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Let’s Explore Schools from Around the World

Today is our monthly book & activity for the Poppins Book Nook.  Each month, we choose a book or books based on the theme and share a fun interactive idea to do with the story. 

This month’s book theme is School Days and since my kids are always interested in various countries & cultures, we decided to find some books about schools around the world.

This was surprisingly easy!  I really wasn’t sure if there would be good kids books on this topic but was pleasantly surprised. 


Books About Schools Around the World

There were three books that we really enjoyed reading and that paired wonderful with some hands-on exploration activities.  I love taking an everyday occurance such as going to school and using it to introduce geography and world culture.  Kids not only get an idea of how different the world can be but they also begin to realize that what’s common place in their lives may be a luxury to others.

I’m including a copy of the free printable worksheet we used after reading the books along with a brief revew of each book along with an affiliate link for your convenience.


It’s Back To School We Go!: First Day Stories from Around The World shares the stories of fictional children from 11 different countires.  Each child describes what a day at school in their country would be like from what they would eat for lunch to how they learn in class.  The countires represented in the book include Kenya, Kazakhstan, Canada, Australia, Japan, China, Peru, Germany, India, Russia, and the United States.

It’s a wonderful introduction to the cultural differences and academic similarities of schools around the world.  We used it with our mapping activity below and also enjoyed the list of resources for games & recipes included in the book.  Great for kids ages 5 – 10 years old.


We found a variety of reading levels in the books and the DK Readers: School Days Around the World is a really nice level 3 reader.  The opening pages of the book introduce 7 children from different countires: Peru, United States, England, Ghana, India, Australia and Japan.

As is traditional with the DK books, there are wonderful photos of the children doing school activities.  My daughter noticed quite a few similarities between her school day/activities and those of the kids in the story.  For example, many of the schools have computers and lots of recess activities were familiar.  But there were some fun differences — some of the kids have to feed animals before school and others have different responsibilities in the classroom.  A good read for kids ages 6 – 9 years old.


Off to Class: Incredible and Unusual Schools Around the World was by far the most detailed book and probably one to be used with older kids (I would recommend it for kids ages 8 to 14 years old).  This was a very interesting read because it shared how many communities and countries create schools to accomodate learning anywhere!

The book highlights distance learning for kids who can’t attend a physical school.  There are stories of schools that are held in caves, tents and on platforms.  Kids don’t always learn ‘academic’ lessons at their school either.  And it shares the excitement of the children as they attend school (which is a priviledge and honor in many countries).

We really enjoyed reading what a ‘typical day’ looked like for the various schools — it was very different from what my daughter experienced during her school day.  The map in the back of the book shows where each of the featured schools or students live too.


Schools & Geography

One of the first activities that came to mind as we read these stories was to use a globe to find the countries from the stories.  Since each of the books clearly identifies which countries they highlight, we made a list and located them on the globe.

I really like to pull out maps or globes whenever possible to give the kids practice with cardinal directions (north, south, east, west), identification of countries and learning about some of the lines & features on a map or globe.

You can also incorporate a discussion on time zones for older kids.

 Exploring Schools around the World


A ‘Typical’ School Day

The other activity we enjoyed was a compare/contrast discussion about a typical school day.  We used the following table to fill in some of the information we learned in the various stories. 


  learning about schools around the world

 Print a copy of the Exploring Schools Around the World worksheet!


By focusing on a few topics, we were able to identify a number of similarities with children in other countries and also quite a few differences. 

Some of the fun discussion questions could include:

• Would you rather attend school 5 days a week or only occasionally as they do in other locations?

• What type of a building or location would you prefer to learn in — a school building, cave, outdoor classroom, mobile class?

• How would you change your lunchtime at school?

• What fun things would you incorporate during recess at your school?


If you’d like to take it one step further, ask your child to create their own school day by piecing together their favorite activities from other countries.  Kids always have the best ideas for ways to make learning fun — I really think we need to ask them more often!


kids books about the world


Around the World in 30 Books

10 Culture & Map Activities for Kids

Why Every Home Needs a Map


For more fun books & activities about Schools, make sure to visit all of the blogs in the Poppins Book Nook online book club!