What today’s children can do to build their cultural awareness

by Lauren Reeves on 12-02-2014 Kids Education
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What today’s children can do to build their cultural awareness

Last week during Chinese New Year, my family and I were blessed to be invited over to our neighbour’s place for a traditional new year celebration. Our little ones really enjoyed trying all the traditional Chinese dishes, learning about new year traditions and were even given ‘red pocket money’ for good luck. This got me thinking about the culturally diverse world our children live in today. Today more than ever, our children need to learn to respect and appreciate that everyone is different - whether it’s their hair colour, skin colour, race... Here are some kids activities that helps to extend your child’s cultural learning.

1. A delicious way to learn about another culture

Last week I helped my daughter to prepare sushi and Tempura for her school’s International food fair. Even though we struggled making sushi for the first time but it was a fun way to learn about a different culture. Try out different exotic dishes at home with your kids and take the opportunity to teach them about a different culture, their eating preferences and habits. Or look up cooking schools that run classes on preparing food from different cultures.

2. Obtain a world of knowledge through books

Consult with staff at your local libraries for a list of recommended readings on the topics of culture, race and diversity. In the meantime, here are some recommended books to get your kids started:

  • My Name is Yoon by Helen Recorvits - a touching story about how a young Korean girl struggles with her new found identity in a foreign country when she’s told to start writing her name in English, instead of Korean.
  • Black, White, Just Right! by Marguerite W. Davol
  • It’s okay to be Different by Todd Parr
  • The Color of Us by Karen Katz.

3. Try a different kind of sport

For the sporty and active type, encourage your kids to give sports from different cultures a try:

  • Karate lessons is a great sport that teaches self awareness, self defence, concentration and focus
  • Wing Chun might be slow pace in the beginning but your kids will enjoy the feeling of zen and relaxation that comes with it over time
  • For something fun and more upbeat, contemporary dancing such as African dancing is a good option to consider

4. Travel to another world through Cultural events

Keep an eye out for exhibitions and workshops run by your local museums and art galleries. Most of the events often have dedicated activities or tours that caters to teaching kids about world history and culture. Make sure you sign up to gallery/ museum event mailing list so that you won’t miss out on the next big exhibition on Roman history or Aboriginal paintings

5. Learn the craft of another country

Each culture has crafts that are unique to them and that they are proud of. Learning the craft of a different culture is a great way to appreciate cultural diversity in a hands-on way. Teach your kids how to make animals out of Japanese origami papers or carve wooden Russian Babushka dolls and decorate them with bright colours and patterns.

Most importantly, encourage your kids to question the unknown to learn and build awareness about different cultures. For more activities for kids that helps with cultural learning, head over to our ActiveActivities directory for more inspirations.

Lauren Reeves

Lauren has two very excitable school age kids, as well as a full time corporate career. She manages to juggle the two roles and (mostly) maintain her sanity with the help of her ever-supportive partner. Lauren particularly loves cycling, as well as taking nourishing breaks in quieter parts of New Zealand. She lives with her family in Auckland and began blogging for ActiveActivities recently.