How culturally aware are your kids?

October 30, 2009

My son’s topic for speech class this week, was to describe  some need in the world today. He chose to speak on the need for Americans to be more culturally aware. As the world becomes more and more a ‘global village’, the need for us all to know more about our ‘neighbors’ in other countries increases. So, how do we teach this to our kids?

If you can possible travel abroad, do. Save every cent, stop eating out at restaurants, and you will find it is do-able. We have taken our kids all over the world, and there is no better way to teach cultural awareness. But if you really can’t travel abroad, look for ways to experience other cultures right where you live. Our city has annual Greek and Spanish festivals. There are Thai, Korean, Japanese, Chinese and Indian restaurants within 10 minutes of our home.

Read books with your kids that are set in other countries. Books are a wonderful way for children to see the world through a different viewpoint. We use Sonlight Curriculum and we loved books like The Wheel on the School set in the Netherlands and The House of the SIxty Fathers set in China. A search on your local library webite should help you find suitable books. Magazines like National Geographic (there is one for kids too) will also open children’s eyes to the world.

My kids have also learned much of their geography and knowledge of foreign cultures by playing computer games, watching travel documentaries and playing geography board games. Fun ways to Teach Geography contains our favorite geography games and movies as well as more ideas on how to teach kids about the world around them.

And of course, America itself has a huge range of indigenous cultures for us to learn about too. Don’t overlook  those as we also need to understand the people we are living among as much as we need to understand those who live across the oceans from us.


Monopolycitystreets online game

September 18, 2009

monopoly city streets
My kids and I are all playing Monopolycitystreets. I was attracted to the game because you play online with people all over the world. That just strikes me as being a pretty cool thing to do.
I wasn’t sure of the educational merit of the game, though. I have encouraged my Entrepreneurship class at co-op to play, but unless they plan to become property magnates – this might not teach them all that much.
BUT – it ended up providing a great impromptu geography lesson this morning. My teenage sons started searching all over the world for a nice long street to buy (as in the board game, you buy a street and put up buildings on it). They tried every major world city they could think of – and everything was bought up. Eventually the used an atlas to find cities and my one son now ‘owns’ a street he can’t even pronounce as it is in Russian (in one of the ‘stans’).
I know everyone is going to be getting on tomorrow again to continue buying and building. I hope the learning continues too!

UPDATE: I just made a Squidoo lens about this game – visit for links to the rules, online forums and other relevant information