Thursday, May 10, 2012

10 Ways to Explore the World Without Leaving Home

By far, the best way to learn about world cultures is to travel. But, for many people, that is not possible. Here are 10 fun ways to explore the world without leaving home. You may have to take a trip to your local library or grocery store, but that's it. Get ready to explore the world!

1. Read a book. Your library is probably full of books to help you and your kids explore the world. Check the nonfiction section for travel guides, history books, cookbooks, and more. In the fiction section, you can find books about the folklore, history, or other novels set in a different country. Here is a list of fun books to help your kids experience Russia and No Time For Flashcards has a great list of books about Asia for kids.

2. Make a craft. One of our favorite was to learn about other cultures is to make a craft from that culture. We've made Rangoli designs from India and kokeshi dolls from Japan. Dilly-Dali Art made Aboriginal dot paintings and The Educator's Spin On It painted Dala horses from Sweden. The possibilities are endless!

3. Listen to music. Your local library probably has a selection of cds with music from around the world. Check one out. Dance, sing, and enjoy a new sound. Or, you can check out YouTube. Search for international music for kids, or check out this channel from African Treehouse for African music and African versions of popular children's songs.

4. Hear or read a first-hand account. Do you know someone who has lived in a foreign country? See if they would be willing to tell your children a bit about that country. Don't know any one? Then read a first-hand account. Mama Smiles has an Exploring Geography Series on her blog which offers first-hand accounts from such places as Belgium, Kenya, Germany, and many more.

5. Learn about the animals. My girls are endlessly fascinated with animals. One way we've learned about other countries is to learn about the native animals. We learned about pandas from China. We also learned about peacocks and tigers from India. KidWorldCitizen shows you how to use favorite animals to learn about the world. 

6. Explore the folklore. Read some of the traditional stories of a culture; those that have been passed down year after year after year. World of Tales has a huge collection of folk tales from around the world or check your library for all sorts of wonderful choices like this folk tale from India. Mom to 2 Posh Lil Divas recently explored the literature and folk tales of Russia.

7. Experience the food. Take a trip with your taste buds! Trying new foods is a wonderful and fun way to experience another culture. We've made tea and scones from England as well as a traditional almond cake from Sweden. You can find a wide variety of foods to make through the Around the World in 12 Dishes challenge. This multi-blogger challenge was started by Glittering Muffins and every month we explore a different country through their food. Send your taste buds travelling! 

8. Play a game. Games are universal and your kids can experience a new culture by playing a traditional game. KidWorldCitizen shows you how to play the simple game of Nim; a game that was said to have originated in ancient China. has a great article sharing 10 fun games from around the world.

9. Make and play a traditional instrument. Every culture has music and dance associated with it. Why not learn to play some traditional music from around the world. Daria Music shows you how to make and play a Didgeridoo, a traditional instrument from Australia. You can also find instructions for making and playing a Guiro, a traditional instrument from Latin America.

10. Celebrate a new holiday or festival. Celebrations are an important part of every culture. Learn about a new culture by celebrating its holidays. NurtureStore celebrated Diwali by making salt dough candle holders. We made paper lanterns to celebrate the Lunar New Year.

**Bonus: Check Pinterest! I found so many fun global ideas that I couldn't list them all. Check my Around the World Pinterest board for more fun. There are also two collaborative Pinterest boards full of ideas, World Culture and Global & Diverse Kids. It's time to travel the world without leaving home!

Do you have any fun ideas for exploring the world without leaving home?

Since writing this post, we've used it as a blueprint many times for learning about a new culture. We've recently started a HUGE project where we are going to do an art project inspired by each country. You can read our introduction post here, Project Around the World, or click on the graphic below to see all the projects we have done so far.

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  1. What a great post!! I love it, Terri! Well done!

  2. What a wonderful list of tips! There is so much you can learn from home thanks to the internet!

    Thanks for sharing our Exploring Geography series!

  3. awesome! =) this post teaches evryone to have the chance to explore the world.

  4. LOVE these ideas! I write about "international staycations" in NYC as the mission of my blog and I'm definitely going to use these ideas with my daughter:

  5. These are greast ideas. My 3 yr old is really interested in New York at the moment and it's not really feasible for us to travel to the US right now! I'm going to use some of these ideas as inspiration to teach him about NYC. Thank you!

  6. I absolutely love this post! So many great ideas for exploring the world with kids.

  7. we are using which you send/receive postcards to/from around the world- we have a world map on our wall. when we have a new country, we find it on the map and look up info online about culture, food, etc.

  8. Kids LOVE to learn about the world! We are on week 46 of a 52 week project learning about a different country each week! I love that my 6 year old knows all the continents and my 4 year old is always asking me questions about places in the world!! It was so worth the extra work! Check us out!

  9. Thanks for linking up at Discover & Explore - featuring you this week!

  10. Even I love making different Rangoli designs every year. This Diwali I am surely going to pick something from here. Lovely designs must say! Thanx for sharing.

  11. You have wonderful ideas and helpful links! I am trying them all! Thank you!

  12. My wife and I like your ideas! We have been teaching cultures at home for as long as our kids have been with us, and are now working for an organization that seeks to help Internationals in our area through friendship and hospitality. In the end, these friendships open doors to meeting other social needs in their families, and serve to build bridges that help them enter our culture more effectively. I would suggest adding one thing to your well thought out list: identify an international family or individual in your community and work at building a friendship with them by sharing a meal or some cultural event together.


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