by Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder
Have you always wanted to take a trip to a foreign land? Perhaps you want to visit Egypt, Ireland, India, China, or Italy! While you wait for that dream vacation you can experience the next best thing. Go international -- at home!
This is an activity you may want to do in one day, or you might prefer to stretch it out over a week or even a month! First, pick a destination. Print out (or display) a world map and mark your targeted country. Throughout this activity you are going to focus as much as possible on the culture, the environment, the customs, language and more! Read about it, learn some common phrases, prepare "native" meals, and do a craft associated with your country.
Let's use our recent "virtual journey" to Spain as an example. Remember, these are just suggestions to get you started! The point is to learn and have fun!
To prepare for our "visit" to Spain, we dropped by a local travel office and requested brochures. If you can plan ahead, contact the Tourism Bureau of your chosen country and request a packet. Those often come loaded with information including colorful maps, facts, and histories. We also printed out both a world map and a blank outlined map of Spain for the kids to color.
Meals: We had a day of "Spanish" meals. We hunted down recipes for delicious Spanish Breakfast Omelette, Gazpacho (a cold tomato soup) for lunch, and finally, Filetes de Pollo (chicken filets) and rice dish. Don't forget the sangria (or red punch for the kids!!)
Craft idea: Since Spain is well known for its artistry in fine ceramics, the we decided to try our own hand at decorating vases and ceramic pots. We purchased these ahead of time cheaply and then with tempera paints added bright colors, floral and geometric patterns. One child truly got into the spirit by doing his version of "Picasso".
Music and Language: We had a head start here by having tapes on hand but you could easily pick these up from the local library. My suggestion is to find a "Spanish for Kids" tape to listen to for basic language (colors, numbers, phrases) and maybe a classical Spanish guitar (simply beautiful) to play in the background throughout the day.
Destinations: Pick out some highlights and visit online. For example, we visited Barcelona and Madrid, explored castles from the conquistadors, experienced a "bull fight" and more!
History, Government, Culture: Check out a few "family friendly" guides/books from the library on your chosen country. Together you will want to read all you can. We discovered famous artists, explorers, musicians and more! If you decide to stretch this activity out spend time focused on particular people, places and things! For more ideas, see It's a Big World Out There!
Enjoy your journey! Safe travel!
Julie Snyder is a mom of six, interested in kids, pregnancy, birth, people and lives in the outlying Seattle area. Melissa Jaramillo is mom to many. She's passionate about building, encouraging, and strengthening families on this adventure known as parenthood!
Copyright © Melissa Jaramillo and Julie Snyder. Permission to republish granted to Pregnancy.org, LLC.