Despite the obstacles of school cancellations due to snow and ice so far this year here in West Virginia, the months of January and February continue to be our time of making global connections with our Leaders in Action students during our geography and cultures unit. This past Wednesday, we kicked off the intro lesson with the continents of North and South America. Our students enjoyed a game show style quiz activity where a picture was displayed and their teams got points for putting up the correct paddle of either North, Central, or South America. They learned about the Inuit peoples of the north and were taken along hikes up a couple of Alaska’s most beautiful mountaintops.
During the second half of the program, they found themselves jogging with their bags and backpacks through the school halls to get a taste of what it might be like to be a young Chasquis traveling dozens of miles in a day throughout the mountainous road and trail systems of the Ancient Incan Empire to deliver precious goods and important messages. Next, a photo slideshow of Peru exposed the colors and customs there, along with the multi-day backpacking trip it takes to see the perfectly stacked walls and elaborate structures of Machu Picchu. Even the snack for the day included tea from South America and Salmon Dip and Crackers for a taste of Alaska and the Inuit diet.
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In Winter, being cooped up in a classroom can be a tricky and challenging learning environment, and we aimed to make up for what might have been lacking with the use of presentations, pictures, music, video clips, foods, and the power of storytelling through personal experiences. Overall, the goal of these lessons is to enhance students’ appreciation for cultural differences and commonalities, spark their intellectual curiosity for worlds that are new and unknown to many of us, and even grow their sense of belonging with discussion about our very own local geography and culture.
(Josh Evans is the Program Assistant for FLOC’s Outdoor Education Center in West Virginia.)