Around the World Wednesday: Learning About Different Cultures with Kids

We all want our children to grow up to be culturally aware, tolerant and skillful at navigating and celebrating the differences between peoples. We may not have the time or money to visit all the various corners of the world, but we can get know them with a little effort.

Parents can capitalize on their kids’ natural curiosity and as a family, it is enormously satisfying to explore new things. We’ve put together a list of topics that act as introductions to other cultures around the globe.

Start with a Map. Each member of the family can take turns covering their eyes and picking a random spot on a world map. Or if someone is particularly interested in another language, or studying a specific subject that involves another location, those are good places to start.

Houses, yurts and huts, how do other children live? It fascinates kids to learn how other cultures build, what their living spaces look like, what kind of objects and tools other cultures value. This fantastic website Kid World Citizen http://kidworldcitizen.org/2012/01/03/a-look-at-houses-around-the-world/ suggests some publications that illustrate what housing is like for families in China, Mongolia and Senegal. If we haven’t said it enough, your local library is also a great resource for photographic collections like these.

Food for Global thought. One of the easiest ways to experience other cultures is through its food. Recipes online abound, and they also may offer some ways to access ingredients locally or find suitable substitutions. We recommend the Rough Guide to Street Food Around the World for some tasty ideas: http://www.roughguides.com/gallery/the-best-street-food-around-the-world/ – /1

Traditional Crafts. Folk art is a window into any group’s identity. Their belief system, their values, their stories and language are all encapsulated in the art a culture produces. The benefits of crafting with your children are many (refer to our Reuse, Recycle and Create blog) (hyperlink) and by making a Mola from Panama, or an Aboriginal mask from Australia, kids get the chance to construct something and learn about these places at the same time.

Invite in Some New Sounds. One of the big universals in humanity is music and this power is what makes each culture special. Putomayo http://www.putumayo.com/putumayo-kids/ has excellent collections of kid friendly music from all over the world, so pick a place, and press play.

Cultivating a sense of discovery and openness is key if you want your family to be knowledgeable and accepting of the world around them. This weekly practice can instill curiosity and respect that will serve your children for the rest of their lives. But beware, when they become adults, it is likely they get the travel bug!

About Susie Almaneih

Susie Almaneih spent several years during her young adulthood teaching children dance at her church group, as well as other cultural-based activities. Susie now spends as much time as she can giving back to the families in her community. Over the years, this love for community has evolved into a deeper love for delivering positive and creative content and awareness to families of all ages.

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