Engaging your child in international activities can help young children understand why some of her friends look and dress than she does. It can also reinforce lessons on other countries that an older child might be learning in school. Choose age-appropriate activities that will pique your child's interest about other parts of the world and cultures she has never been exposed to.
Cooking International Food
One way to teach kids about other countries is through food. Have an international dinner week and bring her into the kitchen with you to prepare simple dishes native to other countries. This can be anything from Mexican quesadillas to Vietnamese pho soup. Talk about the country that the dish is from, such as its geography and the culture, as the two of you are preparing the dish. You can also talk to older kids about available ingredients and religious dietary restrictions in different countries, and how they relate to the type of food that is prepared.
Make crafts with your child that represent another country. To represent Japan, for example, you could make a Japanese fan using decorative scrapbook paper. Lay the scrapbook paper on a table with the design side down. Fold over the edge about 1 inch, then repeat folding the sheet from end to end, accordion-style. Pinch one end an inch from the edge of the paper, and fold it up to create a handle. Use string, raffia, or rubber bands to secure the handle. For another craft project, your child could make a paper plate necklace to resemble the beaded necklaces that women of the Samburu and Maasai tribes in Kenya wear. Show your child pictures of the necklaces and have her paint the rim of a large paper plate in bright colors similar to the necklaces. Once dry, cut out a small section, no bigger than an inch, from the rim, as well as the middle. Carefully use the cut opening to put the paper plate necklace around your child's neck. The necklace should hang loosely.
Engage your child in games that are popular with kids in other countries. For example, you could play "1, 2, 3 Dragon," from China. For this game, your child and her friends must line up with their hands on the shoulders of the person in front of them. The person in the front of the line is the head and the person at the end of the line is the tail. When the tail says, "1, 2, 3, Dragon!" The head starts to chase the tail, while all the kids must stay connected. If she manages to tag the tail, that person must then become the head. Another idea is to engage older kids in games that help reinforce international lessons they might be learning in school. For example, you could play "World Countries Jeopardy" and come up with questions about geography, climate, culture and food from countries they have studied.
Take your child out to international events that expose her to cultural experiences. For example, your town might have cultural parades, especially in area that might have a large concentration of people from another country. For example, Chicago has a significant Polish population and community organizers have an Polish Constitution Day Parade in early May. You could also attend a cultural festival that includes food and dancing traditional to a specific culture or country, such as a Greek festival, or attend a performance of an international singing or dancing group at an arts center.
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