As a foreign language teacher, I think that there is great value in learning about other cultures. Learning about other cultures helps us learn about ourselves, increases awareness of new traditions, and help us form a more cooperative outlook. One of the best ways to learn about new places is by actually going there. We were fortunate enough to travel to Copenhagen and Berlin as a family a year ago. However, for many families, this can be outside of a realistic budget. Here are some ways I bring the travel experience to my students and kids when I can’t actually get to a new place.
- Virtual field trips. Many cities around the world have webcams and livestreams that can show kids what a place looks like right at that moment. Google Maps and Google Earth can provide pictures of different places around the world, and Google Earth even has many different places linked to give your kids a photo tour and information about destinations around the globe.
- Theme weeks. Pick a country and get a book from the library or search for information. Try to incorporate several new foods from that country for family dinners. If your kids aren’t very adventurous, then look into ordering sweets – many different websites (or, in larger communities, international markets) offer treats from other countries, and trying out dessert and candy can be a non-threatening way to explore new flavors. Listen to music, learn a dance, or play a game from the chosen country as well.
- Embassies. Embassies typically have their own websites with information about the country and tourist attractions. Some will even send information when asked. It’s a good way to get official, reputable information about the country.
We’ve been doing countries with our kids this fall and winter and it’s been a blast. So far we’ve learned about Egypt (date cookies were not a hit), Brazil (peanut candy was), France (they loved the French cheese and bread), and several other countries, trying out art styles, music, games, and more. It’s a good way to beat cabin fever!