchu.
I was able to go for a month after my senior year of college, before I began official adult life. And I’d love to go back someday and take the kids to Peru!
In this Around the World with Kids, you can teach the history of Peru for kids, along with some fun activities, food, and fun facts about Peru. Let’s Go learn All About Peru!
Table of Contents
Check out these awesome books we use in today’s Around the World trip to Peru with the kids!
We use The Travel Book and Lonely Planet Kids-The Travel Book quite often in our “Around the World” journeys. We found some great Peru facts for kids in here. Find out more of why we love these travel books!
Fun Facts About Peru
Capital of Peru: Lima
Population: about 30.5 million
Landscape: about 60% of Peru is dense rainforest
Sports and Activities: Soccer is the sport of choice, while baseball and basketball are also enjoyed! Cockfighting is also popular, along with surfing along the many beaches.
Language: Spanish is the main language of Peru. Native/regional languages include Aymara and Quechua.
Geography of Peru
Size: just under 500,000 sq. miles, slightly smaller than Alaska
Peru comes in as the third largest country in South America.
Peru’s geography is made of the coast, the jungle and the mountains.
About one-third of Peru’s population lives in the Andes mountains. This is a large, highland region that has a high elevation. Because the locals are accustomed to living here for a long time, they have developed thick chests and large lungs for their body to efficiently take in oxygen.
The larger cities (Lima, Trujillo, Chiclayo) are mostly located in the coastal regions.
More Peru facts for kids…
The majority of Peru’s economy is based off of mining, oil and gas, agriculture, and tourism.
Family is the most important unit and is the center of communities.
Peru has many celebrations and festivals all year long!
Popular and Powerful Animals of Peru
Because you cant learn fun facts about Peru without learning about the animals of Peru!
As Peru is a coastal country, it has a vast amount of sea life. It also has over 1,800 bird species.
A big symbol within Peru is the Andean Condor, a large Peruvian bird.
The Condor stretches to roughly 10 feet in wingspan. The Condor has been used in mythology and folklore as the sun deity, and is thought to rule the upper world. It is a symbol of both power and health.
Llamas are often associated with Peru as well. They are pack animals and were used before horses and donkeys. Llamas were used both long ago and still today for their meat and their fiber. The layers of hair are used to make clothing and handicrafts.
The Jaguar is also one of the important animals in Peru. It lives in the Amazon among the riverbanks, and contrary to most cats, jaguars love the water and swimming.
Peru’s rich soil means that jaguars find Peru a nice home, giving them plenty of fruits and food to eat.
How to tell a jaguar from a leopard? Look at the spots. The leopard’s spots are solid, whereas the jaguar spots are more like rings with the natural fur color inside.
Fun Facts about Peru Culture
The culture of Peru is a mix of the Incas, Spanish, and settlers over the years. One thing that’s prevalent in Peru is the importance of religion and family.
Many families are multi-generational homes. This means that when the kids grow up, they live with the parents to help take care of them as they age.
Art is very important to Peru culture. Lots of the art in Peru is influenced by the Inca and even from before the Inca.
Making clothing is an artform and many Peruvians will use cotton, alpaca, llama, and sheep for wool and yarn.
Food is very important to Peruvian culture, though the types of food vary by geography. If you lived near the ocean, you would see more seafood. Amazon dwellers eat a lot of fish and fruit. And many people in the country eat meat and potatoes.
Religion in Peru
The idea of Jesus reached Peru around 500 years ago. Since then, the country has turned 90% Catholic.
Remote tribes of Peru were able to avoid being taken over by settlers and have held onto their Incan beliefs.
Music of Peru
You can find a variety of music all across Peru. Ancient civilizations used Andean folk music and panpipes. Incas used flutes, panpipes, conch shells, and drums.
Though you may instantly think of panpipes and only panpipes, Peru actually has a wide variety of music.
Some places you may hear songs from the 80’s that you recognize, you may hear Cumbia style music, latin pop hits, or traditional music of the Andes. It all depends where you go.
The Inca and Machu Picchu Facts for Kids
Here are a few fun Machu Picchu facts for kids. Machu Picchu was re-discovered in 1911, though it was originally built over 500 years ago by the Incas.
At a high elevation of 8,000 feet, Machu Picchu consists of many buildings, palaces, temples, and observatories. The Incas were a community that worked together. As one structure was finished, they all worked together to build the next.
Machu Picchu is Peru’s top tourist attraction and has become one of the New 7 Wonders of the Modern World.
You can go to Peru and tour Machu Picchu today. It involves flying into Cusco and taking a bus up a rather narrow mountainside to the ancient city.
Cusco was the Inca Capital and home base as they fought with tribes nearby. Oral legends begin in the year 1200, and historical records can be found back to the 1400’s. What started as a relatively small tribe expanded into a large tribe, and by the 1400’s they found another capital at Quito (present-day Ecuador).
Machu Picchu Inspired Activity
This building idea is one of the great Peru activities for preschoolers since it works on those fine motor skills. But older kids love it, too. They’ll all have fun and enjoy building.
Give the kids a box of sugar cubes. If there is one child, they can do this individually. If there is more than 1 child, they have to work together on building a home or structure out of sugar cubes. This helps demonstrate how the Inca worked together to build Machu Picchu over 500 years ago.
Continued History of Peru
The Spanish became interested in Peru as they sought for El Dorado, the city of gold. Francisco Pizarro arrived in Peru in 1532. He requested to meet the emperor of the Incas, Atahualpa.
Atahualpa took 5,000 men with him to meet Pizarro and his men, but they did not know the new conquistadors had guns, horses, and armor. Most of the Incas were killed during this surprise and the emperor Atahaulpa was taken prisoner.
Atahaulpa promised a room of gold and two rooms of silver for his release, and delivered such when the Spanish agreed; but they did not hold up their end up the agreement and killed Atahaulpa.
Peru was then ruled by Spanish colonization for 300 years, until 1821 when Peru became independent. Peru was freed by General José de San Martín, who had just led Chile to freedom from Spanish rule.
The Nazca Lines
In the south of Peru, in the Nazca desert lie the Nazca Lines. The Nazca Lines are believed to have been created as early as 500 BC.
These huge drawings can only be seen from up in the air, where you can see dozens of figures, animals, and humans. The lines have remained for thousands of years thanks to the isolated, dry location.
While no one knows for sure what the lines mean, some believe them to be either or religious/spiritual meaning or have some sort of astrology meaning.
Nazca Lines Activity
Another great and easy Peru activity for kids.
We took the opportunity after learning about the Nazca Lines to make our own! I gave the kids a big tub and dumped about 6 cups of flour in. You can also try rice, oat flour, beans…whatever you have.
Then, I prompted them to create their own design that might be meaningful. The rest of us had to guess what the meaning was!
Arts and Crafts of Peru
History remains in much of the pottery of Peru. Within the pottery, you can see visual pieces from the Nazca, Chavín, Chimu and other civilizations. Pottery was and still is made with bright colors and often include fish, birds, and other animals.
Everyday life is represented in the art of the Mohica culture. Different pictures may include kids playing, someone with a toothache, or a mother cleaning.
Handicrafts and textiles are a big part of Peru’s culture as well. You can see clothing and crafts made of bright colors!
Fun Peru Crafts for kids
With this inspiration, we decided to do some simple creating of our own. The kids each got a container of playdough. Then, they had to create a piece of pottery.
They created little containers, bowls, or other objects of their imagination. I instructed them to inscribe some sort of history or something about them into their sculpture! This showed how the people of Peru carved history into their art!
Peru Food Facts
Interested in some fun food facts about Peru? Much of Peru’s crops come from the highlands, as the coastal area is too arid and the jungle is too dense.
Popular crops include potatoes, which have adapted to grow above 8,000 feet and become frost resistant; corn, which was sacred to indigineous peoples; and peppers.
Appetizers (piqueo) are a specialty to Peru, and though called appetizers, they often come in filling portions. Traditional dishes include boiled potatoes with peanut and cheese; beef heart with peppers and seasoning; and empanadas.
Due to the high population of Roman Catholic people, fish is often served on Fridays.
Peruvians love their sweets as well, and a bakery can be found on many streets! At every bakery you can find alfajores, sandwich style cookies filled with a dulce de leche-type filling.
They are kind of a dense, dry shortbread-like cookie, sandwiched with a caramel-like filling. Yum.
Peruvian Foods to Make at Home
Here are some Alfajores from Somewhat Simple that we made, and they didn’t disappoint! I made alfajores maybe a little too often when I returned from Peru. They are really good.
For dinner we tried a recipe for Empanadas from South America to the World. I didn’t have the anise it called for, but we followed the recipe for everything else and they turned out really good!
It says to add the Worcestershire sauce and soy sauce if it’s too dry, but I recommend adding it anyway. The sauces added a great flavor!
The kids can definitely help make this Peruvian dinner. My older child helped pinch the ends together, which my younger child got to “paint” the empanadas with the egg. This was a great way to involve kids as we learned about foods of Peru.
All About Peru for Kids
I hope the kids have enjoyed learning fun facts about Peru and gotten to make and taste some great things.
Make sure to ask the kids:
What were your favorite facts about Peru?
What did you find interesting about the culture of Peru?
What’s your favorite Peru animal?
Be sure to share these different activities, food, and history of Peru on Pinterest!
Looking for more Around the World Fun? Check out these other South America Posts!