As we enter the start of a new presidency, my son started to ask questions about the world and everything in it. Scary questions especially when your four-year-old is staring back at you, waiting for a response. So, I let the inner teacher in me out and used a recent gift to transform our Friday evening into a valuable lesson in diversity, culture, and language!
I recently received a beautifully designed world map from Pictureta. When we took it out of the long cardboard tube it was shipped in, my son’s eyes immediately lit up and he was instantly curious to know what the colors meant, what the words said, and about all of the animals on the map.
I couldn’t even get the map on the wall, in his room, before he was down on the floor pointing to every corner of the map, asking so many great questions.
It had been over a decade since the last time I really looked at a world map. But, with the world mapped out in front of me and my son, in full color, it reminded me just how powerful lessons in citizenship and acceptance are for all children.
The next time you come across a map, use it as a learning tool to take a few minutes out of your busy day to sit and talk with your budding linguist about the world around them. Here’s how I turned a map into a two-hour language and culture adventure that my son absolutely loved!
- Focus on where you want to go – When you grab a globe or a map, what’s the first thing you are likely to do? Probably point to where you live, right? Try instead to show your child where you want to go and invite them to join in and explore other parts of the map. It is important to know where we are “from” but it is equally important to focus on where we want to go. My son and I talked about traveling to Australia, China, Russia, even Iceland! He was so excited to see that there were so many places we had to choose from that were all different and interesting, in their own way.
- Explore differences and acceptance – Pictureta’s This Is Your World Map! is perfect for this with the full color images of the animals that are native to each country. My son loved looking at each continent and comparing and contrasting what animals were the same and which were different. This was a natural springboard for us to talk about how we, as people, are the same and different. Being the only non-Asian child at his school, I sometimes worry about him feeling different from his classmates. But, the magical thing about children and language, is that they are both naturally unifying. We used this map to explore how he feels about his school, the world around him, and how it is okay for us to be different in color, likes/dislikes, hair texture, religion, language – you name it!
- Talk about leadership around the world – How many world leaders do you know? Me, personally, only a handful. But, as we were exploring the Pictureta map, we talked about government (on a Pre-K level) and how we elect our President and how this may be different in other countries. Soon this simple, “take the map” out activity had rolled into a government lesson for both of us. He wanted to know who the president was in other countries, what they looked like, how old they were, and if they were “nice” or not. If you are teaching your child a second language, I’d highly recommend finding ways to bring the language to life and instill in them a rich appreciation for people and leaders that may live in those countries that speak that language. After all, we want our children to be more than language consumers, but instead active language connoisseurs of sorts.
BONUS: The best part of the Pictureta map experience is the LANGUAGE! My Chinese is not the best, but my son and I learned the names of the continents and oceans in Chinese. I had to Google Translate how to pronounce some of them, but hey – I stuck to it and we even made a mini language lesson out of it. If you’re looking to do the same, Pictureta has everything to get you started! Their wide variety of great bilingual products can be used as custom decor for your child’s room, or more importantly, as an amazing educational piece to use with your child to explore our multi-faceted world!