Iraq Country Study 2018-03-08T01:43:47+00:00

Welcome to Our Iraq Country Study!

The Books:

Note: I was able to find most of these books in our local library, but some are so beautiful that they make wonderful additions to your home library. Not every book is necessary for this study, but we read all of them, one at a time, during our morning story times. Stories are a wonderful way to become familiar with a culture.

Just in case the Amazon book links didn’t load on your computer, here is a written book list:

The Three Princes: A Tale from the Middle East – Kimmel
Sindbad: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights – Zeman
Sindbad in the Land of Giants: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights – Zeman

Sindbad’s Secret: From the Tales of the Thousand and One Nights – Zeman
The Enchanted Storks: A Tale of Baghdad – Shepard
Mosque – Macaulay
Season of the Sandstorms (Magic Tree House) – Pope Osborne

Introduction to Iraq:

To introduce your children to the landscape of Iraq, watch the following video with them.

Note: This video is from before the war.

Mapping Iraq:

Mapmaking is such an exciting project for children. Not only is your child learning thedownload
geography of Iraq in a much more memorable way than fill in the blank maps, but she is learning a historic art form. I find that my children truly learn and retain their geography when they create their own maps, as they are having a visual, kinesthetic, and artistic experience while learning the geography of the region. Here is how we approached mapping Iraq.

Materials: watercolor paper (we use 11 x 17) waterproof India ink pen, watercolors, colored pencils, an atlas or computer for reference maps

(Prepare a cutout in the shape of Iraq by outlining Iraq and cutting it out for your children to trace around- or they can freehand draw Iraq on their maps)


Begin by looking at an atlas and ask your children to locate Iraq on the world map.  Make a note that it is in Asia. Then look at a map of Iraq. Notice bordering countries and name them out loud. Ask your children if they can find the capital of Iraq (Baghdad).

Explain to your children that Iraq is a very historic region, and that one of the very first civilizations formed in Iraq. Point to the two large rivers and tell your children that they are the Tigris and the Euphrates rivers. Explain to them that thousands of years ago people called the land between these two rivers Mesopotamia, which means “the land between two rivers.”

Note: We just completed this country study. Because I know we are beginning ancient history next year, I used this as an opportunity to help my children become familiar with the region.

Have your children make an outline of Iraq on their paper that includes the surrounding land. In other words, don’t make it look like an island. It is important that children know which regions border water or land.

Have your children outline all land around Iraq with the India ink pen. If they can, ask them to draw in the bordering countries. Have them label Iraq and locate the capital city of Baghdad and label it as well. Ask them to label the surrounding countries. Now have them watercolor Iraq any color they want, the surrounding land grey to show that we are not focusing on it, and the oceans blue.

Rivers, Lakes, and Gulfs:

Click on this link or use your atlas to locate the Tigris and Euphrates rivers. Explain to your children that for thousands of years, the people who have lived in this region have depended on these rivers. Then have them draw and label them on their maps using a blue colored pencil.

Click on this link to see the two largest lakes in Iraq. They are called buhayrat al- Tharthar, and buhayrat Razazah (buhayrat means sea in arabic, but it can double as lake). Have your children draw and label them on their maps.

Use the link above to locate the Persian Gulf. Explain to your children that the Persian Gulf becomes the Arabian Sea, which becomes the Indian Ocean. Use this link to show that.

Mountain Ranges:

Use this link to locate the Zagros Mountains, which spread from southern Turkey all the way down the western border of Iran. Have your children label the Zagros Mountains using upside down V’s in brown colored pencil.


Click on this link. The entire western border that shows a somewhat hazy dotted texture is a desert. It is referred to sometimes by parts; the northern part of the desert being called the Syrian desert and the southern either the Iraqi or Arabian desert. I have most often seen it being called the Syro-Arabian desert, so that is what we titled ours. Use a brown pencil to shade the desert region a little darker than the rest of the map and label it.

Major Cities:

Use this link to locate some of Iraq’s major cities. Have your children label some of them on their maps. Notice how to this day, the populated areas are still clustered around the two rivers.


Add a compass rose, a map key, and title your map. You are finished!

Wildlife Map of Iraq:

Learning about the wildlife of the country you are studying is equally as important as learning about download (1)the geography and cultures, as hopefully we are raising a generation that will contribute to the well being of our planet, the protection of species, and the preservation of wildlife. There is no better way to contribute to that goal than to nurture in our children, from a young age, a respect and admiration for nature and wild life.

Materials- a cutout of Iraq (same cutout used for the first map), a large piece of thick paper, (we always use watercolor paper so that these projects last), colored pencils, india ink pen, and either block crayons or watercolors.)

Unfortunately, I could not find any wildlife documentaries for Iraq.

To Begin:

Outline Iraq in dark green colored pencil. Outline the land around Iraq in grey or brown to keep the focus on Iraq.

Click here to learn about animals that live in Iraq. Have your children pick their favorite animals to draw on their maps. Then ask them to label the animals. Here is another link to learn about animals in Iraq.

Date trees are a very important native tree in Iraq. If your child would like, have them draw a date tree on the map.

Have them title their maps, “Wildlife of Iraq.”

Then, with watercolors or block crayons (or the side of a stick crayon), have your children color Iraq green, the surrounding land gray or brown, and the ocean blue.

Flag of Iraq:

Click here to see a picture of the flag of Iraq. The writing in the center translates to “God is Great,” download (8)and is written in Arabic script.

If you want to trace the letters, click here for a printable of the flag.

Religion and Language in Iraq:

The main religion in Iraq is Islam and the main language spoken is Arabic.

Create a Mosque:

Mosques, which are what muslims call their houses of worship, are plentiful in Iraq. They are built with beautiful domes, decorated elaborately with Arabic calligraphy and arabesque art, and always have a minaret from which the call to prayer resounds.

Materials: paper bags of various sizes, colorful card stock, glue stick, scissors, large black poster board for background, and a print out of the template from the link below

We had so much fun with this project. The result was beautiful!

Click here for directions and templates for this project. Enjoy!

download (7)

Islamic Art on Tiles:

Because Muslims generally don’t depict human forms in art, the Muslim world has mastered geometric art. Much of Arab and Islamic art uses geometric forms, images from nature, or florals. Painted tiles are a very traditional art form and often even decorate mosques. Above are a few examples of geometric forms used to create magnificent art. The eight pointed star is seen often in Arabic and Islamic art. It is created by making a square, then tilting the tile, and drawing another square on top of the first.

Create Your Own Painted Tile:

Materials: Sculpey white clay (or another brand of oven bake clay), sharpie marker, tempera paint or poster paint, oven.

Roll out your piece of clay and, with a butter knife or clay tool, cut it into the shape of a square.
Follow the direction on the box to bake it. Allow it to cool after.
Using the black sharpie marker, draw an eight pointed star on the tile.
Paint your tile.

Make Your Own Prayer Beads:

If you walk through a market in any Muslim region, one thing you will see in shops as well as in download (4)people’s hands are prayer beads. Some are made of olive wood, some of stones, and some of plastic. All of them have 99 beads and a tassel on the end. They are used for remembrance of God and for what could be translated as meditation.

Make Your Own Prayer Beads:

Materials: Beads of your children’s choice, string, and yarn for a tassel. 

String 99 beads and then tie it off, leaving enough string to tie the tassel on.
Click here to learn how to make a tassel.
Tie the tassel onto the prayer beads.

Make Lantern Light Catchers:

Click here to make these beautiful Middle Eastern lantern decorations. download (11)

Materials: Black poster board, tissue paper, scissors, glue stick, string for hanging.

Click on the above link to print out templates for this project.
Have your children pick out which lantern shape they want to use.
Cut out the shape and then use it to trace the shape onto your poster board.
Cut out the shape from the poster board.
Parents help: use a craft knife to cut out the middle of the lantern.
Turn the lantern over and glue tissue over the window.
Punch a hole in the top and tie a string through. Attach it above a window so that it hangs down to capture the sunlight.

Magic Flying Carpet Game:

This is so much fun and culminates in tons of giggles!download (12)

Materials: Kleenex tissue, marker, scissors, straws

Make your little magic flying carpets by cutting a small piece of kleenex into a rectangle, drawing a pattern on the front, and cutting little fringes on the edges. Each child should have a magic flying carpet.

Give your children their straws and have them hold their carpets above the straws (which should be in their mouths). Say, “Ready, set, go!” and have them blow their carpets into the air. The object of the game is to see who can keep their carpet in the air the longest.

Cook a Traditional Iraqi Dinner:

Cooking day, as I have mentioned before, is by far, my children’s favorite country study activity. If you haven’t cooked with your kids before, you might be tempted to pass over this activity, but please don’t. It is such a wonderful part of the country studies and your children will have so much fun! My children always feel so proud of the meals they prepare. To make it even more exciting, we love to play music from the country we are studying while cooking.

For our traditional Iraqi dinner, we made an Iraqi cassrole called Tepsi Baytinijan. There are a few steps to it, but the kids had a great time, as they each had many jobs. This turned out delicious and was quite enjoyable to make. We played music from the link below as we cooked and truly enjoyed ourselves.

Click here for the recipe for Tepsi Baytinijan.

Click here for a recipe for a delicious Iraqi Salad.


Traditional Iraqi Music and Dance:

Click on the links below to see:

Kazim Saher singing live – Kazim Saher is a very beloved singer in Iraq and though he is contemporary, he sings in the more classical Iraqi style.

Iraqi Classic Instrumental Music

Iraqi Folk Dance 1

Iraqi Folk Dance 2

Kurdish Folk Dance

Iraqi Folk Dance performed by children