Friday, June 11, 2010

World Cup Crazy

Yes, we have World Cup Fever!

 Picture by Lisa Solonynko, courtesy of
Four years ago, during a boring summer day, I discovered FIFA World Cup soccer. It was so exciting! At the time, Romeo was 4. He had been wanting to play soccer since he was 1 and attended his brothers' soccer games. As soon as he hit three, he begged for soccer. I put him in SoccerTots to learn the game. He was in heaven.That particular summer we were getting ready for Romeo's soccer debut in the fall league. So, I was curious to watch the World Cup.

I ended up hooked! Now I understood why soccer, or "football", was such a big deal around the world. My first experience with it was actually in Rome in 1993. There was a game somewhere between the Italian team and FC Barcelona. I didn't know this until the the fans descended on the Piazza di Spagna in their jerseys and gear, making it impossible to get through. Very foreign to an American.

Romeo has played in little league since he was 5, fall and spring. He loves soccer with a passion. So it was with great excitement I looked forward to sharing this round of the World Cup with him (and the others, of course).

This morning we gathered around the tv, ESPN guide in hand. We indentified stadiums and towns and discussed in brief aparthied and how Africa was colonized. It hit me - what great fodder for learning! (This is also a problem with having a homeschooling mom - she can turn anything into a "learning opportunity"!).

So, here are some ideas for all the homeschoolers out there, but also for anyone who likes to take their major sporting events a step further!

World Cup Lesson Plan
 This year the World Cup takes place in South Africa. 
1. The best place to start is by orienting the event in your head geographically. Maps, maps and more maps! If you homeschool with children from preschool up through middle school, Enchanted Learning should be your friend! For a simple fee of $20 a year, you have access to a lot of information and worksheets. We use this mainly for geography at the moment, but when the kids were younger, this was also a great resource for science, crafts, writing, and activity books.  
This morning I printed out:
  • a map of Africa with simple to follw directions on labeling and coloring major geographic areas.
  • A fill-in-the-blank Africa quiz, with a word bank
  • a South Africa quiz worksheet
  • and a quiz/printout of South Africa's flag
Enchanted Learning is gold, I tell you!

You can also use other sites, of course! Like The Africa Guide

2. Learn a little about the history of South Africa and apartheid. This will inlcude learning about Nelson Mandela.
  • A Q&A with Mandela in Time for Kids
  • Visit the website for the Apartheid Museum, located in Johannesburg, South Africa. This has a lot of info, but as it is not aimed at kids, adults need to look at it first, and as with all websites, with younger children. 
  • Check out books from the library on South Africa and Nelson Mandela for kids. 
3. If soccer is not your forte, bone up a little on the subject.
4. Get to know the FIFA World Cup

  • We found a great magazine guide from ESPN - the 2010 World Cup Guide. They had quite a few at our local used book shop (Half-Price Books). We got it for, well, half-price. It contains a lot of valuable info on the venues, the teams, the matches, the groups, a handy glossary, and some stunning pictures. My boys kept it handy through the opening match.
  • ESPN's World Cup site
  • FIFA's own site
  • And this nice article from Kid Glue about why you should watch the World Cup with your kids
5. There are so many matches and countries involved. It seems obvious to learn about the host country, South Africa, but there are so many countries and cultures here. Have your child pick one of the teams, and learn all about their country and a little of the team's history.

6. Provide some cultural snacks during matches. Maybe not every match. Pick a games and try some food that relates to the teams involved. Or order out. Whatever works for you!

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