Our next stop in South America is Colombia. This stop is a fun one, as the kids did lots of fun, hands-on activities to learn about Colombia. They especially enjoyed this one.
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Have you taken a look at these? The awesome info in these Travel Books are what inspired the activities today! Check out why we love these books in this post!
Colombia is named after Christopher Columbus, the explorer who found the new world (though he never actually made a visit to Colombia.) The Spanish ruled Colombia from the 1500s to the 1819, when they won their freedom.
Its geography is diverse, going from plains and deserts to mountains and rainforests. Within these areas reside all sort of flora and fauna, as well as many lost tribes that live deep within the rainforest.
Colombia takes pride in having its own Nobel Prize winner: Gabriel García Márquez. He wrote Love in the time of Cholera.
Another well known Colombian is the singer Shakira, whom the kids might know best from her song “Try Everything” from the movie Zootopia.
Did you know that Colombia has the tallest palm trees in the world? They also have the most types of lizards and frogs than anywhere!
The story of El Dorado is known in many lands. El Dorado, meaning “the golden one,” was leader of the Muisca people. He would cover himself in gold dust and go to Lake Guatavita to throw gems in to honor goddess Guatavita. He would then jump into the lake to wash all the gold off. Someone has yet to discover the gold and gems that were thrown in!
Colombia is rich with emeralds! They dig tunnels and around riverbeds to find the green stone, when is then polished into a beautiful, sparkling gem. While they don’t have a monopoly on emeralds, they are close. Colombia mines about 90% of the world’s green stone!
Colombia has the most beautiful, colorful river in the world. Caño Cristales (“liquid rainbow”) has many plants and animals that reflect on the river, making it a colorful sight!
While soccer is a popular sport among Colombians, another tradition is playing Tejo. In Tejo, you throw a “tejo”, which is made of rock/stone. You aim for a steel-pipe target and toss the tejo. Around the pipe are little triangles…that explode! If you hit inside all the triangles and on the target, you get 6 points. If you hit one of the exploding triangles, you get 3 points. Each team plays until someone gets 21 points!
Activities about Colombia
We began our trip to Colombia by listening to Shakira’s “Try Everything” as we sat on our airplane (pillow seats on the floor). When we landed, we read some fun Colombian facts, and added and activity where appropriate.
A Visit to El Dorado
First was our demonstration of El Dorado. Here’s what you need:
- gold or yellow shirts
- little gems (I had a pack of Acrylic Jewels from Walmart on hand, but any colorful, sparkly gems will do)
- Big tub/bucket of water
- tablecloth or dropcloth, or do this outside!
We started by having the kids put on a gold, sparkly shirt. (Well, the girls did. My son put on a yellow button down from dad!) Then they took a seat on their “boat” (a pillow) and tried to throw the little gems into the bucket of water in order to honor Guatavita. When they were done, they then had to step into the bucket to wash off the gold (take the gold shirt off).
Mining for Emeralds
Our next activity was Mining for Emeralds
To do this, all you need is:
- Blankets (bigger the better!)
- Dark space to do this
- Green stones (I got a little bag from Walmart for a couple dollars. In the floral/vase section)
I hung big blankets between the kitchen island and the counter. You could also use kitchen chairs to hang the blankets between, couches, kitchen table, etc. I spread out and easily-hid lots of these green gemstones throughout the man-made tunnel. Then we turned all the lights out and the kids got flashlights to go mine for emeralds in the Colombian tunnel!
They came out and were studying their emeralds. They had a lot of fun with this activity.
Playing Tejo- the Safe Way
Our next activity to explore Colombia was Playing Tejo.
This was really fun for the kids, probably because it was a bit messy (but not TOO messy). To play Tejo in Colombia, here’s what you need:
- Pie Pans
- Table cloth
- small balls (a little heavier. We used my son’s balls for when he plays wall-ball. A golf ball or tennis ball would work, too.)
To play Tejo, put a few cups of flour in the pie pan. You want it to have a big mound in the middle so that you can see the “explosion” better. Then place the pie pans on a table cloth. The kid will stand about 5-6 feet back (or closer if they’re young!) and underhand toss the ball to try and get it in the pie pan. If they make it, boom! They’ll will see the explosion of flour!
Next, in order for the kids to discover Colombia a little further, we did a fun visual on the Caño Cristales, the Rainbow River in Colombia. While this wasn’t scientifically correct in explaining the river, it was fun in seeing what the colorful river may look like in real life.
Supplies needed are
- Glass bread pans (or a different size)
- red, yellow, and blue food coloring
- tablecloths and rags for cleaning
First, fill the glass pan with water a little more than halfway of the height. Then, if the kids are old enough to handle food coloring, have each kid (or the same kid) take different colors of the food coloring. Each can squirt one or two drops into the pan, and then watch as the colors slowly blend together. You’ll see red, yellow, and blue, but then you’ll start to see secondary colors as they flow together.
The national dish of Colombia is Bandeja Paisa, a large plate full of different meats, rice, beans, and topped with a fried egg and a few veggies on the side.
Other popular foods include arepas (corn cakes with various toppings), Buñuelos (a ball-shaped snack that are fried), empanadas, and a stew called sancocho. We chose to try these arepas! They were really good! Almost like a grilled cheese, but with corn cakes instead of bread.
Did you have fun exploring Colombia? What was your favorite activity? Share in the comments!
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