United Nations (UN) Day is celebrated every year on October 24, the same day as the founding of the eponymous international body. Chartered just a month after the end of World War II in 1945, the UN works to advance cooperation between nations.
Taking the opportunity to educate students about world peace and cultural diversity, schools usually celebrate UN Day through programs revolving around wearing national costumes of different countries. Parades and international fairs are also usual parts of school celebrations.
Learning about other countries in a fun way, however, need not be relegated to school activities in October. We can open the minds of our children and help them appreciate the bigger world on a regular basis. Here are some exciting ideas on how to incorporate exploring other countries as part of day-to-day family life.
There’s nothing like a big world map on the wall to remind your child about the vastness of the world. Every time a country is mentioned in a book, video and other materials that your child is perusing, ask him to look for it on the map. You can prepare stickers that he can put on each country every time he encounters one.
Jigsaw world map puzzles are also a great idea to be familiar with the world’s countries, continents and oceans.
Sustain initial interest in a country by researching more about it. Use picture books, websites, and documentary videos to learn interesting facts. You can also ask your child to keep a file on each country with his drawings, writings, and craft projects. Photos from the Internet will also make a good addition to the file.
This “world album” will be a nice scrapbook of the countries that your child has explored right in the comfort of your home. It makes a good reference material too for preparing for a trip to any of the countries in his file.
A wonderful way to learn about other countries is by watching live cultural performances. Call embassies or check their websites for their calendar of activities. You will most probably feel like you are being transported to another country when you participate in authentic cultural events.
Attending embassy functions that are open to the public is also a good way to hear foreign conversations spoken by native speakers.
While going to food festivals and specialty restaurants is great, it’s also nice to make and serve themed dinners at home. Get a kick out of researching and preparing food for Japanese, Korean, or Russian nights. Of course, you also have to eat like them (use chopsticks for Japanese dishes, for example).
The world’s recipes are right at our fingerprints. Websites not only feature step-by-step instructions, some also feature videos that you can easily watch, pause, and follow. So, commit to making one or two dishes per country and have your kids help out in whatever way they can.
Encourage pretend play in your children by providing costumes for dress up play. Other country’s dresses are wonderful additions to any costume box collection and will encourage children to have fun and learn at the same time.
Costumes need not be expensive or custom-made and national costumes should not be reserved for just school programs. Egyptian tunics can be fashioned out of lampin and Japanese kimonos can just be simple bathrobes.