The World Cup is finally here!.... and it's a great tool to get young children interested in learning about world cultures! The buzz surrounding the event is infectious and kids are drawn in by all of the color and excitement on display from the players and their fans. Soccer (or football, futbol, calcio, or...many other words) is a sport that is increasingly familiar and beloved to children all over the world. The World Cup gives us an opportunity to combine a game many children already enjoy with exploring the cultures of the many teams! Athletes are competing from Africa to Southeast Asia, to Iceland to the Middle-East - and all of these players and their colorful fans are all gathered in one place to celebrate a common pastime. It’s quite a testament to how common interests can bring people from very different backgrounds together! If your Little Explorers are very young, they can watch the most exciting 90 seconds of each game on the FOX Soccer YouTube Channel.
3 Ways to use the World Cup to Introduce Kids to Culture:
Go to the map! Every time we watch a game, I show J where each country is found on the map. I let him try to find the countries first, and if he needs help I’ll point them out. If you’re not sure where they are on the map, don’t be intimidated! This is also a great way for us to learn or brush up on some good old geography ourselves.
Focus on Color! My kids are drawn to the colorful uniforms worn by the teams. Most of the time (but not always) these colors correspond with the colors of the team’s national flag. You can identify the flags of the two nations competing against each other and discuss with your little ones whether the uniforms match the colors on the flags. If they don’t exactly match, you can discuss which colors are the same on both the flags and the uniforms and which colors are different.
Learn how to say "Hello"! Use Google Translate (or the service of your choice) to learn to say “hello” in the languages of the competing teams. This is a great activity as it demonstrates to children how many different languages are spoken in the world. Some of the greetings will be similar (or the same) and some will be completely different. Children will be able to hear the differences and similarities for themselves, have fun trying to pronounce the greetings, and even learn a way to greet a new friend.
BONUS: World Cup Party!
If your Little Explorer enjoys these activities (and others you may come up with on your own), you could follow the tournament together and throw a party for the final where you take your exploring a step further! Your party could feature a child-friendly dish from each country playing in the final. You can also play a sampling of music from each country. Take time to discuss the similarities and differences between the music and cuisines of the two countries. Finally, you could also take a virtual tour of the two nations on Google Earth with your little one and explore one or two major landmarks located there. Of Course….if France or Mexico make it to the final (They both look good!) you can use Little Explorers Big World’s free printables and YouTube videos to supplement your exploring! We currently have units for five nations with more coming soon!
Are your Little Explorers interested in the World Cup? Do you have any other ways to explore world cultures through the games? We would love to hear from you!