I confess I’m a little obsessive about grooming my kids to be good global citizens.
We sing along to world music on the morning drive to school. We have an international dinner night on the weekly roster (Japan night is a particular favorite as they get to slurp and burp their miso soup according to polite customs there). The dress-up trunk contains costumes from all over the world and assorted dolls, puzzles and toys reflect a multicultural theme. There’s at least one globe in every room in our house (okay, maybe not the bathrooms, but if they made map-print toilet paper I’d be all over it). We often peruse a children’s atlas for bedtime story – my youngest could point out places like Azerbaijan and Eritrea at age three (can you?). The shelves are teeming with children’s books about foreign lands and the girls soak up stories about my own travels.
I may be a little over the top about this, but my family is planning a round-the-world trip a few years down the road and I really want to instill some global curiosity and awareness in the girls in preparation for this adventure. So far it seems to be working. Their interest in the people, languages, animals, music, food and history of the world is genuine and questions they come up with keep me on my toes (and fingers – what did people do before the internet?).
That being said, time, budgets and temperaments prevent us from traveling as far and as wide as we’d like to at this young stage in their lives. So, sometimes we have to make do with a little armchair traveling instead.
Now, our kids aren’t big television watchers by nature, but it has its strategic time and place in our household (no debates, please). Luckily, lots of preschooler programs these days seem to touch upon international themes, which helps me justify a half hour in front of the tube as “educational”.
This week alone, Diego visited the Galapagos Islands and the Wonder Pets toured China – two locations on our upcoming globe-trotting itinerary. Bindi the Jungle Girl is another one of our favorites, having taught us heaps about biodiversity in Australia and beyond.
We can’t wait to see the new animated Toot and Puddle show debuting this November on Noggin. The pair of pig pals from the popular book series will be taking trips to such assorted locales as Mallorca, India, Paris, Tokyo and the Bavarian Alps.
On the DVD front, I recommend the new Global Wonders Around the World, about a worldly gang of cartoon kids who spend a day at the park sharing aspects of their culture, music, languages and lifestyle, including Ireland, Spain and Japan. Other titles in the series focus on Mexico, India and African-American culture, plus episodes on China, Italy and America are in the works for 2009. It’s “edutainment” well done.
We used to enjoy Mickey’s Seeing the World: Mickey’s Around the World in 80 Days, which introduces some international geography and languages to young children – they learned to say hello and goodbye in French, Italian, Egyptian etc. If you can stomach the purple dinosaur, Barney: Celebrating Around the World takes kids on a festive journey through Brazil, Ireland, Japan, Kenya and India. Of course my four and five year olds are much too mature for these two programs nowadays, but two and three year olds might get a kick out of them.
My favorite DVD series in this niche is The Little Travelers, live action programs that explore various destinations of the world (Japan, Bali and the British Isles – so far) through the eyes of the creator’s young daughters. Angela Hart and I seem to have lived parallel lives as I have called both Japan and the British Isles home plus have explored Bali on multiple occasions – all before I morphed into a mom, mind you, but they’re all places that I plan to revisit with my kids.
These DVDs capture the delight and wonder of travel from children’s unique perspectives – what captures their attention isn’t always what parents or educators think!
So what globally-minded programs do your kids enjoy?
Great collection! I think you are on the right track.
How about some great videos from a young one already traveling the world for three years?
We did lots of books, music,classes and some choice dvd’s to prepare for our open ended world tour and so glad that we did! It has made a huge difference.
Check out all of our 26 of free videos on world travel on our youtube channel:http://www.youtube.com/user/soultravelers3
Better yet, be a subscriber as we have more coming.
Many schools and home school families also use our website as a way to add to teaching kids about travel.
Some how kids can relate more to various places when they see another child they like enjoying things there!
On UK Sky TV there are great shows about travel for kids with a bunny named Felix which is also a kid’s book series. “Postcards from Buster” used to be similar in the States.