I came across an interesting website, Peace Gallery, where you can see thousands of images from hugely diverse cultures — many of young children — as viewed through the cameras of America's Peace Corps volunteers. At first glance, I noticed how different everyone looks — different skin, eyes, and clothing, But look closely, and you start noticing the similarities: People in the pictures are playing, eating, cuddling, crying, and laughing.
Today's early childhood classroom is the first "melting-pot" experience for many families. It may also be the first time children meet others who are "different" from themselves. Here are some ways you can use technology to help children better understand one another and develop an appreciation for other cultures.
Spotlight Similarities and Differences
- Make a face gallery. Every family gets up in the morning and sends its best "cultural messenger" to you in the form of their child. Take your camera, turn the flash off, and zoom in close on each child's face. Capture every detail, and then print out each picture on an 8 1/2" x 11" sheet of paper and make a "face gallery" bulletin board. If you don't have a color printer, don't worry — the pictures look great in black and white.
- Bring home to school. Ask students to bring in pictures of their home. If necessary, offer parents a classroom camera to take home for the weekend. Provide a "shot list" of ideas that includes their child's bedroom, pets, favorite toys, and so on. Use the photos to make a bulletin board that features that child.
- Listen in on home. Encourage children to record the sounds of family members who may speak a different language, the music they enjoy, foods sizzling on the stove, and family activities. When you play the audio in the classroom, see if children can identify the different languages spoken or guess what kinds of foods are cooking in the kitchen!
- Create a recipe book. Ask each family for a favorite recipe and design a class recipe book. Print a copy for each child and send it home. Have fun naming the dishes — Lucy's Lovely Lasagna, for example.
Websites That Support Curriculum on Kindness and Diversity
Here are some websites you can use to help introduce children to different places, cultures, and people. You can also recommend these to parents to support learning at home:
Can hate be "unlearned"? The group dedicated to fighting hate and bigotry has several articles for teachers, including "Talking to Your Child About Hatred & Prejudice".
This excellent online resource for teachers is designed to help children understand cultural diversity.
This site offers a nice variety of lesson plans designed to teach tolerance.
Sixty U.S. teachers are tracked during their trip to China. Learn more about the PBS documentary, and don't miss the wonderful collection of links and articles on teaching diversity.
Peace Corps volunteers display thousands of images from around the world. The pictures show the amazing diversity and similarities of people.