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. Parents.com 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.
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.