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Teacher Edition

Week of October 23, 2016

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Last weekend, we flew (first class) to Mexico. During our journey Geo and I studied our maps of Mexico and got online to research the country. I never realized how large the country of Mexico is! It is 2,000,000 square kilometers. It would take about 8 million children lying down from head to toe, to cover the perimeter of this large country. The capital city is easy to remember - Mexico City. The official language spoken is Spanish. An astonishing 89% of Mexican residents are Roman Catholic. Holy Idaho! If you want to purchase something in Mexico, you don't use dollars but instead use Mexican Pesos. The climate of Mexico varies from tropical to desert. The coast and lowlands are hot and humid 12-months of the year. The interior highlands are milder and drier, but do get cooler in the winter months.

Mexico has two large bodies of water that surround most of the country. Can you look at the map (I pasted the link below) and figure out what the two large bodies of water are? On the eastern coast, you will find the beautiful Gulf of Mexico. On the western coast, you will find the equally breath-taking Pacific Ocean. A small part of Mexico (called the Yucatan Peninsula) is also bordered by another large body of water - the Caribbean Sea. Can you find Phoenix on this map? Holy Idaho! I never realized that I lived so close to Mexico.

     - Meri

See the map

Well, here we are at our first stop - Mexico City. The city is amazing - it crosses a valley and is surrounded by ice-capped volcanoes and mountains. The most fascinating fact is that Mexico City is the highest city in all of North America. Can you believe that? I guess there is a city that is higher than the Mile-High city of Denver (remember we flew over Denver last week). Mexico City is about 7,200 feet about sea level. Remember that Denver was 5,280 feet about sea level. Bad news though, we hit a dead end with Dewey in Mexico City. We are heading to the Caribbean Coast of Mexico. We are in a taxi right now and being "bothered" by Pandora - surprise, surprise.

Pandora to us: RUOK? WAYN - Mexico? Saw your blog. U2 at the beach?

Us to Pandora: ABT2 go to beach. Yes, in Mexico. GGN BBBG

We arrived on the Caribbean Coast after a LONG ride in a taxi van. The Caribbean Coast of Mexico is on the Yucatan Peninsula. A peninsula is a piece of land that is bordered by water on three or more sides (but is not an island). The Yucatan Peninsula is bordered by the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean Sea. We just arrived in Cancun (one of the more popular coastal cities). Our hotel is amazing - there are 4 pools! I took a picture of the city and pasted it at the end of this entry. The tropical area of Cancun is one of the world's most sunny climates. During the months of September, October, and November the Yucatan Peninsula does have occasional strong winds and rain - sometimes even hurricanes. The yearly average temperature is 78 degrees Fahrenheit (25.5 degrees Celsius). After taking a long swim in the sea, Meri and I decided to go visit another thing that makes Mexico amazing - the ancient ruins. We took a bus tour to Chichen Itza, the largest of the Mayan ruins. The Mayans were a native civilization that was here long before Spanish explorers arrived, and their art and influence remains among the people who live in nearby regions today. The ruins are also on the Yucatan Peninsula, so it was a short ride. The ruins go back as far as the 7th century - that is the 600's! In other news, we haven't heard anything from Uncle GT yet regarding the search for Dewey. We were told to hang out in Cancun until we received a text message advising us where to go. We couldn't have asked for a more beautiful place to wait.

     - Geo

The view of Cancun from our hotel balcony!

Chichen Itza - the largest of the Mayan Ruins


After three relaxing days in Mexico, we are now on our way to Central America (Guatemala). Central America is also part of the North American continent and is actually not too far from our current location - so we are just taking a taxi. We decided to update our journal during our ride. Earlier today we received the following text message from Uncle GT.

Text Message from Uncle GT: HT - have news on Dewey. Head to the cap. of Guatemala ASAP. HAGD

So what is the capital city of Guatemala? Geo figured that out quickly - the capital city of Guatemala is Guatemala City. Unfortunately, Guatemala City is towards the southern end of Guatemala. So our ride is going to be a bit longer than we had anticipated. I have been researching Guatemala in a travel magazine that I bought (my laptop doesn't have Internet access right now). Did you know Guatemala has active volcanoes, Mayan ruins, and even earthquakes! Wow, this is one busy country.

Okay - we are so excited. As we pulled up to our hotel we saw another taxi drive by us. Guess who was in that taxi - a dog with a striking resemblance to Dewey, and he was with a woman in some sort of uniform! About 5-minutes later we received a phone call on our cell from an unknown number. The female caller said, "I know that you two geography sleuths saw Dewey. We are on our way out of the city and heading to the ocean waves. Stop following us - Dewey is in no danger. He is necessary for our current project. GO BACK HOME." And then she hung up the phone.

Holy Idaho! The first thing we did was called Uncle GT. He said to travel west towards the coast. He had reason to believe they are heading to South America. We are taking a cruise, I can't wait - I have never been aboard a ship. The ship stops at several ports, but Uncle GT has told us that he believes that Dewey could only be in Brazil, Argentina, or Chile. Which one should we investigate first?

We need your help - where should our investigation in South America begin?

     - Meri


Overlap Maps
Use Overlap Maps to compare the sizes of Mexico and Guatemala. Compare Mexico and the United States (or country that you live).

Vocabulary Terms:

cardinal direction - a term used to describe all four primary directions (north, south, east and west).

peninsula - a piece of land that is bordered by water (on three or more sides), but is not an island. A peninsula is attached to a larger body of land but sticks out into the water.

scale - shows the relationship between the distance on a map and the corresponding distance on the earth. For example, 1 inch may equal 500 miles. This allows users to calculate the approximate distance between two locations on a map.

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Additional Web Resources:

Travel for Kids
This is another great site for kids! This website includes a book list of stories that are purposeful to read to your students all about Mexico.

Word Travels
This website includes a wealth of information and useful maps about Mexico.

Standards for this episode:

Understands the characteristics and uses of maps, globes, and other geographical tools and technologies.

Knows the location of places, geographical features, and patterns of the environment.

Grade 3-5: Knows the basic elements of maps and globes (title, legend, cardinal, scale, grid, meridians, time zones, etc.).

Grade 3-5: Knows major physical and human features of places as they are represented on maps and globes. Knows how to read different maps: road, relief, globe, etc..

Grade 3-5: Knows the location of major cities in North America.

Grade 3-5: Knows the approximate location of major continents, mountain ranges, and bodies of water on Earth.

Grade 6-8: Knows the relative location of, size of, and distances between places.

Understands the characteristics and uses of spatial organization of Earth's surface.

Grade 3-5: Knows different methods to measure data (miles, kilometers, time, etc..).

Understands the physical and human characteristics of a place.

Grade 6-8: Knows the human characteristics of places (e.g., cultural characteristics such as religion, language, politics, technology, family structure, gender; population characteristics; land uses; levels of development).

Understands the concept of regions.

Grade 3-5: Knows the characteristics of a variety of regions (climate, housing, religion, language, etc..).

Grade 6-8: Understands criteria that give a region identity (such as Amsterdam as a transportation center or the Sunbelt's warm climate and popularity with retired people).

Understands that culture and experience influence people's perceptions of places and regions.

Grade 6-8: Knows how places and regions serve as cultural symbols (Opera House in Sydney or Tower Bridge in London).

Knows the physical processes that shape patterns on Earth's surfaces.

Grade 3-5: Knows the physical components of Earth's atmosphere (weather and climate), lithosphere (land forms such as mountains), hydrosphere (oceans, lakes and rivers), and biosphere (vegetation and biomes).

Grade 3-5: Knows significant historical achievements of various cultures of the world (e.g., the Hanging Gardens or Babylon, the Taj Mahal in India, pyramids in Egypt, temples in ancient Greece, bridges and aqueducts in ancient Rome).

Understands the forces of cooperation and conflict that shape the divisions of Earth's surface.

Grade 6-8: Understands the symbolic importance of capital cities (such as Canberra, a planned city, as the capital of Australia).

Understands how physical systems affect human systems.

Grade 3-5: Knows natural hazards that occur in the physical environment (floods, tornadoes, earthquakes, etc..).

Grade 6-8: Knows the location of physical and human features on maps and globes (e.g., culture hearths such as Mesopotamia, Huang Ho, the Yucatan Peninsula, the Nile Valley; major ocean currents; wind patterns; land forms; climate regions).

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