In my mind, there’s no better education than the experiences you have while traveling. The immersive experience helps us connect what we read in books with the real world. We meet people, experience new sights, smells, sounds and gain an appreciation not just for how others live, but how we live as well.

I wish we could travel more as a family but it’s super expensive, the plane rides are long and the amount of scheduling it requires can be too much to handle.

However, that doesn’t mean we can’t still learn about a place and its culture. In this episode of Adventures in Learning, we take a trip to another country without ever leaving our living room.

What I love about this adventure is that it requires kids and parents to use their imaginations. Another thing I like about this is that it doesn’t require parents to be an expert in a country or culture. Instead, it’s something kids and parents can learn about together. Showing kids you’re interested in learning helps them view knowledge as a life-long pursuit. It also shows them we’re only human, we don’t know everything.

We start with lesson in geography and use food as our gateway. Food is something that connects us all. We all need to eat, right? Food makes this adventure memorable and encourages the kids to think beyond pizza, hot dogs and cheesy macaroni.

You can scale this adventure to meet you and your family’s needs/interests/time. Instead of choosing a country, choose a state. Instead of making food, order carry out. Break up the experience over the course of the week. Talk about geography one day, read about the culture another, and end the week with a meal.

And if your kids are competitive, break up into teams: team decorating vs team cooking.

Looking at a globe

Here are some more ideas for you…

Maps + Globes
Visuals are a great way to teach kids about geography. Search yard sales and thrift stores to find globes and maps to place around the home.

Menu
Squeeze in some literacy and fun by encouraging the kids to make menus.

Music
Some music from the region can liven things up and set the mood.

Pictures
If your kids like to draw, have them draw travel posters or scenes from the region. Tape them up around the house.

Have a great time on your trip! It’s one geography lesson the kids are sure to remember for years to come.

More Adventures in Learning

About Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper

Jennifer Cooper is the blogger behind Classic-Play.com, an online resource for creative families.  Her favorite past times include: dancing around her living room, watching the Pink Panther with her kids and daydreaming. She lives in Baltimore, MD with her husband, photographer Dave Cooper, and two children. 

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  • s …

    this is so brilliant… I would also involve having some music playing and create a piece of art for the ‘restaurant’!

    and

    http://tinyurl.com/kvowtfd

    • Jennifer Cooper

      Fantastic ideas!

  • Fadoua

    Hello, I’m Moroccan. I think that the idea is good. But in Morocco, we dont eat on the floor, we have tables …and your couscous is not cooked correctly. Same as the harira.
    so to not offend other people’s culture, you should try to learn more about the country
    before trying to teach someone or something…

    • Jennifer Cooper

      Hi Fadoua, I’m sorry I missed your comment here earlier. I responded to many of the same comments over on YouTube.

      But since you commented here, I wanted to respond. Hopefully this response will reach you.

      First, we sat on the floor because our
      coffee table in the living room was too small to hold our plates so we
      improvised and put it on the floor. It never crossed our minds this
      would be offensive. We would have done the same if we had cooked
      Italian, French, Indian or any other variety of cuisine.

      Second, I’m not sure how you can tell in the grainy footage that I cooked the food incorrectly. However, I believe my quote was “I would do my best to make Moroccan food.” This is not a cooking show, but a series to encourage families to make learning more adventurous.

      Now, I suppose I could have avoided trying to teach my kids anything altogether since I’m not an expert in Morocco. You’re right about that. But my kids walked away from this experience thinking that they had things in common with kids in Morocco (their love of mint tea, that they study some of the same things, that they play video games just like them). And to me, that’s more powerful than knowing how to make couscous correctly (steamed, not soaked and fluffed several times so that it’s light and fluffy).

      I’m sorry you didn’t care for this episode. My hope for this video
      wasn’t to capture the entirety of a culture in four minutes, but to give
      parents ideas for helping introduce children to the great big world
      around them even if they have a limited budget and resources.

  • nadia

    hi mrs cooper .the idea was good but sorry you had to buy morrocan food from Moroccan restaurant not making it , we don t sit on the floor we use tables ,we have one of the best ccoking in the world you re not teaching the true about country we know people by traveling and living with them

    • Jennifer Cooper

      Hi Nadia, I’m sorry I missed your comment here. I responded to many of the same comments over on YouTube.

      First, I did make much of the food. Second, we sat on the floor because our coffee table in the living room was too small to hold our plates so we improvised and put it on the floor. It never crossed our minds this would be offensive. We would have done the same if we had cooked Italian, French or any other variety of cuisine.

      Finally, you’re absolutely correct—what we did is not nearly as effective a lesson as traveling and living among a people in their country. I would absolutely have LOVED if we had the money to travel to different countries and live among different people. Since that is not possible, this was our way of trying to expand our children’s world view.

      I imagine what upset you most is that my kids didn’t seem to like the food. I’m sure it’s the same for kids all around the world: they are used to what they eat, and when they are given another culture’s food, they don’t necessarily always particularly care for it. It’s not that the food is bad, it’s that they aren’t used to it.

      I’m sorry for anything we got wrong and you didn’t care for this episode. My hope for this video wasn’t to capture the entirety of a culture in four minutes, but to give parents ideas for helping introduce children to the great big world around them even if they have a limited budget and resources.

  • Souad

    Hi Jennifer, I applaud your idea and the great effort that went into it. In fact I am going to recommend your site to my sister who teaches Arabic and Arab culture in Fairfax schools to use as a model for her students. I am Moroccan, I can tell you that you captured the mood and the scenery perfectly! I have read some critical entries about your film, I don’t understand why anybody would be offended by something done so beautifully! Your son’s reaction to some of the food reminded me of my own son’s reaction when I introduced him to some Moroccan dishes. It was nice to see somebody interested in Morocco. I wish more people had your approach to learning about other cultures. Our world would be a much nicer place. Thanks again for a great idea !

    • Jennifer Cooper

      Oh Souad, thank you so very, very much. I am giving you a great big virtual hug right now. Hope that’s not too forward of me ;)

    • Jennifer Cooper

      Oh and one more thing I failed to mention in my earlier reply, thank you for taking the time to comment! It means a lot. Honestly.