I’ve been wanting to share with you guys about Around the World Stories for a long time. Around the World Stories are created by an amazing world-traveling family that then takes their experiences and creates stories that my kids completely devour. But more on that later…
Here’s the thing with studying world cultures: it’s not about a “lesson” for me. Knowing more about other cultures, to me, means knowing more about the world we live in.
When we lived in North Carolina, my two best friends also lived down the street from me. (How lucky was I, right!?) One friend was born and raised in the mountains of NC, which was a whole new world to this South Dakota girl. The other mama friend was from Germany and had lived there until the year before. She had married a soldier in the U.S. Army and they were stationed in Asheville for three years. (They’re now living in South Korea–during the Olympics, no less!!) Having Karina down the street from me was such a blessing. 1) She was an amazing friend and 2) she shared so much about her life in Germany with our family!
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Both of these friends shared food they grew up making with their grandmothers–or Meemaws and Omas.
They taught us traditions and special events, like Friday night Drum Circles downtown or Oktoberfest.
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Miranda and Karina taught us the lingo, like buggies (shopping carts) and shatzee (like “sweetheart” or “my treasure” in German).
Being close with amazing people from other places than I was used to opened my eyes to whole new worlds–and to my kids as well. These are “lessons” that can’t be taught in school–it’s just life and being open to new and different things.
And that is why I love Around the World Stories–it opens doors into different cultures and those stories paired with life experiences makes for all sorts of gorgeous dots being connected.
Explore World Cultures Together
Exploring world cultures together doesn’t mean opening a textbook, it means getting out INTO the world! There’s so many ways you can explore together. Here’s a few ways we’ve found to do this really well as a family:
- Eating out at authentic ethnic restaurants
- Engaging in conversations with people you meet from around the world or those who’ve immigrated here
- Field tripping to your local global market, like Chinatown or a local Latino or Asian market
- Read fables and folktales from other countries–we love these! We’re currently loving A Year Full of Stories.
- Travel! Even if you’re not traveling internationally, you will meet so many different people on your travels. Go to Mount Rushmore, for example and count how many different languages you hear at this national monument!
Around the World Stories: What it’s all about
Back to Around the World Stories, a resource that can open a whole new world to your family. But what is it and what’s it all about?
Around the World Stories is a monthly subscription that gives you original, high-quality stories right to your inbox for only $9.95 per month. You receive a story each week about a child in one country for four consecutive weeks. My kids especially love this part because kids are kids no matter where they’re from and they love hearing about how kids live in other countries.
The stories are original–you won’t hear them anywhere else. And you have lots of options for listening. Stream them from any device you have via the internet or or you have the option of downloading them to your computer and listening without having to have Wi-Fi.
Around the World Stories currently offers 52 stories from Europe, a story pack on Artists from Around the World, and a brand new Asian story pack!
There is also the option of purchasing the entire 52-pack of European stories, for just $99. That’s just $1.90/story!
Also, since the Asian Stories is brand new, you can purchase the subscription to these stories and get the first month free (until March 2nd, 2018) and receive one story from Asian each week for 52 weeks. (And that’s only a little over $2/story! Way less then a latte at Starbucks.)
The stories from Asia have just been released so we haven’t started on those yet, but we have already learned so much about life in:
- The Netherlands
- and Germany
We are saving the stories from Ireland for March and Saint Patrick’s Day and the stories from Poland for around Easter time as they talk about Polish Easter traditions.
We loved making Pysanky a couple of years ago–a Ukranian tradition. Here’s some videos we made on that…
What you receive with Around the World Stories
This is maybe my favorite part about Around the World Stories…the resources you receive with each story. Each story comes with a parent’s guide.
The guide includes some or all of the following, depending on the story:
- Discussion questions about the child in the story and his or her life in their home country.
- Interesting discussion ideas on how to compare and contrast the featured child’s life to your own child’s life.
- Narration questions to use however you choose.
- A few common words from the country’s main language.
- Printable like crossword puzzles and coloring sheets–a great ‘keep hands busy’ activity while kids listen to the stories.
- Historical facts about the country.
- Native recipes–we loved trying The Netherlands’ special treat of having hagelslag (sprinkles) on our buttered toast one morning.
- Crafts + extra videos
- LOTS of interesting facts about the featured country. (I love this bit!) Did you know the day after Easter Sunday is known as Śmigus-Dyngus (Wet Monday)? On this day it’s tradition for boys to throw a bucket of water over girls. What?? Sounds awful to me, but interesting fact to have in my hat. Also, did you know there’s about 1.5 million Polish people living in Chicago?
There’s all sorts of other little tidbits from the featured country that we love learning about. Like this one:
There is a word in Dutch that has no English equivalent — “GEZELLIGHEID”. The best description is “a nice atmosphere and a feeling of relaxation when spending time together with people who are close to you.” Gezelligheid is important for the Dutch people.
How great is that!? Don’t you think we could all use a little more GEZELLIGHEID in our day? I think we could.
The best part is all these facts, recipes, crafts, and bonus material are tied into the story somehow! So when your child listens to the story after you’ve done the activities, they will make that connection! Or if they do the activity after the story, they’ll make the connection then as well!
LOVE that part–the connecting of the dots!
How you can use Around the World Stories
Around the World Stories is the perfect tool to add in just about anywhere. Here’s some ideas…
- Turn one on during lunch for the quietest lunch you’ve ever had. Bonus points for adding in a recipe for lunch from the country.
- Same with the car–turn one on for a silent commute to piano lessons.
- Listen during the Olympics! So many connects to be made there!
- Use these stories when you’re tired from being up late with the baby (or watching the Olympics–ahem). Your kids will be learning so much and you’ll be quietly caffinating on the couch with them. Win, win!
- Add in your Pin-It Maps for some amazingly good hands-on learning with each story! Locate the country from the story, the capital, the land forms sometimes pointed out in the story, etc. SO great for parents AND kids!
- Use the book Give Your Child the World in addition to Around the World Stories to find tons of wonderful books to check out from the library about the country you’re studying.
- Play Flag Frenzy or do a GeoToy puzzle
I just bought this book, This is How We Do It, and it’s SO great and ties in perfectly with Around the World Stories. The book follows 7 different kids from 7 different countries through their day–what they eat, how they get to school, how they dress–it is SO interesting and we’ve read it so many times, I know it’s going to be one of those all-family favorites.
Discover Around the World Stories in your favorite way
You can follow Around the World Stories in your favorite way around the interwebs. They have a fabulous blog where they share about their travels and what they discover as they see the world. This adds a whole new awesome layer to the stories as we listen. We can then go find blog posts about the story we’ve just listened to.
You’ll also want to sign up for their newsletter for the latest updates on their company!
Around the World Stories has blessed our family and here’s why: with such a widespread array of ages in our family, it’s sometimes hard to find things we can all enjoy. Vera (4) is left out because she doesn’t yet have the skills to do what the big kids can do OR Noah (almost 16) is bored because he’s already done it or he’s beyond it. Now, while these stories are a bit young for Noah, we can turn one on during mealtime and each and every one of my kids is engaged. They’re all laughing by the end or asking great questions or making wonderful insights.
Vera blew us away the other night at dinner when my husband announced he’d read about a new “Cat Cafe” coming to our city. As he explained what it would be like, our cat-lady Vera perked up.
“That sounds JUST LIKE the CATS OF LISBON!!!!”
Yes, the Cats of Lisbon is an Around the World Story from Portugal. What!?! Girlfriend is just four-years-old and she’s already learning about Portugal! Amazing.
We are hooked. And I hope you’ll try them too. Try it for a month (you can cancel at any time)…you might just find your new favorite way to learn about world cultures too.