Try these activities to develop cooperation, acceptance, and compassion in children, as well as a curiosity and respect for other cultures.
* Label objects in this area with their names in English, as well as Spanish or other languages.
* Offer coins from different countries and quarters from different states. Point out the designs to children.
* Be aware of skin tones in dolls, puppets, and other classroom materials you choose.
* Provide old passports, driver's licenses, empty food cans and boxes with labels, plastic food, bags from different stores, menus from ethnic restaurants, photos of families of different ethnicities.
* Take a full-length photo or a head shot of each child in the class. Tape each picture onto a wooden unit block. Children can use their block friends as they role-play in the block area.
* Lay several hula hoops on the floor in the block area. Ask children to choose a partner and to build a structure within a hula hoop with their partner. This activity helps children learn to work with someone else in a small space and reinforces problem-solving skills.
* Enliven your block center with figures of people and animals, photos of international buildings, blueprints of house plans, or maps.
* Try reading the same book aloud in both English and Spanish. Talk with children about how the different words sound.
* Share fairy tales from different countries. How are they similar to the fairy tales we know? How are they different?
* Include pillows with different patterns to soften the environment. You might choose fabrics associated with different cultures.
* Create a pen-pal program with a class in another part of the country. Exchange photos and care packages or artwork.
* Help children send cards to a classmate who is out sick.
* Ask families to write stories about how their children got their names. Display each story with a picture of the family so everyone can see. You may also want to compile them in a book and keep the book in the library area.
Art and Music Areas
* Listen carefully to a short selection of music. Ask children, "How does it make you feel? Happy? Sad? Afraid? Excited?"
* Bring in magazines that depict people of various cultures and backgrounds. Newspapers can work, as well. Ask children to cut out the images to make collages.
* Trace each child's body on a large sheet of paper. Invite children to fill in the appropriate skin, hair, and eye color for themselves, offer markers, fabric, yarn, buttons, and other materials to help them personalize their poster. Help them write their stories: My name is _____. I have _____ eyes and _____ hair.
* Sample different foods from around the world.
* Compare live plants and where they grow. (Be sure to check a guide to poisonous plants before introducing plants to your class.)
* Measure each child's foot and chart the sizes on a large sheet of poster board.
* Make fingerprints and examine them with magnifying glasses.