Today I learned of two innovative organizations whose work brings students, schools and teachers closer via the internet and social networking. Today’s students are talking to each other instantly with Skype, working on projects jointly and giving new meaning to the words “international collaboration”. I’m thrilled that young children around the world can connect instantaneously and that school curriculum can be enhanced exponentially. With iEARN, over 2 million students are engaged collaboratively every day.
Putumayo has wonderful CD’s that introduce international sounds and rhythms into your childs’ musical library. So turn up the tunes – play French Playground while you’re making crepes and playing “Madeline in Paris” or Latin Playground while making empanadas and playing spanish bingo. Better yet, just make it part of your child’s daily routine so there’s no differentiation between our traditional “kids” music in the U.S. and the wonderful rhythms and beats we hear around the world. I’m always amazed at how my sons seem to dance a little more animated, a little more enthusiastically and even seem to have more fun when I’m playing one of these cd’s around our house. There are lots of other great cd’s out there to introduce world music into your house. Anyone have a favorite they’d like to share?
While I’m on the subject of video/television programs….my 4 and 6-year-old loved watching “Babies”. Mongolia, Tokyo, San Francisco and Namibia are the center of the film as it follows four babies through their first year of life. My kids laughed along with the baby in Mongolia who pushed a stroller into the middle of an ox field and the Namibian baby who licked a dog. I highly recommend this and was surprised at how much my kids enjoyed it. The film prompted questions and helped open conversations about cultural differences. Do you know of any other films that introduce the world to our kids in an entertaining and fun way? Please post if you do!
In honor of the first night of Ramadan, HBO will showcase a new documentary “Koran by Heart”. Much like “Spellbound” this documentary depicts the lives of 10 students as they study and recite whole passages of the Koran in competition. I’ll be watching it for the first time along with the rest of the TV -viewing audience. If your kids are old enough – watch it together. It’s a new window into a population of more than 1 billion people.
Yes. I believe in limited screen time but I also believe in the benefits of introducing languages and cultures to children at a young age. Of course the best vehicle for a new language in your home is a native speaker but that’s not always an option for everyone. There are however, cartoons and shows especially for children and certain shows open our eyes and particularly our ears to other languages. Scan the local offerings in your area and if there aren’t interesting or age-appropriate shows on free stations then consider subscribing to cable shows. For the price of a movie rental you can often get a month’s worth of cartoons. Mecanimals and Harry Y Su Cubeta de Dinosaurios are favorites in our household but there are so many to choose from. National Geographic also offers “Toot & Puddle” about two piglets. One travels the world and the other stays at home – showing benefits of both. For english-speakers Toot & Puddle offers a wonderful view of international travel and cultural experiences but you can also watch the show in spanish and other languages. For a link to the National Geographic Site and Toot & Puddle click here. Again, we all want to limit screen time in our household and everyone has to determine what works for them. Hearing the sound and assimilating to a new language should be part of every childhood.