Friday, July 3, 2015

Wander Our World to Australia

We recently posted an image of a craft project that we created of the blue-ringed octopus on Instagram. It seemed to receive a nice following and even though the craft project itself was kind of cool, the story behind that class was even better.

We were invited to a special needs classroom in Barrington, Illinois with children that ranged in age from 7-12. We learned a continent song, brought our Travel Trunk of artifacts to pass around, and completed the blue-ringed octopus craft.

The kids were amazed and engaged. Learning about the world at any age is fascinating. Our imaginative journey to Australia didn't cease to impress. How can it not with an Australian walking stick to accompany us while we learn cool facts about the largest island in the world!

But the most important lesson we learned that day is the impact that our program has for young kids and especially for children who cannot travel or are limited in what they can physically do. In just an hour's time we opened the minds of these kids to an awesome country in our wonderful world. We were happy to hear that the feeling was mutual. This was the testimonial we received:

"The in-school field trip was amazing! Irene and Kaprice did a wonderful job differentiating their curriculum to meet the needs of a class with students who have significant special needs. All of our students were engaged in the activities and loved the lesson. With visual, musical, and hands on aspects, all of the students’ needs were met. We can't wait to have them back to travel to new destinations around the world!"

Jennifer S.,
School Psychologist

Make your own blue-ringed octopus: 10" round pizza board, blue cellophane, shells, flat shimmer beads, manilla paper, sparkle foam, 1" googly eyes, and nylon knee-highs.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Two Footprints of the Mind Participants Selected as National Winners

We are thrilled to announce that the illustrations by Footprints of the Mind participants Miss Zoe G. "The World and its Beauty," and Miss Abby M., "The World is My Shell," were selected as two of the six national winners of the Barbara Bartz Petchenik World Children's Mapping Competition. Congratulations to Zoe and Abby!

Zoe "The World and its Beauty", Under 6 Category National Winner

Abby "The World is my Shell", 9-12 Category National Winner

Map illustrations have passed 4 rounds of voting. Last week, at the Annual Meeting of the Association of American Geographers, the 21 National Finalists were displayed at the Chicago Hyatt Regency Hotel, and geography professionals and supporters voted via text message on their cell phones for their favorite map illustrations. Zoe and Abby's illustrations were among the six top vote recipients.

Their illustrations will now be forwarded to the International Competition, taking place in Rio de Janeiro at the General Assembly of the International Cartographic Association (from 22-28 August 2015). You can read more about the international competition here. The final announcement will be made by September.

The illustrations become the property of the ICA and will be archived in a library at Carleton University in Canada. Past international winners have been published in books by ESRI Press and on calendars for UNICEF.

Congratulations to our WINNERS, and we thank you for your support! Please join us in rooting for Zoe and Abby's illustrations!

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Three Footprints of the Mind Participant Finalists Chosen for Children’s Map Competition

Chicago, IL - April 22, 2015 – Three Chicago students have been selected as National Finalists for their World Children’s Map submission created through Footprints of the Mind, a Chicago-based company dedicated to teaching children about the importance of geography through interactive activities. The children, ages 5-11, submitted their illustrations for consideration to the Barbara Bartz Petchenik International Children's Mapping Competition 2015, an event created with the aim of promoting the creative representation of the world in graphic form by children.

This week, their illustrations will be among the final 21 being considered for the top six spots during the national meeting of the Association of American Geographers, currently taking place that the Hyatt Regency Hotel (through April 24). These 21 finalists were chosen by a committee of judges from the US Census Bureau, the Association of American Geographers, two universities, and software company ESRI Inc. This next round of winners will be chosen by the 8,000 geographers in attendance who will vote online for their six favorites. Those six maps continue to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, to compete in the international competition in August.

This year’s theme is “My place in today’s world” and the three Chicago winning finalists being considered are:

Abby M., age 11, for "The World is My Shell"
Ramya R., age 5, for "My Wonderful World"
Zoe G., age 5, for "The World and its Beauty" 

Footprints of the Mind is breaking the mold as to how geography is taught by sharing the world in a way that makes sense to kids,” says Irene Antonoglu, founder of Footprints of the Mind. “As a result, we’re bringing up the next generation to be more globally-minded and have a better understanding of other cultures – a necessary prerequisite in diplomacy and peace. Having our students participate in this map competition was a no-brainer. Giving kids the outlet to express themselves while fusing geography with creativity and imagination produced some really incredible works of art.”

The six winners will be announced on April 30.

For more detailed information about the competition, please visit the website of the Commission on Cartography and Children.

About Footprints of the Mind 
Footprints of the Mind provides geography enrichment to elementary aged children through innovative school programming, interactive workshops, Global Adventure Country KITs, and award-winning products such as its Wander our World app.  Our mission is
to engage children in a dynamic environment to learn geography and develop lifelong cultural awareness, love for travel, and an indispensable global outlook. To learn more, visit

NOTE TO MEDIA: Hi-res .jpg images of the artwork are available upon request. Please contact Irene Antonoglu at or call her at 773-517-8472.

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Wander Our World to Nigeria

One of the best things about Wander Our World is the hands-on experience of our Travel Trunk. During our in-person classes, we never know when we are going to spark a child's wonderment as every child is different.  Some like the stories we read, some prefer the videos, some like our craft projects, some prefer our Q and A about country facts, but nearly every single one of the children we have met over the years have expressed curiosity and excitement during the time we pass around the precious items from our Travel Trunk.

What is the Travel Trunk?
Our fun picture pretending to travel on a plane with the Travel Trunk as a VIP passenger.
Our travel trunk is our mobile museum.  We source products that were made from the country of origin, or are representative of something that they country is known for, such as our didgeridoo for Australia (though we would absolutely LOVE to have one made in Australia!). We pass around the artifacts while sitting in a circle and every child has the ability to examine them and enjoy the tactile experience.

Recently I was inspired to take photos of a few of the items in our Nigerian Travel Trunk.

 Ibeji twin figures
Yoruba mask
Hausa basket bowl
If you are interested in learning more about our after-school programs or In-School Field Trips, please visit our website

Can you find Nigeria on the map?

Sunday, June 8, 2014

The Deep Blue Sea - A World Oceans Day Event

The United Nations has recognized World Oceans Day (June 8th) since 2008.  At Footprints of the Mind, we also recognize the importance of the world's oceans and have hosted special workshops to celebrate this day.  This was our 3rd year participating in World Oceans Day and our workshop did not fail to impress.

Our workshop inspiration came from the book The Deep Blue Sea, by Audrey Wood.

Image credit:
Our group of young travelers constructed their own "red rock in the middle of the deep blue sea" and dubbed it United Nations Island complete with U.N. member flags.  We then learned some SCUBA sign language to assist us with our imaginative dive into the beautiful waters.  We watched some vibrant and exciting videos from dive masters, and used what we learned about marine life to help design our own sea creature art project.
Using sign language, the Footprint of the Mind "divers" are telling us they see scorpion fish in the sea.
 We wrote pledges on what we will do this year to help protect our oceans.  Some awesome pledges include:
"I promise to recycle to protect our oceans."
"I promise to stop drinking from plastic water bottles."
"I promise to clean up after going to the beach to protect our oceans."
A special THANK YOU to all our wonderful World Oceans Day travelers for participating in our special workshop recognizing the importance of protecting our oceans.  We look forward to seeing you again soon while we Wander Our World!

Monday, April 14, 2014

Earth Day 2014: Building a Green Chicago

It is no surprise to me that when we host an Earth Day class that includes up-cycling recyclables into something amazing that our workshop kids will deliver.  Earth Day 2014 was no different.  We set out to recreate the city of Chicago in a green way.

Before beginning construction we listened to a talk from our environmental and LEED certified civil engineer.

Then the fun began!  The City of Chicago came to life, complete with paper towel roll antennas on the Willis (Sears) Tower and the John Hancock buildings, Navy Pier, tall ships, brownstones, and condos with roof top gardens - all out of recyclable materials.  Job well done, Footprints of the Mind world wanderers!