To best incorporate language, culture, and an expanded worldview into a child's day, it's wise to use what is already set in place: a weekly schedule! Repeat these 5 multicultural activities for kids on a weekly basis, and your son or daughter will begin thinking outside-the-ordinary. Have fun!
Start by choosing a different culture every week. Use these weekday suggestions as parameters to build upon. Then, as a pattern develops, watch your child eagerly anticipate the ways new cultures come alive in your home.
Spell new language words using alphabet cereals, carrots, or noodles. Make pancakes into Chinese letters, for example. Count healthy food pieces using the culture's language, or make a cultural dish, together, as you discuss other common foods of the region. While you're in the kitchen, review your food vocabulary with the kids with the help of Little Pim videos or flashcards. You can also learn and teach the kids about the variety of eating utensils from other cultures.
If you have family members who have a different cultural background than you do, invite them over to teach you and your kids about their cuisine and you can even prepare a meal together. Your family can pick up on new words and ethnic ingredients you've never tried which can be fun and tasty!
Tuesdays are about learning the traditions of a culture. Find pictures which display these traditions and common hobbies most popular there. Review parenting traditions and how life events are celebrated differently, for example, have you heard of the "baby grab" tradition celebrated in Korea? The parents give their baby a basket of items associated with a career, i.e. a book for scholars, ball for athletes, food for chefs, toy stethoscope for doctors, etc. Tradition says that the item the baby reaches for first will have some bearing on his or her future.
How do children from these cultures spend their day? Is family important? What is same or different from who we are?
What do children, moms, and dads wear in China (for example)? Does this culture dress special for occasions or holidays? Find articles of clothing or hit the thrift shop to role play with your child as though you live in the area of study. Put on a play or skit to show what you've learned. Alternatively, you can find pictures of cultural attire to share with the kids.
Using story books, articles, and Little Pim, engage in activities suitable to your child's comprehension. Have young children color a picture of a significant holiday, symbol, or food item from the culture you're studying. Start discussions with older children, for example, you might discuss the culture's schooling system or the country's flag. Ask, "What do you think?"
Visit your local library to find books about the culture of the week and take turns reading. You can find children's books that introduce kids to different cultures around the world, focused on cuisine, holidays, and traditions.
Find a movie, short, or some kind of visual representation of the events, foods, and cultural differences discussed this week. What are some famous children's characters from each culture? Learn a native song or cultural dance important to the people.
Go out and explore!
Discover local events within your community to expose your young children to different cultures in your very own neighborhood. For example, if you're living in the NYC-area, here are some fun upcoming events you can attend with your kids:
- Multicultural Food Festival - Thursday, April 14th
- NYC Holi Hai - Saturday, April 30th
- The Queens International Street Market - Saturdays, 6PM-Midnight, starting on April 23rd
- Japan Day at Central Park - Sunday, May 8th, 2016
For further ways to develop your child's awareness of cultures and new languages, start teaching them a second language with Little Pim. If you have any suggestions or upcoming multicultural events in your area, please share them in the comments below. We look forward to growing with you and your child!