I wanted an exciting way to grab the interests of the younger children in my class for the topic of Europe so - I decided to take them on a Fairy Tale journey around Europe. I researched where some fairy tales originated and went from there...
With the younger ones (5, 6, 7 year olds) , it is harder to get them to understand and be inspired by countries in Europe so each week i took a different fairytale from around Europe and introduced the country by the fairytale - Hansel & Gretel - Germany, Jack and the beanstalk - England, Three Billy Goats Gruff - Norway, Cinderella from France, Puss in Boots - Itlay, etc.

The children had their own map of Europe, so each week we coloured in the country they visited through their fairytale. They also drew a character from their fairytale onto the map so they would remember.
We discussed different things from each country such as; where it is in Europe, any famous buildings / structures, food from the country, different things associated with the country - gondolas in Italy etc

Every week the children did a different task to show their learning about the country. For England they made a huge 3D beanstalk. On each leaf the children added things about England - photos of Big Ben, the Queen, the Prime Minister, the capital city, the beatles etc (i cant remember it all now!) It was really effective and each and everyone of the children could speak about the leaves.
For Norway, they acted out the story of the Billy Goats Gruff then designed their own troll. We looked into the folklore of Trolls in Norway as well.
They designed the Eiffel Tower out of Straws for France and decorated their construction with images of other things famous to France.

At the end of the topic, each child could find these countries on the map and talk about one or two key things to do with that country. It was a really effective 'way in' for them and we had lots of fun in the process.

Just to let everyone know, on the German Early Start 1 DVD, there is a section on Rumpelstiltskin - this could be useful for doing something similar with older children! ~Jog_On