Saturday, July 29, 2017

The Koreas

This is the first year that I have really been relying on YouTube to help me teach.  There are so many great videos out there!  And this post has plenty.  (Get ready!)  Our second and third countries to study in our yearlong Geography curriculum are the Koreas, that is, North Korea and South Korea.  To help us with every country study, we use the Galloping the Globe guide as a framework for our lessons.
For these two countries, we had eight days of personal study and one, final day of study with our co-op.  As all my Geography posts will have, each day of our study has been detailed, with the focus of that day's study outlined at the top (see below).  The first day served as an introduction to these two countries.

Day 1 - The Koreas (Introduction)

To start our study of the Koreas, we located the two countries on our globe and world map.  We got an even closer view with this map that I had laminated years ago from an old issue of National Geographic magazine.
Next, we "stamped" our travel trunk in our binder with a sticker from South Korea and colored both North Korea and South Korea on our map of Asia.  (Each country we study gets colored as we study it.)
This time around, because we had two countries we were covering, we had four country reports.  (The report sheets I use are detailed in our very first country post for Geography, found at  We started these on Day 1 of our study, but it took the full two weeks to complete them.  (We added information as we went.)  Here are the completed country reports for North Korea.
We get our flag stickers for our country reports from Usborne's Flags Sticker Book.
And here are our country reports for South Korea.  (These go in our binder when complete.)
After starting our country reports, we read about the two countries on pages 85-86 of The Everything Kids' Geography Book ...
 ... and on page 17 of Dover's Around the World coloring book by Winky Adams.
Noting that these two countries create a peninsula off of the continent of Asia, we got a better look at this geographical feature on the map on page 91 of DK's Children's World Atlas.
We then completed a glossary page for "peninsula" for our geography terms book.  (This project is outlined in our post at

Days 2 and 3 - The Koreas (Famous People, Landmarks)

On the next two days of our study of the Koreas, we focused on their famous people and landmarks.  To start, we read about Bob Pierce, missionary to South Korea, on pages 119-124 of Missionary Stories with the Millers by Mildred A. Martin.
We then looked up the word "dictator" in the dictionary and discussed what that word means.  This opened up our discussion about the tragedy that exists in North Korea.  We then watched a few videos.  The first video about the Kim family dictatorship can be found at (below).  PLEASE WATCH THE VIDEOS IN THIS POST IN ADVANCE OF YOUR CHILD(REN) WATCHING THEM!  I stopped this particular video at minute 1:48 because it got too raw after that point.
After that video, we discussed the oppression these three generations of the Kim family have inflicted upon the North Korean people over the last seventy years.  Next up, we watched three videos about these leaders' effects on their people at (below) ...
... ...
... and (below).
We then watched a video explaining ten crazy laws that still exist in North Korea today.  It can be seen at (below).
We watched the emotional video of a North Korean girl who gives her testimony after escaping the country at (below).  I stopped this video at minute 2:42 and restarted at minute 3:40 because of the graphic nature of her testimony.
After our first string of videos, we then read about how we can be praying for North Korea using our Window on the World book (pages 128-129).  We prayed together for the North Korean people.
We read about Seoul and the Gyeonbokgung Palace in our Pocket Books: Cities of the World book (page 52), constantly adding the information we were gathering to our country reports.
We then watched a video about this palace on YouTube at (below).
Another palace we researched was Changdeokgung Palace, seen at (below).
The next landmark we investigated was the N Seoul Tower at (below).
And then we explored Seoraksan National Park at (below).
At the end of our investigation of the famous (and infamous) people and landmarks of North and South Korea, we updated our country sheets and called it a day.

Day 4 - The Koreas (Native Animals, Plants)

The fourth day of our study of the Koreas was on the native animals and plants of the two countries. 

 To start this portion of our study, we looked through pages 116-131 of The Atlas of World Wildlife by World Wildlife Fund, about animals and plants found in southeast Asia.  This book is old.  It actually was mine as a child and I would spend hours looking through the pages.  I loved it.  And so it was a special treat to pull it out for the first time with Maggie.
We then looked at more animals from this region in our Usborne World of Animals book by Susanna Davidson and Mike Unwin (pages 82-83).
We then watched four interesting videos on YouTube about endangered animals who are now thriving in the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea.  In fact, their numbers are increasing in this untouched portion of the world.  The videos can be found at (below) ...
... (below) ...
... (below) ...
... and (below).
We then added some of these animals and plants to our country reports.

Day 5 - The Koreas (Culture - Government, Currency, Language, Religion)

Day 5 of this study started our investigation into the culture of the Koreas, specifically, their governments, currency, language, and religions.

On this day, we talked a lot about the education system of South Korea.  Students (as well as their parents) work very, very hard as education is a huge priority in that culture.  It's a tough job, being a South Korean student, and they study many hours, even into the night.  Some high school students work from six in the morning until midnight, meaning they only get six hours of sleep a night!  Parents spend a small fortune on their children's education.  And though the South Koreans are now highly educated, their lives are very stressful and the suicide rate among teenagers is steadily increasing.  We watched three videos about the South Korean education system on YouTube at (below) ...
... (below) ...
... and (below).
After our videos, we learned a bit about the language of the Koreans and some common phrases, using this list, found at  (We added it to our binder.)

Day 6 - The Koreas (Culture - Homes, Dress, Food, Music)

Day 6 of our study of these two countries invited us to learn about Korean homes, dress, food, and music.

To start, we read about two boys from South Korea, "Yong-Koo and Ji-Koo," in Children Just Like Me: A Unique Celebration of Children Around the World, pages 54-55.
We learned that many Koreans live in apartments, and some still have the privilege of living in traditional hanoks.  This is a great video on YouTube of a tour of a traditional hanok village home in South Korea (, below.
We also looked at some traditional clothing of the Korean people before completing page 12 of Usborne's Sticker Dolly Dressing: Around the World sticker book, featuring a Korean girl wearing a traditional hanbock.
Great job, Mags!
We read about Korean food on pages 36-38 of Eat Your Way Around the World by Jamie Aramini.  (We will use this book a lot in Geography.)  We then decided to make the "Hwa che" and "Ehoba Pak Jon" recipes (on pages 36 and 38, respectively) for a snack.  
Ehoba Pak Jon is really just fried zucchini.  Maggie was excited to try it.
Here it is, frying in the pan.
All done and ready to eat!
And Hwa che is a delicious, fizzy drink made with chunks of watermelon, ginger ale, and sugar.  It was very sweet, but it was good!
A Korean snack!
While we ate, we read two stories from Korea -- My Cat Copies Me by Yoon-duck Kwon ... 
... and While We Were Out by Ho Baek Lee.  (Maggie really giggled at this one.)

Days 7 and 8 - The Koreas (Culture - Special Holidays/Celebrations)

The final two days of our personal study of Korea (before we met with our co-op on Day 9) covered special holidays and celebrations, as well as a special study we chose to do on games.  (This would also be part of Maggie's oral presentation that she was preparing for our co-op.)

The Korean New Year (“Seollal”) is a very special holiday in Korea.  We learned more about it at (below).
We then learned about “Chuseok,” Korea's Thanksgiving day at (below).
As I mentioned above, Maggie had a presentation to prepare for our co-op.  At these meetings, each child presents a project to the others of something that interested them in their personal study.  Maggie and I chose Korean games as the focus of this country's project.  The first we studied was Yut Nori.  To learn more about it, we watched this video at (below).
We then set out to make our own version of Yut Nori using the instructions at  (This is a picture from her site, below.)
To decorate our sticks for our Yut Nori game, Maggie used the Korean alphabet to copy characters onto them.
Here is our game in the works, with Maggie ahead of me!
The second, traditional, Korean game we learned about was Ddakji, which is shown at (below).
We decided to make our own Ddakji game using the instructions at  (This is the picture from her site.)
And here are our Ddakji play pieces.
To determine who would throw their Ddakji square first, we played "Kawi, Bawi, Bo."  This is from where we get our game of "Rock, Paper, Scissors."  (Maggie won this one, too!)  Once we determined she would go first, it wasn't long before we figured out that Ddakji is not easy!
Our final, traditional, Korean game we learned about was Five Field Kono, played at to instruct us (below).
We then used the instructions at to make a game of our own!  (This picture is from her site.)
Here is our Five Field Kono game board, below.
This study of Korean games was a lot of fun and Maggie was very excited to present them at our co-op.

Day 9 - The Koreas (Co-op)

My friend, Stacie, hosted our co-op for the Koreas and she had a beautiful fan craft planned for the kids.  This is one of her templates that she used as an example.
To start, they did a watercolor wash on some heavy paper, cut and folded into the accordion fan shape.
Once the wash was dry, they drew silhouettes of natural shapes onto their fans using Sharpies.  They then used glitter glue to create pretty accents against their silhouettes.  
While their fans dried, the children then watched videos on YouTube of the Korean fan dance and listened to Korean music.

Here are two pictures showing Maggie's completed fan, a few days later after the glitter glue had dried and the sticks were added on.
I love the beads!
It was soon time for lunch.  To start, we had Korean tea in authentic Korean teacups.  The loose tea is placed in the top cup, along with the boiling water.
Next, a cover is placed over that, giving time for the tea to steep properly.
Once steeped, you remove the lid and pull the top cup up and out.  (The bottom of the top cup has many holes so the liquid stays in the bottom cup and you remove most of the loose tea bits with the top.)
I love this cup!
Then, it was time to taste!  Delicious!
Stacie outdid herself with lunch.  She made us bulgogi (marinated beef) ...
... kimchi (hers was so good) ...
... wanja-jeon (pan-fried meat and tofu patties, also very good) ...
... and matang (canded sweet potatoes).
This meal was scrumptious!  Served with rice, we had a Korean feast!
Maggie loved it, too!
We had a blast learning about the Koreas.  Next up?  Japan!  Check back with us!

No comments:

Post a Comment