CHILDREN ARE LIVING CULTURAL TREASURES, THE first part of the "next" generation. Each child carries so many unspoken messages-their facial structure and eyes, the way their parents comb their hair for school, or that first new pair of "school shoes." As our children grow up, they, in turn, will pass along their own traditions.

Thanks to technology, we have some powerful new tools that can help us document and tell children's cultural stories. Computers, camcorders, tape recorders, and digital cameras are steadily gaining acceptance by more teachers on a regular basis. Teachers at the Center for Best Practices in Early Childhood at Western Illinois University, for example, are encouraged to use programs like HyperStudio or PowerPoint to bring children's own experiences into the curriculum. Linda Robinson and Amy Betz of the Center offered these examples:

OUR BABY BOOK. Give each child one page or screen, and invite families to send in baby pictures and information about their child as a baby. Children's voices can be recorded as they talk about what they thought their lives were like when they were babies. Children's drawings, voices, and family photographs can be included in the project.

A BOOK ABOUT ME. With the help of an adult, invite each child to create her own e-book about herself, again using software such as HyperStudio. Each page or screen can include unique family traditions. Children's drawings can be scanned and their voices recorded as they share their favorite stories. (If you do not have access to a software program such as HyperStudio, ask children to create their drawings on white construction paper and describe their drawings and print their dictations on accompanying pages. Display children's books in the library area where they can be easily shared.)

STAR OF THE WEEK. Designate a special week for each child. During the special week, invite family members to visit the classroom and talk about their family's heritage. As they share special items, document the event with a digital camera. The teacher, child, and family then together create a HyperStudio project about the child or Star of the Week. (If a digital camera is not available, you can simply take pictures with any standard camera and sequence the pictures on construction paper pages to create a Star of the Week memory book for each child.)

FAMILY RECIPES. Collect family recipes on paper, and then type them into any word processor or HyperStudio or PowerPoint. The pages can be printed and sent home to each family.

FAMILY RITUALS. Take digital pictures or video of children's family dances, rituals, or songs. Using software like Movie or PowerPoint, create a special video for any family night or parent/teacher conference.

EXPANDING CULTURAL KNOWLEDGE. There are thousands of useful Web sites for learning more about a particular culture. Magic Tales of Mexico ( is one such site, useful for finding folk tales about Mexico. The great thing about these sites is that you're actually reading content developed in the source country.