“Where were my toys made?”- the aircraft edition

Where were my toys made?

I’d written up a brief summary of this activity in the comments for a link-up for the Smart Summer Challenge “Me on the Map” over at Teach Mama, so I figured I should actually get around to writing the blog post about it.

smart summer button '11

This is a simple activity I’ve done with Br (3 3/4) a few times.  He seemed do get a kick out of it, and it resulted in his first actually decent joke (I’ll save that for the end.  But don’t get your hopes too high. It is still a 3 y/o’s joke).  Oh, and some geography knowledge & awareness…. :)

The activity is “Where were my toys made?”  All you need is a pile of manufactured toys and an atlas (or world map, or globe).  We’ll deal with the issue of global outsourcing later…

We peaked at the tiny writing on the bottom of the toys in Br’s aircraft bin (yes, we have enough small metal vehicles there is a subset of “aircrafts” in its own bin.  Br was the first grandson. And he REALLY likes all things mechanical)

Checking where the plane was made
Checking where the plane was made

I opened the atlas to the “Asia” page (We had done this activity before with some trucks. But, really, would any of you NOT have opened it automatically to Asia?) and we found the country listed on the bottom: in this case, Thailand.

We grouped the items by country and next to the atlas, relative to where the countries were found on the map.  There wasn’t as much “diversity” with the airplanes as there had been with the trucks (apparently Thailand has a bit of a monopoly on mini aircrafts?), so we had only 3 piles: Unknown (didn’t list a “made in…”), China, & Thailand (by far the most).

Where were my toys made?
Br decided he wanted to lay down in the picture. Man, nothing like posting pictures to the internet to make you notice you need to shampoo the carpet....

One of the aircrafts also listed it was designed in Sweden, but made in Thailand.  I showed where Sweden was on the inset world map, and we traced how far the information would have to travel (using the big map, so it was more impressive)- through Russia, China, etc. We had a brief discussion about “designing” & “making”.

Atlas world map inset

Here’s a link to the atlas we used:  Usborne Children’s Picture Atlas *This has been a favorite of Br’s since he was probably close to Bl’s age (lots of great pictures of animals, people, and landmarks around the world, as well as pages explaining different types of areas to be found in the atlas)

This also gave us an opportunity to “hypothesize”- working on both the vocabulary and the concept.  We have 2 helicopters that are exactly the same.  When I got to the second one, I asked Br what his “hypothesis” was on where it was made, and reminded him what a hypothesis was.  Br said he didn’t know.  I told him MY hypothesis was Thailand.   I explained to him the reason I hypothesized Thailand: because I could see the other helicopter that was the same in our Thailand pile (and most of the aircrafts were made in Thailand).  If they looked the same, they were likely made in the same place.

* I sell the Usborne & Kane-Miller books, so if you buy through this link, I will receive a small commission.  But I SELL them because I BUY them.  :)

Oh yeah! The joke: We’d gotten some “Animals of the World” cards at the dollar are of Target.  When we were looking through them the other day, it said the Sifka Lemurs were from Madagascar. One of Br’s trucks was made in Madagascar.  Br responded “Maybe the Lemurs made my trucks!”

I’d warned you not to get your hopes up. :) Maybe I should explain: my standard for “decent”= makes sense.

Do you have any suggestions for other activities we could try with our Atlas?  We’d also love to hear if you try this and how it went!

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4 thoughts on ““Where were my toys made?”- the aircraft edition”

  1. SO interesting! You are raising a very curious little one–way to go! We’ve never done anything like this, but you better believe we’ll save it for our next rainy day–so smart!

    1. It’s actually helped spark some other discussions and given a reason for Br to be more interested when other countries are mentioned. We saw an old friend at my high school reunion last weekend who was living in China. It was nice that Br had a working idea of where that was!

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