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Raising Globally Aware Kids: Getting Started

How to start raising globally aware kids – tips for parents and educators.

raising globally aware kids

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It’s easy to start a conversation with kids about world cultures when their parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles have all lived overseas. But you don’t need these connections to raise globally aware kids!

Tips for Raising Globally Aware Children

Here are three easy ways to create ties to foreign countries that don’t require personal connections:

Start simple

Learn country names, or continent names. Teach them where your home is on a world map. Look at different world maps – flat ones, globes, pictures of the earth from outer space. Make your own felt map of the world! I also love the LeapFrog Tag World Map for learning names of countries with simple facts – and so do my kids! Find a nice children’s atlas – readers, do you have one that you especially love?

Follow a Theme

My kids love looking at the weather from around the world. It’s an easy way for them to understand how similar and different life is at any given moment, all around the world. We have also used food to teach our kids about world cultures. Stories are another fun theme, and Kid World Citizen recently ran a very fun series looking at Cinderella stories from around the world! Other themes I want to try with my kids include looking at traditional dress, national anthems, and national plants and animals.

Take a Virtual Trip Around the World

Pick a starting point, and try to travel through as many countries as possible before returning home. Or visit by continents. Spin the globe with your eyes closed, and virtually visit the place your finger lands on when it stops spinning (a favorite from my own childhood). The internet makes it very easy to see clips from all around the world! I do recommend parents viewing clips beforehand so that you know what your kids are going to see – descriptions are not always accurate! The Little Passports subscription service is a great way to add some structure to these explorations.

What are your favorite ways to learn about the world alongside your kids?

MaryAnne is a craft loving educator, musician, photographer, and writer who lives in Silicon Valley with her husband Mike and their four children.

29 thoughts on “Raising Globally Aware Kids: Getting Started”

  1. We like to map the books we read – putting post-it notes on a map with the book title once we locate where the book takes place. We also have the global See and Say that the kids have used for YEARS! Such a great learning toy with cultural tips, languages and maps. And during the summer, we have ‘heritage’ weeks where we read books, watch videos and try new recipes from countries where our ancestors hailed. LOVE your post!

  2. Some great tips here! I’ve never heard of the leapfrogs map so might have a look to see if they stock in any of the toy stores near by. I’ve always wanted a globe though but think my toddler would destroy it thinking it was a bouncy ball!

  3. I second the recommendation of the DK World Atlas.

    We started sponsoring some children through Compassion International recently, which has sparked my children’s interest in their culture, location, etc.

  4. I don’t think it will come as a big surprise when I say that my favorite way is reading. Not a week is passing by when we are not reading a book or two set in a different place and/or a different time. It does help to have a family far away too and get postcards from different places around the world…

  5. Hi, Your ideas are so great! I babysit my grand daughters and are going to the library today to see what we can find about different countries and cultures. Will keep my eye out for Leap Frog Tag maps too. Thanks

  6. I have 2 girls and their becoming globally is so important to me. My husband and I met as backpackers and both love to travel, we are different nationalities (my kids will soon have 3 passports each) and we are expats (Europeans living in Australia). We want our girls to have the love of travel and exploring other cultures that we both have. We hope to travel widely with them as they grow (only 8wo and 2yo at present) – what better education can there be? I can’t wait until they’re old enough for world maps! Great ideas here, thanks for sharing. Only just found your site via Facebook today, so pleased I did :)

  7. I love these tips and how accessible they are. I am still trying to find the perfect maps for our house. The ones I got are too big, but we do get them out from time to time to look at and explore. We also use google maps a lot. Our favorite other ways (in addition to your suggestions) that use include reading books that feature different cultures/countries and we have also used dinosaur books and cards to explore the map, seeing where different dinosaurs live and finding that place on the map, then putting the dinosaur card in that location. We also did simple letter matching with magnet letters and the map. (Wow – I think I need to do a map post!)

      1. Love that map! My kids really like the National Geographic animals cards for Tag.

        The globe is a pretty basic one, Replogle.

  8. We like to use placemats that have the map of the word printed on it. If someone has a question about a country, we can look right at that placemat for the answer. We are also big on food and travel to teach kids about other cultures. I also like to expose them to foreign languages, even if it’s just please and thank you. I think it all helps.

    1. Placemats are a great idea! I should make or get some for my kids – thanks for the idea!

      I also agree that any exposure helps – even just a little.

  9. I love your spin the globe game! I’ve been busy researching children’s books – next year we plan to travel the world through books.

  10. Oooh I love all your ideas! We’ve had fun going to cultural festivals, and we also make sure to expose our son to his families and our roots.

  11. I love fairy tales, so different fairy tales and books. I need to double check I’ve pinned the Cinderella post. I’m always amused how many different variations there are on that idea.

  12. I feel so fortunate that we’re able to travel the world with our kids. I absolutely love the education they are getting. I love your ideas for raising globally aware kids! When we were traveling to England and Ireland, we looked at foods and customs and even made some traditional foods. My kids loved it.

  13. I don’t know why we keep stopping and starting…I just need to follow through!
    We are all getting passports soon, so that if we can figure it out we want to go visit my sister in Germany! That will be a first for me…going oversees! :) It won’t be for a year or so…but the thought is exciting!

    1. Visiting Germany would be amazing! Where would it be?

      I think it’s fine for cultural experiences to happen in spurts – the kids are getting the knowledge, and you are getting them interested!

  14. Great ideas! On atlases, we live our DK world atlas. I also recently discovered the book A Life Like Mine, for which a portion of the proceeds go to UNICEF. It’s a great resource, too :)

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