I was reminded today of a project we did when the kids were younger.
I came across some books called "Free Stuff For Kids." Some of the stuff listed was actually free for the asking, but a lot required at least a self-addressed stamped envelope, and some asked for small fees. We went through the books and sent away for a variety of things. Coupons, stickers, pencils, etc.
By FAR, the best thing in the book was a suggestion that turned into a huge project for us.
The suggestion was to write to the Tourism Bureau of every state, and ask for tourist information.
So we did.
Do not do this if you aren't prepared for the result!
We got a HUGE amount of information.
Best of all: free maps. Beautiful maps.
Each state sent out something different. Some sent a map and a photocopied page or two. Others had an entire large envelope full of maps and information about various attractions in their state.
We read it all, I think.
To start with, we love maps. I had seen a house where the entire downstairs was wallpapered in maps. We didn't go that far, but for a long time, had one entire wall covered in maps.
Besides the maps, we learned about state and national parks, and various tourist attractions. My kids learned the meaning of the term "tourist trap." We found out all sorts of interesting information about every state that we had never heard of or even considered. Things like the state bird or animal, but also history, demographics, unusual geological features, etc.
If I were the curriculum sort of person, I'm sure we could have used this material for YEARS worth.
We didn't. :-)
We did spend a lot of time with it, though, and as far as I know, I still have the banker's box it all was stored in. We used some of it to plan a trip or two. We used the rest to imagine going places we'll probably never go.
If you are interested in such things, here's what we did, in a nutshell:
First, it took some time to find the addresses of all the Tourism Bureaus. Some were in the book, but some were not. It would likely be easier now, what with a bigger, better internet.
We sent a letter with each request, explaining that we were interested in learning about the state. I don't remember if we told them we were homeschoolers or not. Some of them, we expressed an interest in traveling there, if that was honestly the case.
Some of the places had information available for how to request information, whether they wanted an SASE or not. Most did not ask for it, and had their own special envelopes they used. Any that had specific guidelines, we followed.
We sent most of them out the same day, and part of the fun was seeing how long each took to respond. We kept track, but I don't remember what the time range was. Some took a lot longer than others, but we ended up getting a response from all 50 states. I might suggest spreading it out more because if you get things from several states in one day, it's really too much to explore all in one day. It would be better to get one a day, or one every other day. There's no way to really plan it, though, since they don't all take the same amount of time.
Writing about it now, I am tempted to do it again. It really was a lot of fun looking through all the material, especially the maps and pictures. There are a lot of places, "attractions" and things to do out there that we had never heard of!
If you want a lot of pictures for a collage or something, this would be a great source. If you have a kid (or are a kid!) who really likes to get stuff in the mail, this is unbeatable!
I bet it would be possible to do this with some other countries, as well. Also, places like Disney offer free trip planning resources, too.
Be aware that it is a lot of paper, and you need to consider whether you really want it in hand, or if you'd rather do a similar project just looking online. I would guess that by now, most of the same information and images are online anyway. Not so much, back then.