How do you teach your kids about the world when it is such a huge place? It’s a topic that is so big it easily becomes overwhelming. And unlike teaching maths or a language, there is no logical path to take. This is also brilliant because you don’t have to worry about missing steps along the way, you really can wing it and make it up as you go along!

I’ll share some of the ideas that we used when my son was little, that make it both educational and fun.

Supplies to teach your kids about the world

Passport, plane tickets, suitcase…

Yes, lovely if you can afford that route and a lot of families are making it work by educating their kids on the road, but it’s not for everyone.

So what do you need at home? These are the ones I think of as non-negotiables.

That’s it. Anything else you add is a bonus. Obviously, there are a tonne of books out there, I have country-specific books listed on the 193 Little Adventures Blog. You don’t need to buy them, a trip to the library should have several books for you to go at.

What kind of books are helpful when you teach your kids about the world?

Absolutely anything with pictures in it. Remember that your child’s view of the world is minuscule purely because they haven’t had the experience that an adult has. And when they are young, the concept of the world itself is a difficult one for them to even conceive. Which is why it’s helpful to have a globe. But also books with pictures so they can see what the places are like.

Country-specific books are great if you are learning about a specific place, these could be:

  • Travel/guidebooks
  • Stories written about a local author
  • Stories written about visiting that country
  • Magazines such as National Geographic, Travel Magazine or Wanderlust
  • Recipe books that are country-specific
  • Books that focus on a famous person, historical event or landmark

Teach your kids about the world by following the child

Follow the child is a Montessori concept which in a nutshell means that you follow the child’s lead. Now this is difficult when they don’t know much about anything outside their immediate environment. But say your child is a bit of a train fanatic, you could show them trains from around the world. A child who loves steam trains might not have any interest in the delicacy of Japanese sushi or the art of being a geisha. But their mind will be blown when you introduce them to the Shinkansen bullet train!

Using food to teach about other cultures

Food is a great way to teach children about the world. And you can make it as simple or as complicated as you like. The simplest way is to buy snacks from the country that you are studying, or you could go all in and eat traditional recipes from that country for the whole day.

Food makes a great conversation point, from the type of recipe used, the spices and seasonings to use in the dishes, to the way things are cooked and how meals are served. In some cultures sitting on the floor sharing a big dish is the way to go. In others having everything on your own individual plate and using a knife and fork is the norm.

Food is also often linked to religion and so it influences the way people eat and what they eat. These are all great things to talk about with your kids, which broaden their horizons, without even opening a textbook.

We always include a recipe in the 193 Little Adventure Packs because it is such an important part of each culture.

Pop Culture can be a great way to introduce your child to new countries

The world is a lot smaller these days which means a viral sensation can hit a screen in a matter of hours. The language learning app, Duolingo, wrote recently about how pop culture increases the number of students to certain languages. For example, when Squid Game, the Netflix hit, became popular Duolingo had a huge increase in people signing up to learn Korean. In a similar fashion, Japanese is a popular language to learn because it creates great manga and animation and many people want to read it or watch it and its original form.

If your child is interested in some kind of pop culture from a different country, you can use that as the diving board to go deeper into learning about that place.

Rosario, Messi’s birth town

Using famous people, celebrities and sports heroes

If your child has a famous celebrity crush or a sports hero, you can use those as the starting point to learn about their home country. Let’s take the football player Lionel Messi, he was born in Argentina. If your football-crazy child loves Messi then you could start by asking leading questions such as

  • I wonder what Messi ate for breakfast as a child.
  • I wonder what Messi’s hometown looks like.
  • Do you think Messi had the same kind of school lunch as you?

From that, you can start researching together. You might be able to find documentaries or interviews that answer the questions. Try out a Messi-type breakfast or check out his hometown on Google Earth.

Encourage your child to ask questions too, and as you research, make a note of the answers. If your child is up for it, you can create a book about the person or place.

My son went through a pirate stage, and for some reason got fixated on Barbados. A friend sent a swap package with some Barbados goodies. And this is how the original idea behind 193 Little Adventures started. He was five at the time so it was a pretty simple book but her drew pictures of pigs in the sea, and a map, we tried a local recipe, and he stuck in photos that we got from old magazines and travel brochures. We also had to talk like pirates!

Use trivia as a starting point for learning

I admit, I love trivia facts! I love how a seemingly random fact can send me down a rabbit hole of learning. We want our kids to have a growth mindset, to be asking questions and thinking about the bigger picture. Trivia is brilliant for that.

I post a trivia quiz in my stories every day on Instagram (follow me here) which I know lots of people check each day. And they are fun to ask your kids, either as a quiz question or as a “Did you know” statement.

Wrap Up

It’s easy to forget that kids don’t know, what they don’t know. So even if they appear not to have any interest in anything outside their little world, sometimes you need to introduce them to it. But it doesn’t have to be as extreme as a round-the-world trip or forcing geography lessons on them. It can be tiny tidbits of information that get them thinking and asking questions.

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