Tuesday, September 6, 2016

Welcome Back to School!

This past year was an inspirational journey for Footprints of the Mind. We broadened our reach and were able to make connections with people far and wide in and around Chicago. We sat in a workshop with National Geographic, met with geographers from the National Council of Geographic Education, and held brainstorming sessions with members of the Chicago Council on Global Affairs.

However, the thing that personally impacted me the most, and the kind of thing that kept me up at night, was the huge disparity in resources between schools.  I taught a workshop to a group of 22 First Graders where more than half had a passport and at least 1/3 had been to the 2 countries I was paid to teach. When told the program cost, the response from the school was “That’s it?” It was frustrating to know that the kids that need us the most were not the ones that could pay for the valuable and immersive experience of our programs.
The difference I saw in my experience in various schools was significant; probably no different at all from many of your own experiences as educators. We met with teachers who embrace a global curriculum, and those who do not. Those who are travelers, and those who are not. Those who recognize that we are making connections and scaffolding student knowledge, and those who think of the program as merely a fun option. Those who spend hours researching the internet sifting for age appropriate content, and those who believe printing a flag and some pages from a workbook will suffice.
I am astounded by my own children’s experiences in this regard. My 6th grader’s peers could not name the 7 continents and 5 oceans. My teenager has an AP Human Geography book with outdated maps and information about International conflicts at least 8 years in the past. Educators are pulled in so many directions that to have a passion in one subject is practically a thing of the past.
This is where we can help.
We continue to meet with principal after principal who immediately recognize the value, and it is never a matter of if they want our programs but rather how they would pay for it. We put on our creative hats and came up with programs that would meet the needs of the students that need us the most.
The options I have outlined in the attached proposals allow me to do what I love doing while at the same time reflecting the needs of the staff as outlined in the new Illinois Social Studies Standards effective Jan. 27, 2016. I am also happy to say that providing the “a la carte” option significantly reduces the cost of the program. By doing this, we are able to make it available to more schools, impacting more students, and strengthening the cultural and global foundation of not only the student body, but the next generation of citizens. 
Take a look and contact your Principals and PTA/PTO’s and let’s work together to provide the best experience possible for your students.
Warm regards,

P.S. Our website is being revamped! Stay in touch for the grand RE-OPENING of Footprints of the Mind! Lots of new and exciting updates to share!

If you are interested in learning more, shoot me an email or fill out our contact form: http://www.footprintsofthemind.com/contact.htm

We would love to partner with you and your students to make this the best year ever!

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 http://www.footprintsofthemind.com.

NOTE TO MEDIA: Hi-res .jpg images of the artwork are available upon request. Please contact Irene Antonoglu at Irene@footprintsofthemind.com 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:  AudreyWood.com
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!