Traveling to Peru, in the heart of South America, often isn't practical or affordable for families. However, kids can still learn about this mountainous country without having to board a plane simply by doing some fun activities in and around the home. Plus, at-home activities are a lot easier than climbing Macchu Picchu.
One way to help kids learn about a country is to help them understand its geography. Kids can place play dough on top of Peru on a globe or atlas to help them learn its location. Older kids can also trace the shape of the country from an atlas. They can color in their tracing according to the land types found in Peru such as a coastal desert, mountain grass, mountain rainforest and tropical rainforest. Another option is to lay play dough on the tracing or atlas in the shapes of the mountains that go through Peru.
Reading is an effective way to learn about almost anything, so books about Peru and its culture are another good way for kids to discover things about this country. An introductory picture book like "Up and Down the Andes" by Laurie Krebs and Aurelia Fronty can give kids an overview of the country. The vivid illustrations and descriptions of Peruvian cultural landmarks give kids a lot of information. "Spotlight on Peru" by Bobbie Kalman is another picture book overview of the country -- and features actual photographs of Peru. To teach them about Machu Picchu and Incan history specifically, "Machu Picchu" by Elizabeth Mann is another useful picture book. "Love and Roast Chicken," by Barbara Knutson, is a retelling of a classic Peruvian folktale. As your kids study Peru, you can also let them make their own books about Peruvian culture to share with friends or family.
Some crafts that are common in Peru are masks, pottery, and sarhua, or painted boards. Kids and parents alike can make their own versions of these Peruvian crafts. For masks, kids can cut card stock in the shape of an animal and then decorate it with paint or markers. For pottery, younger kids can use play dough or modeling clay to make common Peruvian shapes like bowls, small houses or people. Older kids can use modeling clay or traditional clay to make those shapes. Kids can make their own sarhua boards with square pieces of wood from the craft store and paint. The boards typically depict local customs, so kids can make the boards depicting customs of their own towns.
Soccer is the most popular sport in Peru, although they call it futbol. So if kids need some more active learning, you can all try playing soccer. Active learners might also enjoy going on a hike, as tourists in Peru often hike to Machu Picchu. Thanks to the large swath of the Andes that runs through Peru, mountain sports like rock climbing and mountain biking are also common tourist past times in the country. If there aren't any mountains in your area, you can look for rock-climbing gyms where the family can get a firsthand taste of this Peruvian activity.