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Different Countries and Cultures
Computers & Internet, Language Arts, Social Studies
8, 7, 6, 2, 3, 4, 5, 1
By – Kelly Radel
Students will learn about different cultures in fun and exciting ways in order to drive the learning experience.
Various books on different cultures
Various cultural cookbooks
Ideas for teaching about different Countries and Cultures:
- Pen Pals: Give the students the opportunity to learn firsthand about other cultures using pan pals. You can look at http://www.surfnetkids.com/resources/penpals/ to learn more about using pen pals.
- Cultural Books: Read picture books about different cultures and compare their cultures to your own. Students can write, journal, or discuss similarities and differences. Some books that might be useful are:
- Children from Australia to Zimbabwe: A Photographic Journey Around the World by Maya Ajmera, Anna Rhesa Versola, and Marian Wright Edelman
- Houses and Homes (Around the World Series) by Ann Morris, Ken Heyman (illustrator/ photographer)
- Children Just Like Me by Susan Elizabeth Copsey, Barnabas Kindersley, Anabel Kindersley, and Harry Belafonte
- Hands Around the World: 365 Creative Ways to Encourage Cultural Awareness and Global Respect (Williamson Kids Can! Series) by Susan Milord
- Celebrations Around the World: A Multicultural Handbook by Carole S. Angell
- Children Just Like Me: Celebrations! By Anabel Kindersley (contributor), Barnabas Kindersley (photographer)
- Cultural Foods: Explore culinary traditions from other countries and cultures. Have each student make a recipe from another culture and bring it to class to share. Discuss other culinary traditions and how they are similar or different to your own. A book that may help you with recipe ideas is The Kids’ Multicultural Cookbook: Food & Fun Around the World (Williamson Kids Can! Series) written by Deanna F. Cook and illustrated by Michael P. Kline.
- Decorating Traditions: Explore decorating traditions from other cultures and countries. These decorations can be made and used to decorate the classroom. Take the time to discuss which culture uses this tradition, for example how important origami is to people in Japan. (Some resources that may be helpful for craft ideas are The Kids’ Multicultural Art Book: Art & Craft Experiences from Around the World (Williamson Kids Can! Series) written by Alexandra M. Terzian or Kids Around the World Create!: The Best Crafts and Activities from Many Lands written by Arlette N. Braman and illustrated by Jo-Ellen Bosson.)
- Cultural Games: Explore entertainment and games from other cultures and countries. Take a look at The Multicultural Game Book (Grades 1-6) by Louise Orlando. Play some of the games from other cultures. Are they similar to any games that you are familiar with or are they completely new to you?
- Cultural Traditions: Explore the holidays and traditions celebrated by different countries and cultures. How are they different from those you celebrate? When are they celebrated? Are you familiar with this holiday or is it completely new to you?
- Some resources that may be helpful to you are Celebrations of Light: A Year of Holidays Around the World written by Nancy Luenn and illustrated by Mark Bender, or Kids around the World Celebrate!: The Best Feasts and Festivals from Many Lands (Kids Around the World Series) written by Lynda Jones and illustrated by Michele Nidenoff.
- Research Project: Children can research a particular country for a period of time. Each student should be given a large cardboard cutout of his or her country. Students can decorate their cardboard countries on the basis of their research of that country.
- For instance, a student researching Columbia might place coffee beans on their cardboard to represent where coffee is grown.
- On the day of the cardboard representations, the students can dress like someone from the country.
- You can display all the projects in the gym for the rest of the school to see them.
- Another idea is to have country shaped cookies and have the students decorate the cookies and have a cookie party.
- Cultural Customs: Did you know that in Argentina is it considered rude if you yawn? How about that in India if you shake your head slowly from side-to-side it means “yes” instead of “no”?
- Check out The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Cultural Etiquette for other gestures and customs that may be different from culture to culture.
- It may be fun to role-play using this information. Send one student outside of the classroom and as a class decide on a scenario.
- For example, in America, eye contact is a sign of respect however, Navajo Indians are taught that you show respect by avoiding eye contact. Have the student come back into the classroom, but have the rest of the students look down and not acknowledge him or her. After a few minutes, have the student comment on how he or she felt when the classmates would not look up. Then explain that although it felt like the class was being rude by not looking up, they were showing respect in the Navajo Culture.
- Family Heritage: Have students research their family heritage to see if their ancestors have come from other cultures and countries. Students may want to speak to their parents and grandparents about cultural traditions that they experienced. Discuss as a class what the students found.
- Cinderella in Different Cultures: be sure that the students are familiar with the story of Cinderella. Have small groups of students take a look at the following books, each are a different culture or country’s version of the story of Cinderella:
- The Turkey Girl: A Zuni Cinderella written by Penny Pollock and illustrated by Ed Young.
- The Way Meat Loves Salt: A Cinderella Tale from the Jewish Tradition written by Nina Jaffe and illustrated by Louise August.
- Yeh-Shen: A Cinderella Story from China written by Ai-Ling Louie and illustrated by Ed Young.
- Smoky Mountain Rose: An Appalachian Cinderella written by Alan Schroeder and illustrated by Brad Sneed.
- The Persian Cinderella written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Robert Florczak.
- Sootface: An Ojibwa Cinderella Story told by Robert D. San Souci and illustrated by Daniel San Souci.
- The Egyptian Cinderella written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller.
- The Golden Sandal: A Middle Eastern Cinderella Story written by Rebecca Hickox and illustrated by Will Hillenbrand.
- The Irish Cinderlad written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Loretta Krupinski.
- The Korean Cinderella written by Shirley Climo and illustrated by Ruth Heller.
E-Mail: Kelly Radel