The internet and modern transportation make global awareness both attainable and necessary on a new level! I want my children to grow up with the depth of knowledge that comes only by studying the cultures of the world. Traveling across the world is ideal, but that isn’t currently possible for my family. Here is what we do from home:
- Keep a map of the world in the house. Use it for play and education. Studying the weather around the world is a great introduction to different countries, climate, and seasons.
- Explore the different countries at a developmentally appropriate level. I started my Exploring Geography series to provide greater access to first-hand accounts of countries for parents.
- Travel the world via your local zoo. Learn about where the animals are from, what the climate is like, and then branch out to local cultures.
- Remember that global diversity doesn’t have to be international diversity! Small towns have their own cultures, as do large cities. Look at your local history. Visiting a living history site is a great way to increase your child’s global awareness – and there is plenty to be learned at a toy museum, ice cream factory, farm, or!
- Start at the grocery store. Visit the international foods section and try a new food, or go to the produce aisle, pick a fruit or vegetable, and learn about the country it was shipped from. Then look up the country where that fruit or vegetable was originally found!
- Spin a globe with your eyes closed, running your finger across the surface. When the globe stops spinning, see what you can learn about where your finger stopped. Even if you land in the middle of the ocean, chances are there is an island nearby to discover!
- Read books! There are so many incredible picture books about world cultures, although it can be challenging to find accurate stories about smaller countries. Global Cultures is the theme for the MeMeTales Readathon this week, so that’s a great place to start! Six-year-old Emma especially enjoyed Good Fortune in a Wrapping Cloth.
- Travel through linguistics! Take your child’s name and see what variations you can find on it around the world. The same can be done with a favorite word or phrase, especially with online tools like Google Translate!
- Take advantage of local diversity. My kids have friends from India, Ghana, Germany, and Norway – making it very easy to introduce these cultures! They also have a Russian uncle, a half-Russian cousin, and the photos and stories from the time various members of my family spent living in Guatemala, France, Bolivia, Austria, Nicaragua, Ukraine, Japan, China, Romania, Russia, and Sweden. Mike’s dad was born in Lebanon, and we can trace his childhood footsteps through Lebanon, Egypt, Malta, and Switzerland.
- Channel history. Where were your ancestors from? Who founded your town? Where did they come from?
What are your favorite ways to introduce your children to the world?
Disclosure: I wrote this piece in part to support the MeMeTales summer readathon, and I receive copies of their summer reading books in exchange for writing posts on this blog.