I was a child in the 80s and I can still remember how much I enjoyed watching Phineas Fogg on Sunday after lunch (or Willy Fog, as we know him in Spain). I loved the tune and all the adventures the characters lived throughout the different episodes. While watching how they travelled from London to Paris, Cairo, Calcutta, Singapore, Shanghai, Tokyo, New York... I became aware of the marvels the world had to offer. It could be said that it was Willy Fog who passed me the travelling bug. Of course, I am no Michael Palin and I haven't circumnavigated the globe (yet), but I have done quite a bit of travelling too (and, hopefully, there's still more to come). Mr. Fogg was an early inspiration so as soon as my daughter was born I searched the Internet until I found the DVDs of the well-known TV series (well-known, at least, to my generation). One great thing about the dvd collection is that all the episodes are in English, Spanish, French and German. That way, as well as introducing the travelling bug in your family, it can also encourage your children to learn new languages.
If you wonder who Michael Palin is, you can see the Route Map he followed (twice) while travelling around the world following in Mr. Fogg's footsteps. He first travelled in 1988 and then he repeated the experience twenty years afterwards. You may wonder what may have prompted him to take an 80-day journey around the globe when modern means of communication enable travellers to accomplish such a feat in less time. It is quite simple, in fact, as he puts it:
"The reason why Phileas Fogg's 80-day journey retains its appeal is that it is still the minimum time needed to go round the world and notice it. To see it, smell it and touch it at the same time."
(Michael Palin, Around the World in 80 days, 2008 ed.)
The cartoons have been a marvellous excuse to fill the house with little mats representing the world and soft books featuring different cities all around the globe. As the episodes of the series progress, we take all the souvenirs brought from different trips and place them on their corresponding position on the map. My daughter loves asking about the objects and when I bought them and frequently asks if she can go there. I think she's got the travelling bug too!
Our fridge is full of magnets from the places we have visited and she loves adding a new one when we visit a new place. Then she tries to point at the map to mark where the place is located.
Unfortunately, I haven't visited all the important cities in the world, but, fortunately, there are wonderful miniatures in the market ready to be used to mark their place on the map and to get the children interested in that particular culture.
Phineas Fogg and his journey around the world has also been a marvellous introduction to the continents in a "Montessori way". Using a piece of blue fabric "as the ocean", I sewed the shape of the continents in different felt colours. Then I cut 2 more copies of each continent, sewed a piece of Velcro at the back of one of each pair and joined them together. It has become one of her favourite matching games. If you don't like sewing, you can create a similar game cutting the shape of the continents from cardboard of different colours.
Give it a try and invite Mr. Fogg into your household: you'll see how learning geography can also be fun for the little ones!