Let’s Talk… Integrating Culture in the New Year
You can find ideas for winter activities for children in almost any early childhood resource and especially online. Type “winter activities for kids” in the search engine of Pinterest and you’ll get an endless list of creative ideas. Providing fun, engaging activities and materials helps children stay busy and active during the cold winter months, but this time of year is also a great time to talk about culture.
I often hear providers say that there aren’t any diverse families in their programs, but that’s not true. Each family has its own culture: the size and make-up, traditions and times they celebrate, meals or favorite recipes, music they listen to, leisure activities they enjoy, etc. Just because people may have a similar physical appearance, speak the same language, follow the same religion, and/or are from the same place doesn’t mean they can’t be very different.
Because most children spend the holidays with family, January is a great time to discuss families, what is special about them, and how they are alike and different. These types of discussions provide a base for understanding and respecting diversity.
Ideas for integrating each family’s culture into your program
- Create a cookbook using 1-2 favorite recipes from each family
- Allow children to take turns bringing in their family’s favorite music and play the music during the day
- Encourage children to bring pictures of their immediate family, pets, and extended family
- Place a large map on a wall and allow families to mark the states and cities where their family members live
- Have children bring a picture of them and their family participating in their favorite activity-camping, cooking, kayaking, playing with the dog, etc.
- Read children’s books geared toward diversity topics (Todd Parr has several really good ones.)
Another great opportunity for exploring culture takes place in February; the Lunar, or Chinese New Year, is on February 9th. Moonbeams, Dumplings, and Dragon Boats: A Treasure of Chinese Holiday Tales, Activities, and Recipes by Nina Simonds is a great resource for provider’s interested in incorporating the Chinese New Year. Children have a great time learning about the various cultures of people who celebrate the Lunar New Year and enjoy the opportunity to celebrate New Year’s twice! For more ideas of holidays to celebrate throughout 2015 check out kidworldcitizen.org.