Entertaining and Educational Ways to Learn About Different Cultures

6 min to read
A family celebrating a Chinese holiday.

Kids have a natural curiosity about the world around them and the people in it. With technology making the world a more connected place, helping kids become good global citizens starts by learning about different cultures and celebrating people from different backgrounds.

The summer months are the perfect time to learn about another culture! Along with traditional summer activities like pool parties, picnics, and barbeques, create memories with your kids this summer with fun ways to learn about different cultures. Hint: learning new cultures is also educational and can help kids avoid summer slide.  

Learning different cultures can be done by exploring the arts, trying new cuisines, reading stories about kids from other cultures, and attending cultural events in your area. Here are 11 entertaining and educational ideas for how to learn about other cultures this summer.

1. Try a Restaurant that Specializes in Food from Another Culture

Every culture has their own unique food and specialty dishes that typically include the ingredients that are local to that culture’s geographical area. Dining at an authentic restaurant can help your child explore new foods and learn about the region where that culture originates. 

See if there are any Thai, Lebanese, Indian, Greek, French, Spanish, or other restaurants in your area that you’ve never been to. Find a copy of their menu online and talk about it with your child. Explore which dishes you’d like to try and research their ingredients and origins.

If your child is more comfortable sticking to familiar foods, visit restaurants that are more common in America, such as Italian, Mexican, or Chinese restaurants. Order your child’s favorite dish, and research if that dish has been “Americanized” to fit the American palette. Talk to your child about what that means and explore the differences between Americanized dishes and authentic dishes. 

2. Prepare Foods from Other Countries at Home

Cooking a meal is a fun activity that is also a great way to learn about other cultures. Spend some time researching different recipes from other cultures. When you find recipes that you want to try, cook the dishes for a family meal and follow that country’s dining traditions. 

Visit specialty grocery stores to find the ingredients if your regular store doesn’t carry them. Learn when the meal is traditionally served and how it is eaten (with chopsticks, using their hands, etc.). 

If you have a favorite recipe that has been Americanized, make the real thing and compare the two. 

3. Immerse Your Child in Geography

The better your child’s knowledge of geography, the better they will understand their place in this world. Get a globe or look at one online and talk about all the different countries and continents. Pick one country a week to learn about. Do they have mountains or deserts? Do they border the ocean? How does the physical environment of the country affect the culture of the people that live there? 

Craft projects are a great way to help younger kids increase their global awareness, and popular board games can teach children of all ages about the world.

4. Take a Virtual Field Trip

Visiting the Taj Mahal, Tower of London, or the Great Wall of China is within reach in today’s digital world. Iconic sites from different countries are part of the history of the people that live there, a history that is built into their culture. Taking a virtual field trip to places that different people hold special is another fun way to learn about different cultures. 

5. Take a Walk in Someone Else’s Shoes

Make a list of the things you usually do every day—where you go, what you eat, who you see. Next, open a map or spin a globe and point at it without looking. After your finger lands on a country, make a list of the things you would do during the day if you lived there. If you do this as a family, share your experiences.

You can also take a tour of kids’ homes around the world and walk in their shoes to explore what it might be like to live in different types of houses.

6. Read a Book About Different Cultures

It’s important for kids to spend time reading over the long summer months. There are many great books for elementary students and tweens and teens that are written about kids from other cultures. Your child can immerse themselves in stories about people from different backgrounds, giving them a deeper understanding of what it’s like to live in a different country or be from another culture. 

7. Practice Foreign Language Skills

Even if your child hasn’t started taking any foreign language courses during the regular school year, you can still get familiar with different languages by labeling objects around the house with their foreign names. For example, if you wanted to learn French, you could label the following items in your bedroom:

  • Alarm clock = Le reveil
  • Blanket = La couverture
  • Pillow = Le cousin
  • Chair = La chaise
  • Poster = La affiche

You can use tape, sticky notes, or strips of paper as labels, but feel free to be more creative. When your child masters one list of objects, keep going with other things in the house, or take a walk through your neighborhood and start practicing things you see in nature, like trees, squirrels, or a creek. 

8. Watch a Movie in a Foreign Language

After you become familiar with some vocabulary words in another language, watch a movie where the actors speak that language. Try watching a scene without subtitles. Do you recognize any of the words? What do you think is happening? Rewatch the scene with the subtitles on to see how accurate your guesses were.

You can also watch an English-language movie you’re familiar with and turn on a different language track to see how it compares to the English version. You can also watch the movie in English and turn on foreign language subtitles to read the translation.

9. Attend a Cultural Event

Many cities host festivals that celebrate different cultures. Take your child to an event that celebrates people of different backgrounds. In addition to festivals, you could attend concerts or dance performances that focus on music and expression from other cultures. 

10. Experience Different Music or Dance

In addition to attending concerts or live performances, you could download music from different cultures or check out CDs from the library. You could also sign your child up for dance classes that focus on dance from different parts of the world, including flamenco (Spain), polka (Scandinavia), or the jig (Scotland or Ireland).

11. Learn About Your Heritage

Doing a little genealogical research allows you to explore your family’s background and the culture of your ancestors. In a notebook or on the computer, write down what you know about your ancestors. Which countries did they originally come from, and when? Call relatives who might have more information. Creating a family record is a pursuit you can work on for a long time, and you never know what you might discover!

Find more activities to keep your child learning and engaged all summer on Connections Academy’s Resource Hub

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