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Right now, UK airspace is locked down because ash in the skies from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano eruption in Iceland makes it too dangerous for planes to fly. Natural disasters of this magnitude cause all manner of problems, but they also present a great opportunity to explain to children and toddlers about the world we live in. What children are able to understand depends largely on how old they are. Three year old toddlers have little understanding of the wider world that we live in, but when something happens on an international scale, there is a good opportunity to begin explaining about countries and geography. Over time, children will begin to graps the concepts and this will enhance their understanding of the world.
Here are some ideas to help explain the world of volcanoes and geography more broadly to children:-
- Search on 'volcano' on Google Video - you will find lots of video of volcanic eruptions and lava to watch; explain what lava is, where it comes from, and why it is runny
- Make a volcano out of papier mache, plastercine or using any other modelling technique
- Draw a volcano, explain how over time the lava from earlier eruptions forms a mountain
- For young toddlers, draw explosive lava and smoke in a bright picture
- Make a volcano: put one tablespoon of baking soda and two tablespoons of water into a plastic cup, stir until the baking soda has disolved; place the cup on a tray, or better yet, outside; pour in two tablespoons of vinegar from another cup, and watch a fizzy explosion take place!
- Look at an atlas and show children where you are and where other countries are; show in this instance where Iceland is and show the vast area affected by ash from the Eyjafjallajokull volcano
Knowledge and Understanding of the World is one of the areas of learning in the Early Years Foundation Stage. How better to bring the world to life than to investigate a natural disaster that has a direct bearing on the people around us, even though the disaster is so remote from where we live?