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I'm Becky, mom of 5 kiddos through adoption, foster, and birth. Because we have such a mixture of cultures in our house (China, Ethiopia, Mexico, US) I began to look for ways to celebrate our heritages and learn about world celebrations, cuisine, etc. I founded KidWorldCitizen.org
initially to share ideas with other multicultural and adoptive families. It grew and grew, and now I am happy to share ideas with families and teachers to help kids learn about all world cultures and geography.
The most common question I get is "How can my kids learn about the world when we don't have the opportunity to travel?"....or "when we live in a homogenous community?"
Between libraries and the internet there are hundreds
of ways we can connect to the world!
Here are 10 ways you can incorporate culture TODAY into your children's lives- but this is not an exhaustive list! Please add your comments and share ways you learn about the world in your family
1) Snuggle up with a book.
As parents, we read to our kids all the time. By carefully choosing the books, we can:
* explore culture in books that feature kids real lives (such as these books about kids in Ethiopia
* read books that defy stereotypes by showing more than one side of the story. When studying "Africa," for example, choose a specific country instead of an entire continent. Pick stories from rural and urban settings, in the past and the present, folktales and nonfiction. Often times Africa as a continent is portrayed as vast rural stretches of land with abundant wildlife (which does exist, but is not the whole story). There is a danger to a single perspective or stereotype, and kids should not be surprised to learn about bustling cities, where families live, work, and go to school. These stories show some of the kids who live in South Africaís different areas and lifestyles.
* join the Global Read Aloud.
This world-wide book club uses Twitter, Skype, Edmodo, their wiki, email, regular mail, Kidblog, Tackk, and any other tools you can think of to make connections and discuss the book. There are several books to choose from, and kids in kindergarten through college can participate!
Searching out restaurants and supermarkets from different cultures has double the benefits: not only will you be exposing her to diverse ingredients and flavors, you also will meet people who the culture. Cook cuisine from around the world
with your kids. Aside from dinner, try to find breads, typical snacks or breakfast foods- or desserts!
3) Become part of the community.
Community centers are gathering places in the local community for many ethnic groups and immigrants. We have been welcomed into our local Ethiopian church, who recently invited adoptive families to their Easter feast. The outdoor buffet was brimming with injera
and different kinds of wot
, and crowds of kids were running around playing basketball, soccer, and visiting the face-painting clown. Our Children's Museum frequently hosts cultural groups and we have made Turkish marbled paper with the Turkish community, and Norwegian hearts at Christmastime. For Chinese New Year, the Chinese Consulate opens their doors for the celebration: dancers, music, games (how many grains of rice can you pick up with chopsticks?) copious amounts of food, and a gallery of photos from China. I have heard parents express their discomfort at being in the minority at such events: step out of your comfort zones and surround yourself with the new culture.
Learn about traditions and customs for festivals, celebrations, holidays, birthdays
and select some favorites to celebrate. Start small: research the holidays and find out where the closest celebration is. If possible, attend the event, parade, or party as a family. If there is nothing close-by, re-create it in your home: watch clips on youtube, talk to friends of the same culture to gather details, research it on-line to learn more. Don't stop at home- bring the celebrations to your co-op-- who doesn't love a reason to party? Here's an example lesson plan
that I created for preK- elementary school for Chinese New Year.
5) Learn some new words. Language
is such an important part of any culture. If you cannot enroll your child