Do you like to travel? Have you travelled in the past?
I love travelling and I wish I had more time and money to devote to it! There are so many wonderful places to go, food to eat, and people to meet! Summer break is coming and maybe you have some awesome plans made to visit the Grand Canyon, or to someplace exotic like India or Thailand. Maybe you will just visit your grandparents in the next city over. Well wherever you go, think of ways to share your experiences with your students.
“But I’m a teacher, and I can’t because I don’t have time. I’ve travelled in the past but struggle to find a way to bring those experiences into my classroom.”
Have you said something similar to the lines above, or heard someone else say them? If not, pretend you have and let’s move on.
I saw an article on We Are Teachers, that gives eleven tips on sharing travel experiences with your students in fun and interactive ways!
1.Never underestimate the power of food! – If you’ve travelled to a country like Japan, for example, think of a day where you can share that experience and bring in some homemade (if you’re daring) or take-out Japanese food. Food is something people can connect with from all over the world. Also kids love to eat! The food can get them to talk about flavors, appearance, favorite foods, and international foods!
2. Create an Eco lesson. – We all know it’s important to care for the Earth. It’s the only one we’ve got (for now). If you’ve travelled to some beautiful mountainous area devoid of people, just clean air and animals, it’s sad to think that it could all be gone someday. If you can give an ecosystems lesson (or mini-lesson), ask your students why it’s important to care for the Earth. I’m sure many can give good answers like, “we need clean air”; “we need clean water”; “we need homes for us and the animals”. Show them pictures from your time in the mountains, beaches, etc., and then show pictures of those same places with polluted air and water, overpopulated with people, deforestation, etc., This topic can be a very worth-while discussion.
3. Have a story-telling day. – If you have a unit on folktales, myths, legends and other stories, it’s the perfect opportunity to share a travel story! You can educate kids about people, culture, land, and animals from another place around the world.
4. Learn from literature! – One fun thing to do is read stories from other countries, in other languages! Children’s books often have very easy vocabulary and grammar in them, and kids can “feel”like they’ve travelled to that country by speaking the language in the book.
5. Celebrate a foreign holiday. – If you’ve travelled to a foreign country for one of their holidays, or if one of your students is familiar with a traditional holiday from another country (or perhaps their own home country), celebrating something like Chinese New Year, or Dia de Muertos, can help students understand the culture, foods, and traditions of another country. It’s a great way to begin discussion about international life, and where kids may want to travel to if they have a chance.
6. Music! Music! Music! – Have your own World Music Festival! I love world music and it’s fun to listen to all the different instruments from around the world. The different melodies, harmonies, rhythms, and tones of the various types of music are so unique! Listen to a piece of traditional music from countries in East Asia, Africa, Europe, the Americas, and the Middle East/South and Central Asia. Students can have fun hearing different songs, instruments, and if you have any instruments to bring in that’s even better!
7. Have international pen pals!– Pen pals are great! Kids can make friends from all over the world, as well as work on their writing and grammar skills. Kids can share their own stories and experiences with other kids from another country. They can send and receive gifts! It would take a bit of time to coordinate with the participating school, but if you can get it set up, it can serve as a fun experience for you students!
8. Overcome differences! – People usually fear what they don’t know, and that can lead to racial discrimination, bullying, and just ignorant comments. Kids, especially if they haven’t had any (or very little) exposure to people of other cultures and ethnicities, can say some pretty (unintentional) racist remarks. I’ve heard a few here where I teach in South Korea. Most kids rarely leave Korea, and usually their comments are just childish ignorance. Instead of getting upset, it’s the perfect time to educate them on differences between people but also how we’re all the same. Kids’ lives in some village in Africa and kids’ lives in South Korea can be easily compared: they have to go to school, play with friends, do chores, etc. When you put it that way, kids can understand others easier.
9. Architecture around the world. – Talking about travel also helps you talk about buildings around the world. You can show what houses, offices, historical sites, churches and other sites look like! Kids will get a kick out of seeing the Roman Colosseum, Stonehenge, or the Egyptian or Aztec Pyramids.
10. Animals of the world – Kids love to talk about their favorite animal. There are so many fun pictures and videos to show about animals all over the world. You can get kids to talk about different kinds of animals (mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, etc.) and even different coverings (scales, fur/hair, feathers, smooth/rough skin, wet/dry skin). Animals are always a great topic to generate discussion, even from those quieter students in class.
11. Photo tours – Photos are always fun to look at! One way to bring your travel experiences into the classroom, is to organize photos into a slide show. Students can have a first-hand look at the places you’ve been. They can also practice imagining themselves there and discuss how the photos make them feel and what they would want to do.
Travelling opens our minds to new possibilities, experiences, and cultures. We can learn more about ourselves, as well as those with whom we share this Earth.
So, how can you help your students develop a love for travel and learning?