Friday, October 30, 2015

Disney World: Preparing Kiddos for EPCOT

Oh, Winter, with your gray skies, frigid temperatures, and slushy streets...our family always seems to need a little pick-me-up once we've made it through the holidays.  For several years, we have escaped to Orlando, Florida, spending a few days in warmer weather with Mickey Mouse.  Earlier this fall, I spent hours researching other vacation destinations, but it's difficult to try something new.  With Disney's Magical Express and complimentary resort transportation,  traveling is so easy.  I am thankful we never had to worry about lugging car seats and boosters through the airport when our girls were younger.  

I frequently refer to these wonderful blogs, forums, podcasts, and websites when planning a trip to Disney World (listed in alphabetical order):

There is an abundance of Disney-related information at your fingertips.  Why, then, am I writing about Disney World on a blog that was created to serve as an additional resource for Girl Scout leaders?  Two reasons:
  1. To share with others how I prepared my young daughters for their first trip to EPCOT. 
  2. To provide ideas that Girl Scout troops could possibly use for a Thinking Day celebration.
In our Service Unit's Thinking Day celebration, troops select a region to represent.  One year, a country is chosen.  The following year, a state is selected.  To educate other Scouts and their families about the respective area, troops create a booth and include games, crafts, and/or snacks that relate to the country or state they selected.  In this post, I will share what my daughters and I did as we prepared to "visit" different countries at EPCOTDepending on the ages of the Girl Scouts, the following ideas could easily be incorporated in plans for a troop's Thinking Day booth.  These ideas could also serve as a springboard for something more sophisticated for the older crew.

I chose four countries:  Norway, Mexico, Canada, and China.  My girls were 3 and 4-years-old at this time, so our lessons were short and sweet.  Each lesson began by finding Ohio and the EPCOT country on a globe.  We then became familiar with the country's flag.  With my girls sitting next to me, I did a quick online search for facts about the countries.  I shared fun tidbits I thought would peak their interest.  We made a craft that related to our discussion and ended with a themed but super-simple snack.

The girls glued cotton balls to a polar bear coloring sheet like this one before enjoying "antique snowshoe pretzels" (Snyder's of Hanover Butter Snaps Pretzels).  

After learning about Canadian wildlife, the girls made moose antlers.  They traced their hands on construction paper, cut them out, and taped them to the headband I measured for them.  Looks like we learned about Norway and Canada on the same day!  Since I already had an open bag of those "snowshoe" pretzels, I didn't have to come up with another snack.

Panda masks!  We used white cardstock and black construction paper to make these adorable masks.  I had them look at a picture of a panda bear before cutting out the black eye patches and nose.  We used a circle cutter to make the eye openings and ears.  Their favorite part of this lesson was watching a live feeding on Panda Cam.  While they enjoyed the live telecast, I quickly heated some store-bought egg rolls in the oven for our snack.

This was my favorite lesson!  The girls made ponchos by painting brown paper grocery bags.  I cut a hole in the bottom of the bag for their heads.  I made slits down both sides of the bag for their arms.  They painted the bags using bright colors.  When they were finishing the project, it was almost time for lunch.  I decided to make them black bean quesadillas to celebrate the end of our Mexican lesson.

While I will admit EPCOT proved to be a complete bore for these little ones that year, my husband and I were glad they were familiar with a few of the countries we visited during our trip.  In any case, we had fun learning!  It's important to point out that our girls (now ages 10 and 9) absolutely love EPCOT thanks to Agent P's World Showcase Adventure.  Thank you for reading, and have a magical day!

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