Around the World with FIAR: The Gully Washer (South America)

Ribbet collagefiar

Yes, I know this is a bit of a stretch, but gully washers do happen in Colombia, and Colombia happens to be one of the wettest countries in South America, and the next part of the Rainforest Journey is learning about the water cycle.  See it all dove-tails…a bit.  In all honesty the Gully Washer is probably set somewhere in Southern North America, but I’m alright with a bit of pretend play 🙂

FIAR Gully Washer

South America: Goals for this Study

As well as working our way through the FIAR manual for The Gully Washer I would like the children to also learn about the following:

  • The country of Colombia, situated at the top of South America
  • The Water Cycle
  • The difference between Climate and Weather

South America: In My Book Box

In addition to The Gully Washer, I will be using the following books to meet my goals:

FIAR Gully Washer 2

The two picture books are based on real people who are well known in Colombia.  The first is a tale about a boy who had so many books he did not know what to do with them, until he came up with the idea of becoming a travelling library.  So he packs up his books, buys a couple of donkeys and visits the surrounding villages.

The second book focuses on Gabriel Garcia Marquez, telling the story of his life from a dreaming young boy to a story teller extraordinaire.

The South America book is a small non fiction book with lots of colourful photos, perfect for little hands to hold.

We will also be using the following Read and Find Out book, which teaches about the water cycle in very simple language and pictures; the second is on the water cycle in the Rainforest and contains a great science demonstration at the back of it which we will attempt to replicate:

FIAR Gully washer 3

South America: The Geography of Colombia

The first thing the girls did was to build up the Animals of the World Map puzzle and we had a look to see what it might tell us about Columbia.  Next we opened out children’s atlas and I read out the information given about Columbia.  We looked at the map and I taught them how to ‘read’ it pointing out the visual cues:

Columbia 1

We then created a ‘story board’ of Colombia.  This would be used in our final presentations of South America.  We included a home made Colombian flag, we used lap book pieces from here:

columbia 2

columbia 3

columbia 4

We will be creating a ‘lap book board’ for each country and they will all be on display during the little ones’ presentations.

Science: Learning About the Water Cycle

The bulk of our learning came from EdTechLens, Unit 1 (chapter 2) of their excellent Rainforest Journey.  Both girls did their own narration, using it as copy work, and completed the review questions at the end.  Here’s A7’s:


watercycle 2

And B5’s:


Together we created a poster reflecting all they had learnt about the water cycle.  They chose the pictures, cut them out and stuck them down, whilst I did the labels 🙂

columbia 5

Science Project: To create a mini rainforest which demonstrate the water cycle in action

The idea for this came from Read and Find Out: In the Rainforest.  The idea is to create a self contained and self sustaining mini-ecosystem.  This would have been fun in itself but had an added advantage of self watering by evaporation and condensation, thus showing nicely a water cycle.


  • Large clean bottle
  • Pebbles from the garden (for drainage)
  • Activated charcoal (optional but helps filter an enclosed space so will help make the terrarium last a bit longer)
  • Moss from the garden (this separates the roots from the water sitting in the pebbles and thus prevents rotting)
  • Soil from the garden
  • Sticks and bark to mimic the floor of a rain forest floor
  • Miniature ferns
  • Seeds
  • Water

T14 did this activity with the little ones, after I found him wandering aimlessly around the house……

bottle 1


  • Cut your bottle in half
  • Place pebbles first, followed by 1/2 inch of activated charcoal (if using).  Add a layer of moss as well as sticks and bark if using.
  • Fill soil up to a 1/3 of the bottle (at least 2 inches high to support roots)
  • Add seeds and miniature plants as well as sticks and bark if using.
  • Water very slowly and allow leaves to dry before you place the bottle top on the bottle bottom.
  • Place on window sill out of direct sunlight
  • Open lid every couple of weeks to allow fresh air to circulate and prevent mold.  Water once a month.

Here is our finished ‘rainforest in a bottle’:

bottle 2

We popped ours on a warm windowsill and the girls could see the plants growing and the water cycling around the bottle:


South America: Colombia – In the Kitchen

The girls helped Gary to make the following:

cook 1


South America: Colombian Paper Doll Art

I gave the girls a blank card doll and a selection of material to create their own Colombian dress up dolls:


dolls 2

The girls have thoroughly enjoyed learning about Colombia!  Next up is Brazil using An Afternoon in the Amazon (a Magic Treehouse book), and focusing on Camouflage in the Amazon Rainforest.