Teaching your kids about world cultures helps them appreciate the differences in people and their traditions. Put down the textbook and travel around the globe without ever needing a suitcase. Use your imagination and these activities that teach your children about world cultures.
1. Create a Passport
International travel requires a passport, so start your foreign adventures by creating a passport. Before you begin, show your child the reasons we use a passport and what they look like.
Next, help her make a small booklet to serve as her passport. The pages should be blank on the inside. That way, you can draw, use a sticker or glue a picture of the country's flag to stamp the pages of her passport as she "travels" from country to country to learn about world cultures.
2. Map It Out
Now that she has a passport, she's ready to travel the world. Print a world map and use push pins to illustrate where the country's located.
Every time you learn about a new country, use another push pin on your world map. See how many countries she can visit.
3. Study the Weather
Kids who live in Ohio won't have to worry about a willy willy. But where will you find these conditions? How's the weather in Zimbabwe today?
Weather is more than the basics of sun, rain, wind and snow. Learn about the weather in other countries to give her the full experience of what it's like for other kids who live there.
4. Get Crafty
Make Muslim clothing when learning about Islamic countries. Try your hand at Mexican handicrafts when learning about Mexico.
Take your world culture lessons even further when you let her create or wear the types of crafts you would find in that country. Beadwork, clothing, pottery, origami -- the possibilities are endless.
5. Go Shopping
In Bangkok shopping centers, you can buy everything from religious amulets to pet squirrels. Search for jade or haggle for high-tech electronics in Hong Kong's markets. Look for the horse drawn delivery carts when shopping in Ireland.
These shopping experiences are completely different than our local malls. Learn about each country's marketplace through pictures and articles. Search YouTube for videos of street markets in other countries. You'll be surprised at how much your child can learn about world cultures from thousands of miles away through many resources you can find online.
6. Cook Authentic Recipes
How does Japanese food taste? What types of food would you find on a typical menu in Germany?
Cook authentic recipes together. Find what foods are popular in the country you two are studying. Use the About.com Food Channel for inspiration to find iconic Australian and New Zealand foods, traditional British recipes, Chinese dishes, Indian meals, South American foods and more.
7. Find a Pen Pal
Forget texting. Letters to pen pals are a classic way for kids to communicate with friends they may never get to meet. They're also a hidden lesson in language arts and social studies.
Search for a pen pal in the country you're learning about with your child. There are many free websites that will match your child with pen pals around the world. This pen pal primer will get you started.
8. Learn Cultural Etiquette
What we might do in our home country isn't necessarily appropriate in other countries. Learning about each culture's etiquette can be enlightening for you both.
Pointing your feet in Thailand is offensive. Your left hand is considered unclean in India, so pass all food or objects to other people with your right.
Learn about cultural etiquette with your child. Try practicing this country's dos and don'ts of etiquette for a day or week. What happens to citizens when they break the rules of etiquette? Are they simply frowned upon or is it a punishable offense?
9. Teach the Language
Learning a foreign language is fun for kids. Fortunately for parents, we don't have to know how to speak every single language to help our kids.
When you're exploring world cultures, study each country's official language. Learn basic words your child already knows. Teach both written and spoken form.
Not sure how to pronounce the words? Visit the About.com language labs for French, German, Italian, Japanese, Mandarin Chinese and Spanish to hear correct pronunciations.
10. Celebrate Holidays
Keep a calendar of upcoming holidays celebrated in other countries. Celebrate national holidays just as people in that country do.
For example, Australia, Canada, New Zealand and the United Kingdom observe Boxing Day. The holiday's tradition includes giving money and charitable donations to organizations and people in need. To celebrate, the two of you can box some canned goods for the local food bank, drop a few bills into a charity's bucket or donate old items to a nonprofit.
Teach your child about the history of each holiday too. When did it begin? Why? How has it changed over the years?
Study up on each holiday as it approaches. Decorate your home as you would find streets, businesses and other houses for their observed holidays.