Monday, December 13, 2010

Our Continent Bags - Europe

I love to travel and it was one of the things I made a point of doing a lot of before I had children. Europe is a beautiful continent rich in history and culture and I feel blessed to have visited it a number of times.
And, being the pack rat collector I am, I have quite a bit of European memorabilia and souvenirs as a result. I also have a very bad habit of getting overly nostalgic from time to time, so bear with me while I recall exactly where I found some of these goodies. :)

Here's what's inside:
Book, maps, and cards.

Stickers. Lots of stickers! I purchased these for my Europe scrapbook pages (btw, let me know if any of you are interested in seeing these pages - I'm happy to share them!), but I didn't end up using them all. Most were purchased at places like Archiver's and Michael's, but the four at the bottom left are from the various countries I visited.

Miscellaneous souvenirs. I just love that linen doily, which I purchased from a little old lady at a tiny shop in Limerick, Ireland. The two ornaments on the doily are from a beautiful Christmas shop in Rothenberg, Germany (one says "Ich Bringe Gluck", which means "I bring luck"). The Pinocchio ornament is from a shop in the Piazza Navona in Rome, Italy, and the wooden boy is from this German toymaker. The little Eiffel Tower is, obviously, from Paris, France. The Matryoshka nesting dolls are from a Russian store in the US and are a gift from my wonderful sister in law. I have yet to paint them and I'll be sure to post about them when they're finished.

Pieces of Europe. I think these items are some of my most favorite possessions. The pouch on the left contains Edelweiss seeds, which I purchased in Salzburg, Austria. I am a HUGE fan of The Sound of Music and the song, Edelweiss. The sand inside that little bottle is from Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. For those unfamiliar, Omaha Beach is the same beach the US Army stormed in World War II. While we were visiting France, my very patriotic husband made a special trip there to pay his respects to our fallen soldiers. The chunk of rock at the top right is an actual piece of the Berlin Wall. I remember standing under the Eiffel Tower and reaching down to grab a handful of pebbles - they are the same you see in the bag on the far right. Funny thing, there's a small rusted nut included in that bag... I wonder if it fell from the Tower? The multi-colored stone is a wishing stone from Galway, Ireland, and that little bit of rubble in the tiny bag is a piece of the Colosseum in Rome, Italy, extracted by yours truly! :) I have a few larger souvenirs, such as a beautiful beer stein purchased during a fun excursion to Oktoberfest in Munich, Germany, and I'll be showing them to James when the time comes.

Music and artwork. We are a family of music lovers and have always had a wide variety of music in our home. The Spanish Guitar music was one of the first CDs I ever purchased and the other CDs are all a part of the brilliant collection of children's music by Putumayo. I found the art work on Google images.

Postcards. As I mentioned before, I've been collecting postcards since I was a young girl. This selection is just a small sampling of them. Some of these are from friends and family, others are from my travels.

Special mail. The unique Romanian postcard to the left was sent to us by a lovely blog friend, Ramona - James loves this postcard and spent the first few days of its arrival carrying it around with him. The colorful painting at the top was sent to us from a sweet little boy in Spain as a part of our International Postcard Exchange. Ditto with the letter, which is from a boy in Wales and is written in his own adorable script.

Spoons, patches, and pins. More of my spoon collection and a few patches and pins from one of my most memorable experiences - a backpacking trip through Europe with my best friend. We traveled through Europe with literally just a backpack and we had plans to adorn our packs with patches and pins from each of the countries we visited. Somewhere along the line we lost interest in the idea, though, and these are all that remain from our big plan. :)

Various emphera and a book. A ticket from a visit to the Neuschwanstein Castle in Fussen, Germany, a bag from a gift shop in The Netherlands, a map from my trip up the Jungfrau in Switzerland, a newspaper from Munich, and a small bag from a shop in Paris. The book is a gift from my sister in law who used to live in Germany. It's the Grimm Brother's tale of The Bremen Musicians and is written entirely in German. I studied German for years and could just about speak and read it fluently. Of course it's one of those "use it or lose it" situations and I now struggle to translate even a simple sentence.

Three part cards and animals. Yes, there are just two measly dogs representing our collection of European animals. I think Safari Ltd. needs to make a Toob for each continent!

Brochures, photos, pictures, and three part cards. The cards and pictures come from here and the brochures were collected by me as I traveled. I have quite a few photos from my travels and, when the time comes for us to explore our Europe bag, I'll pull them out and share them with James. This particular photo - the one in the upper left hand corner - is of me on the very dark and narrow staircase within the Blarney Castle in Ireland. For some reason, James really likes this photo, so I thought I'd include it.

Money, stamps, and stampers. The coins and some of the stamps are real, but most of the items in this photo are images I found on Google and then printed and laminated. The 1000 Lire bill above has an image of Maria Montessori on it! Unfortunately, my stash of European currency (some date from before the Euro was introduced) and stamps are not here in Bermuda with me. The stampers will make for a fun activity when we explore this continent.

Recipes and three part cards. This book is great and has a good variety of recipes from around the world. About a month ago, on my Facebook page, I asked if anyone wanted to share an authentic recipe from their country and a few of you were kind enough to send some to me - thank you so much! If anyone else would like to share, please email me at countingcoconuts1(at)gmail(dot)com.

Flags from Ireland, Russia, Germany, and England.

I hope you've enjoyed this photo tour of our Europe Continent Bag! You might also enjoy these other posts from my Continent Bag Series:
Our Continent Bags
Our Continent Bags - Storage
Our Continent Bags - North America
Our Continent Bags - Asia
Our Continent Bags - Antarctica
Our Continent Bags - Africa
Our Continent Bags - South America
Our Continent Bags - Australia

Also check out my Continent Bags photo album on the Counting Coconuts Facebook page.

I'm linking this post up to The Preschool Corner and Montessori Monday.

~Thank you for your comments!~


Unknown said...

Oh my God!! I love everything in this box. My children are studying the continent of Europe right now. This continent box is full of wonderful learning material. Thank you for sharing.

Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Now I feel bad about not collecting more souvenirs from my travels. They would be very useful now. On the other hand, I am the opposite of the pack rat and loved the advent of digital photography :)

Insightful Brain said...

This is such a beautiful collection!

Fiona said...

love it!Your blog is so fabulous-I get many ideas from you!
Can't believe how much you have traveled! Paris is the most gorgeous city isn't it?
You have nothing from England tho :-( lol. I will have to send you some memorabilia if you like! x

Leptir (Nataša) said...

I love your continent bags - your Europe bag is so rich!


Counting Coconuts said...

You're very kind, Fiona! I've only been to London half a dozen times, but I can safely say it's one of my favorite cities! Outside of some postcards, ticket stubs, maps and a spoon, I don't have much to show of my visits there. Lots of wonderful memories though! :)

Stephanie said...

Your Continent bags are amazing and so inspiring! We have been making boxes here and so far its a little tougher finding things then I wanted. I hope that we can get a great collection as we go along. :) Keep up your great work! Thanks for all the ideas!

Debbie said...

I love this one! I'm so hoping I get the opportunity to visit more countries in Europe. I see you've been to Interlaken--my favorite place in the world, I think! My husband and I went there for our 10th anniversary. You have a very wonderful collection for your Europe bag!

Karen said...

OMG!!! I LOVE THAT BOX!!!! You have EVERYTHING!! there!! LOVELY!! Amazing Material!! my friend!!

Big hugs!

Unknown said...

Great job!!! I have used several of your ideas, most recently the play dough tree and the felt tree. My kids love it all!

I can mail you a postcard from Sarajevo, Bosnia (where we live) if you would like! :)


Counting Coconuts said...

@irbystreet: YES, we'd love a postcard from Bosnia! Please feel free to email me at and we can exchange addresses - I'd be happy to send a Bermuda postcard your way!

Anonymous said...

WOW! As with your other continent bags, this one looks completely full of fantastic goodies! How amazing to be able to have tangible ways to share stories of your travels with your son.

I made some activities for my Europe box this summer. You are welcome to visit my blog to look at them and download any digital files you might find useful additions for Europe. I think my favorite is the "I Spy" Leonardo da Vinci game. Here's that link:

Enjoy! And thanks again for your awesome blog and inspirations!!!

Jen said...

Oh. My. GOSH!!!! You've been all over lucky duck! I wish I would have traveled more... now it'll be years and years before I get the opportunity again!

I can't believe you have a piece of the Berlin Wall and the Colleseum... wow and I love all the details you shared too!!

Danit said...

this is amazing, your blog is just fabulous! thanks so much for sharing all your incredible activities!

Fiona said...

We are in Liverpool(famous for the Beatles and Liverpool Football club) which is totally different to London-I can send you some postcards from our city if you wish-my email address is if you would like to send me your address!

Anonymous said...

ooo I love all of these things and I just loved reading through where you got them!! I bet James loves looking at all of these treasures!

Anonymous said...

What neat stuff!! Love the little spoons.

Jolanthe said...

LOVE these ideas. :) This would have been great during our Galloping the Globe studies.

Mamma_volipindarici said...

Hi! I'm an italian mum enjoying homeschooling.
Compliments for your blog and your daily work.

Thank you for sharing this post on Europe

Big hugs


Wichita Falls + Kids said...

Love the idea and love your blog, but I have to correct you on one thing. The flag you have for England isn't actually the flag for England. It's the flag for Great Britain (which contains England, Scotland and Whales) England, Scotland and Whales all have their own flags. That combine to make The Great British Flag (United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland)
Plus Britain isn't actually part of Europe ,It's part Of the European Union but not really part of the continent.


Wichita Falls + Kids said...

HI again
Sorry here is a good link that explains it all

Counting Coconuts said...

I'll be sure to check into the flag and make note of it when I teach. As for England not being a part of the continent, I'm afraid you're mistaken. Ask yourself to which continent does England belong? There are only seven - have to pick one! :)


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