Even though my major in college was elementary education, my concentrate was social studies. Despite one history symposium during which aged historians read their looong papers for hours on end — and the only entertainment was a mouse running across our feet in the auditorium – I loved it.
But I haven’t always felt that way.
Social studies was a giant puzzle to me until eighth grade, when I finally figured out that Europe and England were not the same thing. Suddenly all the pieces came together!
I’d love for my kids to have a better understanding of the world than I did – which is why I was thrilled to receive and review this great set of educational videos.
These three siblings will take your children around the world as they help them discover more about world geography for kids.
Who are the Traveling Trio?
Olivia (12), and her twin brothers Ingram and Everett (10) live in Texas, but they spend most of their time exploring the world. These seasoned travelers love to learn about art, music, the outdoors, history, and foreign languages and culture.
Bring your kids along for the trip!
What is the Traveling Trio video series?
- So far, it’s a series of 13 educational half-hour episodes. The series is designed for kids ages 8-12.
- In each episode the Traveling Trio explores a new place or feature of the world.
- Episode 1: Trenčín, Slovakia
- Episode 2: Český Krumlov, Czech Republic
- Episode 3: Warsaw, Poland
- Episode 4: The Dalmatian Coast, Croatia
- Episode 5: Budapest, Hungary
- Episode 6: Kraków, Poland
- Episode 7: San Antonia, Texas
- Episode 8: The Traveling Trio Goes Underground (caves!)
- Episode 9: The Castles of Central Europe
- Episode 10: The Foods of Central Europe
- Episode 11: Hungary
- Episode 12: Bosnia and Herzegovina
- Episode 13: Oklahoma
Why would the Traveling Trio series make a great addition to your home or classroom?
- Kids host and narrate the show – which makes it appealing and interesting for young viewers.
- The visual effects are simple but effective.
- I love the little hopping stick figure who shows kids just where their destination is in the world.
- New vocabulary pops up from the bottom of the screen and is clearly identified.
- The videography is well done without being distracting or overwhelming.
In my opinion, many producers of today’s educational programs are trying too hard. They think that by making their productions loud, busy, and flashy, they’ll win viewers. Whether or not this is true, it’s not helping kids learn. It’s kind of like kids’ nonfiction with so many fonts, colors, and text boxes that kids’ eyes don’t know where to go. In contrast, The Traveling Trio is refreshingly simple.
- Kids will learn a great variety of things about other places:
- ethnic foods
- world religions
- and more!
- Want to see for yourself? Check out this sample of the The Traveling Trio Goes Underground.
So how do we help kids learn from educational television?
The most tempting way is to pop the DVD into the player and go get some work done – whether that’s lesson planning at your desk or finishing up the laundry at home.
But it really doesn’t help kids “get” anything out of the experience. It’s kind of like letting kids run around and press every button in a science museum — hoping they actually learn some science without slowing down enough to examine the exhibits.
1. Preview it yourself first.
This is especially important when you have specific learning goals in mind – or when you want to help your kids filter content that you may not agree with. I love the Traveling Trio series, but I did want to talk to my kids about the “millions of years” references. And while the Traveling Trio doesn’t endorse any specific faith, I’ll want to talk to my kids about the other religions that they will learn about.
2. Build background.
Think of your child’s brain as a little filing cabinet, and the new knowledge as a piece of paper. You need to help him create a new file in which to put all the new information he’s going to be learning. If you don’t help him create a file, then the piece of paper flies away with the next breeze instead of being safely tucked away.
- Find a simple nonfiction book about the topic.
- Get out a map or globe if applicable.
- Talk about previous experiences your child has had which can help them make connections to what he’s going to learn.
3. Give kids a purpose for listening.
Below are two suggestions — both of these work great for reading nonfiction, but they also work well when viewing it.
- Work with your child or class to complete a “K-W-L” chart. What do they Know, and what do they Want to know? After viewing, work together to fill in the last column: what they Learned.
Here’s the chart we used before and after viewing. The less your children know about a topic, the less you’ll see on the chart. It’s also true that the more you do these, the better your kids will get at them.
- Create an anticipation guide. Before viewing, have kids answer a series of questions. I like to keep it simple with true/false or multiple choice. The emphasis is not on correct answers, but on kids sharing what they know. After viewing, kids revisit the guide and fill in the final column.
Here’s the guide I created for The Traveling Trio Goes Underground. You can see I kept it very simple, as my oldest is just in first grade. It would be very easy to create anticipation guides of different levels for the Traveling Trio series.
4. During the viewing, pause for discussion.
In the classroom, I loved a strategy called “Think-Pair-Share.” We stopped educational videos at important points. The kids were given a question to think about – then to pair and discuss with a partner – and finally to share with the class. In a homeschool setting you may modify this depending on how many children you have.
Here’s a simple “think-pair-share” for the video my kids viewed. Again, remember that my older kids are just 3,5, and 6 years old. I wrote a think-pair-share appropriate for their level. Notice that I wrote primarily open-ended questions that required them to really think.
5. Afterward, evaluate what you learned.
You can do this in many different ways. Return to the K-W-L chart and fill in the final column. Go back to your anticipation guide and have your kids complete it. Another idea is to pose one big question to your child or class for open discussion. Be sure to share your thoughts, too!
Final Thoughts on the Traveling Trio
Even though I had doubts about whether my kids were too young to enjoy this series, the support I offered with the KWL chart, anticipation guide, and think-pair-share kept them engaged. Both my preschoolers and my first grader are already asking when we can watch another one. If you’re going to preview the videos and prepare learning guides, I think they’re ideal for kids at home ages 4-10.
In the classroom I’d recommend them for third, fourth, fifth, and sixth graders — because their content may very well line up with what’s already being taught.
Consider putting a set under your Christmas tree, or giving a set to your child’s teacher! Click on the image below to preview more videos and order your own set.
© 2013 – 2014, Anna G. All rights reserved.