Hopping a plane with 3, 4, 5+ kids to travel the world is a big financial commitment. Sure, we’d all love to do this, but taking a physical and literal trip around the world might not be feasible. But that doesn’t mean you can’t see the world with your kids. Set aside a week or so for a country, and plan a simple world culture unit study. You’ll be on your way in no time.
My kids have never been to the Netherlands, but they know about the tulip season, the Puritans fleeing to Amsterdam, and what kids there eat for breakfast.
We’ve never taken our kids to Germany, but they know about Oktoberfest, how to speak many German phrases, and they know the difference between a really good schnitzel and a not-so-great schnitzel.
They’ve never been to Mexico, but they understand what Day of the Dead means, they’ve learned respect for ancestors through Mexican traditions, and they know what a really good tamale tastes like.
You get the idea. My kids don’t have a passport but they’ve certainly experienced world cultures. And here’s how you can plan a simple world cultures unit study and see the world too.
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Why a world cultures unit study is important
When we don’t understand other cultures, our tendency is to be nervous or stand-offish. Creating an interest in other cultures can open up an entire new world for your kids! (No pun intended.)
Show your kids that there are homeschool families just like yours traveling the world together. Families like the Landins who have sold almost all their belongings to travel around the world with their family! This experience has shown their kids compassion towards others that are different from themselves, new foods and traditions, and so much more.
I love what the Landins are doing along their journey. They are creating stories about kids in the countries they visit–SO COOL! My kids are obsessed with these!
World cultures unit study: experience all the senses
When I plan a unit study, I like to make sure we’re covering each of our senses for a long-lasting memory for all of us. Here’s some ideas of what I mean. After you choose a country or continent to study, add ideas for all the senses:
TASTE: Cook foods from that country–create a whole week’s menu around it! Or do one big, amazing meal featuring foods and desserts from your chosen country.
SIGHT: Choose one or two amazing movies that feature your chosen country.
HEARING: Grab loads of books, audio books (like the Landin’s Around the World Stories!!), and music from your country.
TOUCH: Create hands-on projects or art based on your country. Study the art that is common in your chosen country and try to create some similar in your own home. Do pottery, paint, make a model home, whatever makes a mess is probably a good choice! 🙂
SMELL: Find essential oils, flowers, plants, or spices that are native to your chosen country. This is SUCH a fun way to learn!
Gather the goods
There are so many amazing resources out there to get your kids learning about world cultures. Based on teaching with the senses, here’s some resources you could gather to pull off an amazing unit study!
COOKING!: I love cooking with my kids and there’s some wonderful cookbooks out there that will help you find authentic recipes from around the world. Here’s a few of our choices:
FILMS + TV:
- Curiosity Stream is a great option for loads of documentaries of all kinds. There’s plenty available for world cultures. You’ll find documentaries on China, Egypt, Holland, and Italy–just to name a few! Curiosity Stream is a streaming channel service you can access through your smart TV or computer. Over 1500 documentaries for just $2.99/month? You can’t lose!
- Netflix also has loads of documentaries available.
- Amazon Prime Video offers loads of great options too. I found some great ones on wildlife in Africa and Australia.
There are SO many great books to choose from about world cultures. As mentioned our very favorite choice for audio stories is Around the World Stories. You can download these or stream directly from your computer. We like to listen to them in the morning as we’re eating breakfast. It keeps things very quiet around here because the kids are intently listening!
Around the World Stories offers a huge series on Europe and Asia at this time. You can either choose the monthly plan for less than 10 bucks a month and receive one story per week for as long as you’d like your subscription to continue. OR you can purchase the entire set for even less at just $99 for 52 stories.
These stories come with loads of ideas for studying world cultures based on the stories. We love this part! We’ve made breakfast from the Netherlands, set our table with tulips, and made Irish Soda Bread. The possibilities are endless with these!
MORE BOOK OPTIONS:
We definitely have some favorite books that cover a multitude of countries and cultures. Here’s a few of our favorite titles.
Another of our very favorites is Beautiful Feet Books’ collection of Around the World stories. This is an amazing collection about Asia and would pair perfectly with Around the World Stories audio stories collection. Here’s a sample of what the curriculum looks like:
This is another great way to incorporate a sensory-rich unit study. We love Putuyamo Playground CDs and I’ve also found some great options on Amazon Music. Just search for “Music from China,” or “Music from Ireland,” and you’ll find lots of great options.
You can’t do a world cultures study without some great maps, right!?! I’ve found that interactive maps are best for my kids (and myself!) to really remember where countries are. These are our favorites:
- Pin-It Maps. SO so good, y’all. They are amazing and can be used so many ways. We love to clear all the pins off and see how many pins we can properly assign to their countries.
- World Maps by Homeschool in the Woods. These are so great because they can be printed over and over again. The download includes oodles of notebooking pages, maps, flags and more!
Get out there with your kiddos! Try some new authentic ethnic restaurants. Visit a museum like The American Swedish Institute we have here in Minneapolis.
One year we took our kids to a Pysanky Egg demonstration at the Russian Museum of Art here in Minneapolis. We got to visit with an elderly Ukrainian woman and it was amazing! Such a great learning experience!
Giving your kids a good taste of world cultures doesn’t have to cost a lot of money. You don’t even need to leave your house! Get curious with your kids and learn something new this week.
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