Learn how former teacher, Kristen, developed a global curriculum for her kids that helped them explore the world and avoid the dreaded summer slump with a program they called Around the World In A Summer.
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Have you been wanting to expand beyond what your children learn in school? Maybe you want for them to have an appreciation for what they have here and for what other people are going through. Perhaps you want to help your kids keep up on their academic skills during the summer.
If this sounds like you, you can help your children explore the world with a program for global curriculum at home. Since not everyone has the ability or finances to travel, it is important to not allow opportunities to pass us by.
As a former teacher, Kristen used her passion for learning and curriculum development. As a parent, she needed to “entertain” her kids during the summer months.
After thinking for a few weeks about fun ways she could help keep her little kids’ minds sharp and protect them from the summer slump, she came up with an idea her kids jumped all over—studying about a different county each week.
More great tips in the podcast interview with Mireille about Connecting Food and Global learning.
Her kids each selected 4 countries, for a total of 8, and then they made a schedule. They picked countries that they were desperate to visit. Then as they covered more countries they moved on to choose less well known countries to explore.
Each day they planned to spend no more than one hour “learning,” with the exception of the day they cooked together or when they would get really involved in an art or science project.
Before COVID, they would start their exploration with a trip to the library to gather books, research and to get books for weekly reading for fun. They would also do online research as well.
Kristen’s example for a weekly outline
- Focus on looking up the country in our atlas and on the globe.
- Complete a mapping activity and draw/paint the country’s flag.
- Filled out a basic worksheet (she made her own) highlighting facts about each country–population, language(s), natural resources, style of government, capital city, landscape, find it on a map
- Learn about a child their age from the country we were studying–there was an old site that shared what an average day in the child looked like.
- What do they do for education, what do sports look like, what do they do for extracurricular
- This day was the most eye-opening day for my children. It was a wonderful way to learn about how fortunate we are in this country. We oftentimes tied this into learning about missionaries in the particular country and prayed for the needs of the people in the country.
- Study the food from the country and natural resources that were available to the people of that country. We would then plan what our authentic feast would be together for later that week, giving me time to get any necessary ingredients.
- What dishes are popular, what are they known for, and choose a few things to make together.
- Order candy bars from different countries off of Amazon (or try Universal Yums).
- Look up artists that were popular and recreate some of their artwork or take a virtual tour of a museum.
- Hands-on artwork or scientific experiments that related to our topic. For example, when we studied France, we did art, when we studied Italy we did a volcano experiment after we learned about Pompeii.
- If nothing popped out, they made a poster or wrote a short paper on the country, highlighting interesting facts.
- Watch a video or movie, like watching Aladdin when studying the middle east, and talk about what maybe was similar but what wasn’t accurate.
- Wrap up any fun activities we had planned, watch a short video from the library on the country
- And finally, we prepared our feast inspired by the country’s cuisine.
Remember that you don’t have to do anything crazy. Keep it simple and keep it fun!
You can also order food from a local restaurant, visit an ethnic grocery store, or scour the ethnic section at the grocery store. World Market often has snacks and drinks from other countries so you don’t even have to make a full authentic meal.
Some tips for sourcing information online
You have to do the research first to know what kinds of foods they would have eaten with what resources were available. To find good recipes, you can do a general search on a particular country or region’s cuisine. See if the person who shared the recipe is actually from that country or that culture. Once you find a particular dish you can do a specific search for recipes to make that dish.
If you can make it to a library they often have cookbooks focusing on specific regions foods that are better resources. You can also look for bloggers who specialize in their culture’s food.
Some search terms that can help are: authentic, traditional, or recipes from XYZ country.
Benefits of global learning at home
This Around the World in a summer concept helped her kids learn valuable research skills and how to put information together. They were also able to develop skills in geography and social studies, writing and grammatical skills, spelling and typing, etc.
Also, if kids are really picky eaters, this can be a good process to help encourage them to try something new. When they understand the background and the history of the food they are more open to try it. If the expectations are that they don’t have to like it, then they feel less pressure to like it, so they can go ahead and try it.
This kind of approach works whether you choose to homeschool, as a method to avoid the dreaded summer slump, or as a way to connect with your own heritage. Although they might not remember anything in particular that they did it can shape them as human beings and help them overall as students.
Thank you for joining me on this journey! Happy exploring!
Other episodes you may like
- 04: Life as a global nomad
- 08: Exploring Hawaiian culture
- 07: Celebrating Day of the Dead
- 26: Making A Plan For Summer Learning
Listen to this episode
Show notes links
Kristen is a former teacher, mom of 2 and a Cystic Fibrosis warrior. She runs the blog A Mindfull Mom where she shares simple, wholesome recipes made with real foods for real families on real budgets.
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