Having a Bachelors Degree in Cultural Anthropology along with my Masters in Teaching I knew at some point I was going to combine my two passions and do a world cultures week with my littles. It may seem like those two topics (teaching and culture) don’t vibe, but honestly my anthropology degree came in handy quite often in my classroom, which was always quite diverse when I was teaching at a city school- and at least a little diverse when I was teaching in the ‘burbs. Culture has fascinated me since I was a young child and we did Christmas Around the World in elementary school- it’s so beautiful how different groups of people have met the same basic human needs in different ways and of course I want to pass on that love of diversity to my littles.
Just some housekeeping- I’m setting my plans up a little differently this week: rather than grouping them by subject area, I’m grouping them by continent since the activities for each continent are meant to be done together in a single day. Since there are so many continents we’ll be doing around the world activities this week AND next week too! I’m also adding a new group- food- to the line up the next two weeks! Food is such a fun part of surface culture (culture that can be easily observed like music, clothing, housing, and language) and I think it’s a great way to- ahem- get an authentic TASTE of different countries! I’ll post 3 recipes per continent- each from a different country- so you’ll have some options. I’ll also be doing a separate book list for each continent.
Also, there will be some overlap with my toddler post in the art and math departments this week. I wanted to include an art activity on this post each day, but I wanted to make sure my toddler post would also have plenty of activities for our younger littles. There are some extra activities on my toddler post “Little World Traveler” though like an alpaca craft and maraca making if you want to check them out! Without further adieu- let’s travel the world! Ah! I’m so excited!!!
Literacy: sort continents and oceans by beginning sound- for this activity I wrote all the continents and oceans on note cards then helped my little sound them out by saying all the letter sounds which he put together into a word (pretty challenging considering the length of some of them, but he’s got a good background knowledge from singing the continents and oceans song every day during calendar time and had no trouble with it). Then, I had him identify the first letter in each word and sort them by beginning sound.
Math: count countries- for this activity I printed maps of North America, South America, Europe, Asia, Africa, Antarctica and Australia then tucked them in page protectors (so we could write on them but also use them for another activity later on). I underlined the name of each country/put a dot in it while my little counted them. Then I had him identify which continent had the most countries and which had the least.
Social Studies: comparing maps and globes- I printed out a Venn Diagram then had my little look closely at a globe and a map. I asked him what he noticed that was the same about the two and wrote them in the middle of the diagram, and then asked him how they were different and wrote those down on either side of the diagram. (Other than being round vs. flat this one was trickier, so I asked him to look specifically at the Pacific Ocean on each and Greenland and tell me what he noticed. We also discussed why they were different.)
Art: make a passport- We discussed how you have to have a passport to travel to different countries and I showed my little mine. Then I had him pose for his passport picture and we made him his own “unofficial passport” with a sheet of construction paper, 2 sheets of white paper, his picture, and a cover page he colored. On the first page, I had him glue down his picture (with the page horizontal like in a real passport) and wrote his information (name, birth date, birth place, address, issue date, expiration date- this was a great way for him to review his personal information!) Then on each page inside I wrote the name of a continent. As we go “around the world” the next two weeks through activities and stories, I’m going to have him put stickers from countries in each continent on each page. You can also get stamps- which is more passport like, but I thought the stickers were more fun for the price- I will say countries from Africa and South America were poorly represented though (as in they only gave me one for each)! Along with putting stickers in our passport each day we colored the continents/countries we explored through books and projects on a world map and on continent maps to build map skills and knowledge of world continents and countries.
Booklist: these books are an introduction to world languages and continents (“Hello World” and “Me on the Map” and emphasize the similarities between people throughout the world (“A Cool Drink of Water”, “Everybody Cooks Rice”, “Whoever You Are”). When studying culture it is always good to start with the familiar and then branch out to the different so that children may more easily make connections between themselves and others who might not live in the same way they do.
Literacy: Write countries- my little loves to write real words and it’s a great way to practice handwriting along with letter recognition if you have them say the letters as they write them. For this activity, I just wrote the names of some of the countries in North America with dots, tucked them in a page protector and had my little practice them with a dry erase marker.
Math: Mexico- Sombrero number ordering: I gave my little this sombrero number ordering page, had him carefully cut out the numbers then glue them in the correct order on the hat.
Social Studies: Canada- Real vs. fake maple syrup tasting: First we read “Curious George Makes Maple Syrup” and talked about how real maple syrup is made from the sap of trees, and that sugar maple trees grow really well in cold places like Canada. We even looked up the Canadian flag so I could show my little they have a maple leaf on it! Then, I poured a little real maple syrup and fake syrup on a plate and had my little taste each one. We compared the thickness, color and flavor.
Art: Mexico- Sun craft: First look up Mexican sun art and flip through a few examples to get an idea of what they look like (I just googled it.) Give your little a paper with a circle on it (I just traced a cereal bowl) and have them cut it out. Then give them some triangles and have them glue the circle on a sheet of paper with the triangles around the outer edge. Give them some almond shapes for eyes, then have them add detail with a do-a-dot marker. I made one too because it was just so fun and colorful! I got the idea from Painted Paper Art.
Food: Canada- Jigg’s Dinner aka. Boiled Dinner: Living in Northern Maine (think 30 minutes from Canada) as a kid, this was definitely something that found its way to our table quite often! My mom didn’t actually boil it, but cooked it with water in a big old pan in the oven, but you can definitely do it stove top too like the recipe calls for. It’s actually quite tasty- a bit like corn beef and cabbage if you’ve ever had that!
United States- Loaded Burger Salad: It sounds weird, but this is one of my new favorite recipes! It’s all the yummy flavor of a loaded burger- just with more lettuce and no bread! Plus if you do Whole 30 or Paleo it’s totally compliant!
Mexico- Chilaquiles Verdes: I made these for the first time this week and OH my goodness are they so yummy! I adore salsa verde so that made them an automatic win- but the home fried corn tortilla chips drenched in salsa verde paired with a few fried eggs? To die for! This is actually a traditional Mexican breakfast dish, but we do breakfast for dinner all the time, so we had it for dinner. I made some of the chips in the oven and some in a pan of oil on the stove and both were great (though the oven batch was quicker and less oily). We topped the whole lot with crumbled queso fresca and it was a hit with the whole fam! This will definitely be something I make again!
Literacy: Spell countries with magnet letters: For this activity I wrote a few of the countries in South America on cards, then had my little find the matching letters from a pile of ABC magnets to spell them. He identified each letter as he went too.
Math: Soccer cup crash: When I went to Brazil they were SO in love with the game of soccer that two of my friends were arguing about which team I supported (when I had told them I didn’t watch it at all!) LoL I’m pretty sure this is the way it is in all of South America- soccer is definitely their thing! To celebrate the love of the game, we did a soccer cup crash activity for math this week. I wrote the numbers 1-10 on some solo cups, then called out a number and my little had to kick a small soccer ball to knock the cup over (which was great gross motor skill practice!) Then I had him knock over any cup he wanted and identify the number he had hit. I got this idea from How Wee Learn.
Social Studies: Brazil- Christ the Redeemer statue: We watched a short video on You Tube about the world famous Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio de Janeiro. Then I traced my toddler’s body with his arms outstretched like the statue (we used our white roll of easel paper and did his torso horizontally on the paper then his legs vertically and just taped them together). I added a robe like the statue’s then cut it all out and had my preschooler add details with a grey marker.
Art: Peru- Alpaca/Llama popsicle stick craft: These came out SO CUTE! So you glue together 5 sticks for the face and 4 for the neck (this was the trickiest part…I tried decoupaging them together first by laying them close together on a piece of packing tape then coating them with a few layers of decoupage. It worked fairly well, I just didn’t do enough layers and didn’t let it dry completely. You can also hot glue them together by carefully running a line of glue along each seam and pressing it in place. Then I had my littles paint the alpacas. When they were dry, they added ears and pom poms for fluffy fur and I drew on faces. I got this idea from Teaching With Children’s Books.
Food: Peru- Ceviche: Did you know you can cook fish with lime juice?! So says this authentic ceviche recipe from the website Eat Peru! Honestly I don’t trust grocery store fish to be fresh enough to cook with lime juice, so I just made this with heat cooked frozen shrimp that I defrosted and marinated in the citrus juice afterwards. I also used sweet red peppers rather than spicy because my littles aren’t huge fans of hot food yet! I served it with the recommended sweet potatoes, corn and plantain chips. It was soooo light and yummy- a perfect summery dish I’ll definitely make again!
Brazil- Brazilian Steak with Mango Chimichurri: I made this last week for dinner and it was very tasty! The chimichurri is soooo good, but the steak has a great flavor all on it’s own! I only marinated it for 15 minutes or so and I bet it would be even better overnight!
Chili- Pastel de Choclo: This was fairly easy to whip up and was really yummy and authentic tasting! It’s basically a ground beef and corn bake with black olives, chicken and eggs- definitely something different we’ve never tried before! I felt like I’d actually gone to Chili after eating it! LoL
Literacy: Germany- Beginning sound match: I gave my little a set of traditional German clip art pictures and we went over what each one was (particularly the ones he didn’t know like lederhosen). Then I had him identify the beginning sound of each one and find the matching letter. For some added ambiance we listened to polka music as we worked.
Math: Italy- Pizza counting: First we read the book “Pizza in Piazza” and talked about the origins of pizza. Then I gave my littles a brown circle (crust) and several “pizza” toppings. I had them “make a pizza” by gluing the toppings to the crust. Then, my preschooler counted each type of topping and found the coordinating number on a set of flashcards. (I helped my toddler count his toppings.) To finish, I had my little count ALL the toppings he used then make the number by finding the tens and ones digits on his flashcard set.
Social Studies/Science: France- Eiffel tower block building: I read the story “Madeline” to the boys then showed them the Eiffel tower in the book and on my phone. Then I gave them the challenge to build the Eiffel tower with blocks or Legos.
Art: Greece- Ship mosaic art: I printed an ancient Greek ship picture (like the kind they painted on pottery) and had my littles use do-a-dot markers to make a mosaic style background (water and sky). Then I cut out the ship and had my little glue it on the background he made (my preschooler did his own cutting!) This example picture is my preschooler’s- my toddler’s background was basically all yellow/orange and included scribbling with the dot marker because…toddlers. He still enjoyed making it though! I got this idea from Art With Katie.
Food: Greece- Chicken Souvlaki: We live near a Greek community so usually if we want authentic Greek food we just pop by one of the the local restaurants and order some or get it to go, but last week in search of something fun and new to cook for dinner, I decided to try my hand at making my own Greek dish- chicken souvlaki- and it turned out GREAT! The website also has recipes for homemade pita bread and tzatziki sauce that are super easy to whip up to go along with the chicken. To serve, I put the chicken in the pitas and added copious amounts of the tzatziki sauce to the top (it’s SO GOOD- though I would probably leave out the garlic if I were to make it again because it was a tad too spicy for my littles). Opa!
United Kingdom- Full English breakfast: I made this for dinner a few weeks ago and it’s SO GOOD! I would never think to fry up tomatoes and mushrooms for breakfast (or in this case breakfast for dinner!) but they were so yummy! It was a hit with the whole family!
Italy- Pizza with homemade crust: Does anyone else have kids who LOVE pizza? Make it special by making homemade crust and topping it by hand.
- world map
- real and fake maple syrup
- ABC magnets
- soccer ball
- butcher paper/roll of easel paper
- popsicle sticks
- pom poms
- do-a-dot marker
- book “Pizza in Piazza”
- book “Curious George Makes Maple Syrup”