Ideas for Joyful Learning During School Closures: All Around the World

This week, the education team will take you on a world tour — exploring history, culture and geography from different corners of the globe to learn about the importance of respecting and valuing different cultures and communities.

At-Home Learning: PBS SoCal and KCET, in partnership with LAUSD and in collaboration with California PBS stations, are offering broadcast programming with digital resources that adhere to California’s state curriculum. Download this week’s schedule.

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While most of our recent “travel plans” have been confined to a walk around the block, that doesn’t mean you and your family can’t learn more about people and places outside your neighborhood. This week, the education team will take you on a world tour — exploring history, culture and geography from different corners of the globe. The past few months have shown just how interconnected we all are. It is the perfect time to teach your children the importance of respecting and valuing different cultures and communities. The world’s seven billion+ people have an infinite number of stories to share. We hope this week’s theme inspires you and your family to continue learning about experiences and cultures outside your own. 

Children hold a globe
Children hold a globe. | PBS.org

Discover more resources and crafts that help your children learn about the experiences of others in this blog featuring Children’s Activities to Foster Connection and Empathy.

Ideas for Early Learners (Pre-K–3rd grade)

CREATE

Make three kid-friendly rice dishes from around the world. Rice is a staple dish in many countries, but every culture prepares it with their own unique spin on spices and ingredients. Open up a discussion about what makes each of these dishes unique. How are they similar? Talk about how these dishes compare to the way you prepare rice at home. 

Create a Family Traditions Book using family photos. Talk about the special traditions your family has. Where did these traditions originate? 

Craving something sweet? Make Mexican No-Churn Ice Cream which has hints of coffee, cinnamon, ancho chile and vanilla. PBS Food has tons of recipes that you can sort by region. 

PLAY

Explore musical instruments from Egypt, Mexico and India with Carmen and Luna. Spin the magic globe to change the style of music and listen to the different sounds of instruments from around the world like the rababa, marimba and bansuri.

Play in concerts with instruments from around the world with Luna and her friends! | Still from Carmen’s World Orchestra/PBS KIDS

Cook dishes from around the world like Mole Chicken and Peking Duck in Chef Leo’s Crazy Kitchen.  

Grab your passports and take flight in your hot air balloon on Fabuloso’s Fantastic Flight. Explore countries like Russia, United Kingdom, India, Mexico and Australia. As you collect tickets from each destination, you’ll learn special facts about their capital cities. 

WATCH

Watch full episodes of “Let’s Go Luna” on PBS KIDS online. “Let’s Go Luna” helps kids explore places in the world that may be new to them and embrace new ideas and perspectives. 

READ

Muslims around the world are celebrating Eid al-Fitr on Sunday, May 24 — the joyous celebration that culminates after the month of Ramadan. Learn about Ramadan and Eid with Curious George as he helps his friend Kareem fast, prepare for the moon sighting, and join in the Eid festivities at the end of his first month of Ramadan. 

Peg + Cat celebrate Eid al-Adha (which will occur this year on July 31st) with their friends as they explore the concept of fair sharing and giving food to families in need. Read the book or watch the clip here.

Cartoon living room with three children, one wearing hijab, and a cat
Celebrate sharing during Eid-Al-Adha with Peg, Cat, Yasmina and Amir. | Still from “Peg+Cat | Eid-Al-Adha Adventure” PBS LearningMedia

Did exploring all of these different cultures pique your curiosity? Visit National Geographic Kids to take a deeper dive into a country that you are interested in learning more about. You’ll find photos, facts about its unique nature, government and history. Try exploring a new country every day of the week! 

Ideas for Older Children (4th Grade-12th Grade) 

EXPLORE

Look at a map of the world and have your child pick a country. Then, go on a virtual vacation and learn as much as you can about it! What language(s) are spoken? What kind of music, traditional and contemporary, is made there? What is the history of the country? Plan a party with your children themed around the country you picked: cook a meal, listen to music, play games, etc. Need some inspiration? We’ve gathered some resources to help you and your kids get started on their research. 

  • Cook food from another country. Explore recipes in this article featuring five recipes from around the world.  Take your tastebuds on a trip to Spain, Mexico, China, the Middle East and France with these recipes for tortilla española, sopa de tortilla, golden fried rice, shakshuka and crêpes for dessert.

    A plate of crêpes filled with fruit marmalade
    You can fill your crêpes with whatever you like! | Victoria Gonzalez
  • Play a children’s game from another country. 
  • Listen to music from around the globe. You can get active by learning a traditional dance too! 
  • Make a craft from the country you chose. Before creating a craft, do online research to learn the history and significance of the craft to the country’s culture. This blog has some great ideas. We are fans of the “Make Your Own Piñata.” 
  • Kick off learning about a country’s history using National Geographic’s Mapmaker Interactive tool. This site is a great way for your kids to practice geography knowledge and learn facts about a country’s demographics. Then take a walking tour around your country using Google Earth
  • Learn about important cultural landmarks by exploring  UNESCO’s World Heritage Sites.

Test geography knowledge with online map quizzes.

READ

Cultures from the past to today share and remember traditions by passing stories down through generations. Reading folklore and mythology is a great way for your children to learn how different cultures define their beliefs, practices and traditions. Search through thousands of stories on this Folklore and Mythology Archive and learn about the history behind some of the world’s scariest legends on the PBS Digital series Monstrum

Studies show that reading can help cultivate empathy. Explore YA Fiction that is set in other countries. And remember, many libraries in the region are offering free e-card registration!

WATCH

For family movie night, watch a film in a different language. Common Sense Media has some suggestions for kids of all ages. There are so many international films available on streaming that tell compelling stories. The writers of this article are partial to the dramatic and beautiful storytelling of Bollywood films.  In case you need a place to start your international film search, we suggest Kuch Kuch Hota Hai and Kabhi Khushi Kabhie Gham, both available on Netflix. 

Go on an Art Trip around the country and the world with The Art Assignment’s Sarah Urist Green. 

There are so many great history, travel and culture shows available to stream on pbsocal.org, kcet.org and PBS Passport. Check out PBS favorite Rick Steves, Expedition with Steve Backshall or explore these 139 Free-to-Watch Travel Programs

Brush up on the history of the world with Crash Course World History and World History 2.

More Resources

The newest Above the Noise episode from KQED tackles How to Handle Family Stress — something all of us can probably relate to right now!

We want to hear from you!

We would love to see photos of you doing these activities with your family. Email your photos and stories to education@pmgsocal.org