Exploring Asia

Jennifer Bostwick
May 31, 2018

Celebrating cultural diversity develops accepting, creative, and interesting children. Preschoolers are fascinated by differences and new ways of doing things. Even mundane, daily activities come to life for little ones when they are able to participate in them in a different way. Discovering a new culture and part of the world can be exciting when explored through a preschooler's eyes. Asia presents an array of cultures that offer many incredible aspects to explore. Teach your child about Asia in the next few weeks by including some of these fun ideas into your day.

First, be sure to locate Asia on a map with your inquisitive little one. Illustrating the area between the United States and Asia, and the various Asian countries that make up the Asian continent, will give your child a geographic and spatial understanding of the region and its relation to the United States. (You can print this map.)  After examining the map with your child, have him or her choose an Asian country to investigate. For the specific Asian country chosen, plan a day or week of hands-on preschool activities celebrating that country's culture. 

For example, if you child chooses China, start by coloring the Chinese flag. Next be sure to read some beloved Chinese tales, such as Tikki Tikki Tembo or The Jade Stone. Help your little chef make some moon cookies for a festive Chinese snack.  Have fun with chopsticks held together at the top with a rubber band. Practice with some finger foods and explain that kuaizi is the Chinese word for chopsticks, used by Chinese people for more than 3,000 years. Don't forget to decorate the house with Chinese paper lanterns. These are colorful and festive when hung together on a piece of yarn. Take time to explain the essence of each activity so your child grasps some of the history of cultural traditions.  Show your culturally aware munchkin the Chinese Lion Dance, and be sure to share the story behind the lion dance to give it meaning.

After you have spent a few days learning about China with your child, make time to explore another Asian culture.  Japan offers festive and meaningful events, crafts and stories.  After locating Japan on the map, print the flag of Japan for your child to color.   Let your little one help prepare fun sushi balls for a festive snack.  Read Japanese Celebrations and recreate a Japanese celebration at home.  Better yet, search for a Cherry Blossom Festival to attend in a nearby city this spring. If there is no festival near you, just take your child to enjoy a fun meal under a blossoming cherry tree, a celebrated custom in Japan.  Teach your preschooler about origami by trying some easy origami animals, such as a dog or make a Japanese fan, historically created to spread good cheer.  Don't forget to read Japan ABCs and watch Japanese dance with your little one.

Each Asian culture offers unique qualities you can easily incorporate into your daily routine. Be sure to read some related literature, try a new recipe and create a culturally relevant craft with your preschooler for each country you investigate. To add even more fun, learn how to say "hello" and "I love you" in each Asian language.  In no time, your young world scholar will know many important facts about Asian culture and grow up with a respect and understanding other cultures.

From the Parents

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