Wednesday, May 4, 2011

5 ways to get kids interested in the world and travel

I think most kids are naturally curious about the world and interested in traveling, whether it's a trip to a campsite in the forest, a big city on the other side of the country, or a beach on another continent. It's great to encourage and feed that curiosity, any way you can. For example:

Inflatable Earth Globe Beach Ball 16" DiameterReplogle Globes Traveler Globe, 12-Inch, Blue
 1. Spin a globe
The internet is great for lots of things, but sometimes hands-on items are more powerful for kids. A spinning globe showing the Earth in all its 3-D glory, where all the oceans and continents and countries are. and how you get from place to place, can spark any child's imagination. I still remember the rather small and worn globe my grandparents had, and how I'd spin it and see where my finger landed, imagining that one day I'd go there.

WORLD MAP kids geography EDUCATIONAL poster ART NEWTIME For Kids World Atlas

2. Look at a map
My favorite kind of map is a great, big wall-map. The kind where you can really see the details of a country or continent. Trace out the route you will travel, show the kids the roads, the towns, the rivers and lakes that you will see on your trip (either from a car window or from thousands of feet in the air). A world atlas in book format is good too: kids can hold it, read it in bed, turn the pages, and dream about nearby or far-away places to visit.

Pippi Longstocking (Puffin Modern Classics)The Girl Who Married a Lion: and Other Tales from AfricaHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

3. Read a good book
Reading a book set in another country can really spark a child's interest in the world. Harry Potter's Britain, Pippi Longstocking's Sweden, fairytales from India, Australia or Africa... There is a wealth of books and stories that can make children think about other parts of the world and how people live there.

National Geographic - Lewis & Clark - Great Journey WestDisney Nature Earth [Blu-ray]Spirited Away

4. Watch a good movie
Just like books, movies can make children interested in other countries and cultures. Some kids really go for the non-fiction stuff, while others are more inspired by made-up stories. There's a lot to choose from: The Lion King (the African savannah),  101 Dalmatians (London, England), Pixar's  Finding Nemo (the ocean, and Australia), Toot and Puddle's adventures all over the world, Japanese animation like Spirited Away and Princess Mononoke, Kung Fu Panda (China)... Not to mention all the different documentaries you can find about animals, history, buildings, and archeology.

The 2nd International Cookbook for KidsAround The World Cookbook

5. Cook and eat some great food
Cook and eat foreign food with your kids: make lasagna and talk about Italy, make some Japanese noodle soups, some Mexican enchiladas, or an Australian pavlova dessert... Cook together with your kids, if they're old enough, or get some takeout and get out that map or globe before or after the meal: where did these dishes first come from? Where in the world do people eat noodles? Where does kiwi fruit come from originally? Explore, eat, talk, and dream together. Just thinking about makes me hungry for both food, and travel!

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