One of the FunLab summer camp weeks that I held was dedicated to the famous (long) trip of Odysseus to get back home to Ithaca. I remember that the first time I read the book I got a little bit confused about where he went and what happened and so I decided that what we needed was a map to plot Odysseus’ epic trip. The first step was to show the kids the following map and have them recognize where the story is located (click here for site that I used as a reference for the map). Living in Italy gives kids an advantage on this step!
I could not just have them make a normal map. Instead, we made a 3D map using toilet paper believe it or not!
This is what we did. We took a piece of wood around 50 x 50 cm and painted it blue with acrylic paint. Once it was dry, we had the kids draw their view of the Mediterranean with a pencil. There are some spatial errors but I think that they did a great job! Then for the 3D part. I had the kids use a technique that is used in textured painting so that we could create the land. We ripped up two rolls of toiler paper and put it into a work bowl. Then we poured in a little bit of water to wet it and around a half a cup of white glue. The kids had to use their hands to work the toiler paper/glue into a paste. At first they were a little bit stand offish but at the end everyone had a great time getting really dirty and sticky. They used this paste to create the land.
We had to let the paste dry overnight but the next morning the group could not wait to put the finishing touches on the map. We gave them green acrylic paint and let them paint all the land. Some of the older kids were upset by the splotches of green on the blue and carefully went back to fix everything. Look at the fun result!
The next step was to start our journey. Twice a day I would tell the story of Odysseus’ trip. Much to my surprise all 14 kids listened to every episode. I guess that there is enough war, love and adventure to keep even the most rambunctious 6 year old’s attention! Then the kids made little flags which we glued to the map so that it was easy to see where we had been the day before!