Today’s post has no recipes. I just wanted to share a thought. When our Kiddo was still in school, I worried about his brain turning to mush. He attended year-round school, so we had a month off in October, three weeks for Christmas and two weeks for Easter. That’s a lot of down time. So I came up with a fun way to broaden his horizons, keeps his mind active and have fun all at the same time. We usually traveled in October, the weather was nice and most “kid” friendly destinations weren’t overly crowded. Christmas and Easter breaks were another story. It seemed to make sense to combine my love of cooking with his love of travel. While we couldn’t explore the globe literally, we could travel in other ways. As each school break approached, our little man would pick a country to “visit”. During the break, we got books, videos and CDs from the local library. We learned a few basic phrases in the language spoken in our country of choice. We also concentrated on customs and traditions of that land – the history and the people. This included learning about foods. On the last day of “break” we donned homemade costumes (crepe paper and fabric remnants work well), prepared a traditional meal and served it in a traditional fashion. (Japan, for example, was served at the coffee table, sitting on cushions). We listened to music from the country to help set the mood. Kiddo would “teach” us what he had learned about the people and act as our “guide” in a foreign land via posters and other creative ways to enhance the experience. Not only was this fun for him, we learned a thing or two along the way.
Cooking is also a great way to teach and reinforce skills such as math and science. It brings other lands into focus in ways that books cannot. The dining experience creates a tangible memory that will stay with them a lifetime. I honestly believe that Kiddo has a compassionate heart in part because he discovered through this experience that people are basically the same. They might look different from him and speak a different language, but deep down inside, what makes us human is the same. Just a thought for your young ones. Let them pick a place to visit, immerse themselves as much as possible in the culture and “walk” in the shoes of those they might never encounter otherwise but could appreciate none the less. And the kids are engaged – using their imaginations to travel the world while absorbing a little culture and knowledge along the way.
Did you ever have a picnic in the living room on a rainy day? Or go camping in the backyard? This is the same concept kicked up a notch. And you don’t have to limit yourself to other lands – you can travel back in time or even create an imaginary future.
Hum, my guy might not be a “kid” anymore, but maybe we’ll need to take a trip soon . . . wonder where he’ll want to go now that he’s all grown up.