30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling

July 9th, 2013 by Dionna | 16 Comments
Posted in Adults, Carnival and Special Series, Carnival of Natural Parenting, Children, Community Service, Compassionate Advocacy, Eclectic Learning, Preschoolers, Teens

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Welcome to the July 2013 Carnival of Natural Parenting: Learning About Diversity

This post was written for inclusion in the monthly Carnival of Natural Parenting hosted by Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama. This month our participants have shared how they teach their children to embrace and respect the variety of people and cultures that surround us. Please read to the end to find a list of links to the other carnival participants.


30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling

One of the reasons we chose not to outsource our kids’ education is so that our children can learn about the world by being in the world – not by sitting in the classroom reading about the world.

We have great travel plans – and we’re trying to do a little bit at a time from the very beginning. We don’t want to keep pushing travel back to some undefined age or date or maturity level or income. If we do, we might end up never traveling and regretting it.

There are so many real life lessons we can learn through travel. Geography, math, history – traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Since we’re talking about diversity in this month’s Carnival of Natural Parenting, I started thinking about how to purposefully incorporate a focus on diversity through traveling. I asked my sister – a world traveler and all-around fantastic lady – to help.

We hope that you’ll find several ideas to extend your learning to reach beyond your own culture and community. These ideas are intended to reflect on more than visible diversity – race or gender or ability or other differences we can see, but on invisible diversity – religion, income, family structure, and more.

Of course you can use many of these ideas to learn about diversity in your own community, too! I’ve shared examples from our home town – Kansas City – and we are excited to explore some of the opportunities we have nearby.

Below is the list we came up with – our ideas range from the very simple (eat locally!), to activities you can plan months in advance (map out and travel the same route as characters in a favorite book!). You can extend any of these ideas as appropriate for your kids’ learning levels and interests; at the very least you can check out some books from the library, read and discuss in advance, and have some background before walking into the local festivals, museums, or eateries.

Incorporating Diversity Into Your (Homeschooling) Travels

  1. Attend local festivals. Check out the city’s events calendar and look for local festivals that showcase different heritages, cultures, etc. For example, annual events in Kansas City include an Ethnic Enrichment Festival, Irish Fest, Greek Festival, a Jazz and Blues festival, and many more.
  2. Read a book about diversity, then visit one of the locations or a museum on the same topic. You can search for relevant literature on the Database of Award Winning Children’s Literature. Narrow the results by age, select “multicultural,” and add any other search terms or parameters your children are interested in.
  3. Check out cultural centers. Many cities and states have unique cultural centers that celebrate the people who helped build their community and who live there today. They may offer tours and other educational programs and opportunities for homeschooling families, just call in advance. In Kansas City, the Cultural Crossroads has an educational program for children called Reading and Rhythm that brings to life stories from different cultures through music and movement.
  4. Couch surf! Meet members of other communities at organized events, or even stay and eat with families in their homes. CouchSurfing.org connects people all over the world who want to enrich their journeys with connection. “Couchsurfers share their lives with the people they encounter, fostering cultural exchange and mutual respect.”
  5. Appreciate local art. Contact the city’s Art Council and find out about area museums. You may find museums that host artists from various cultures, such as Kansas City’s Latino Cultural Arts Division of Mattie Rhodes.
  6. Buff up at local history museums. Expand your knowledge of the area by getting hands on with local history. You may be able to check out or purchase in advance books on local history written by area authors. Read through them in advance!
  7. Visit downtown. Many cities have made efforts to bolster their downtown areas. Check out the downtown businesses, eateries and activities wherever you visit. Here are some of the ways we enjoyed a day in our downtown last year.
  8. Eat local. Eating locally goes without saying. Plan special meals ahead of time by reading reviews at Urban Spoon, or even better, the Eat Well Guide – bringing you local, organic, sustainable restaurants across the United States.
  9. See first-hand how things change and how they stay the same. Find a book that shows historical pictures of the city, then visit those same sites and take pictures of your own. For example, there is a really cool book called Kansas City Then & Now that shows sections of the city in different eras. It is fascinating to look at how the scenery changes!
  10. Shop farmer’s markets. Shopping farmer’s markets keeps you healthier while traveling (instead of eating a bunch of take-out), connects you with local growers, and gives you opportunities to discuss the area with the locals. Find local markets through FarmersMarket.com, or simply search Google. (Read 9 Insider Tips for Farmer’s Market Newbies!)
  11. Learn a game that originated there. Learn about a game – card, board, sport, etc. – that originated in the area or is popular there. Play it in advance and look for opportunities to join in a game while you are in the area. Look at local libraries or community centers for information.
  12. How about HomeschoolSurfing? Take a cue from CouchSurfing.org and contact a local homeschooling organization to join in on that week’s activities. Your kids can participate in local homeschooling outings while meeting local kids.
  13. Read the town newspaper (focus on local section). See what’s going on, what the locals are talking about, what is newsworthy in that community.
  14. Cheer for a local sporting event. Go to a high school, college, or independent sporting event. The kids who are playing won’t care where you’re from!
  15. Volunteer. Connect with the area volunteer center or search out an opportunity on your own. Here are ten ideas for volunteering with young children.
  16. Reflect on differences in getting around in town. Some places you have to drive everywhere. Some places have a metro or train. Some places rely on taxis. Some offer green alternatives. What do these options show about the place?
  17. Take the local transportation. While you’re in town, get around like the locals do – you’ll see the city from an insider’s perspective.
  18. Figure out what monuments and exhibits are being advertised. The events a community advertises demonstrates what earns local pride. Discuss how special events are a reflection of community.
  19. Read books and/or watch movies and TV shows that are set in that place. What stories are told about the city? Why are those stories important? What time period is important in the area’s history?
  20. Interview locals. Think about a few questions that you’d like to get a local perspective on, and develop a survey. Talk to some of the community members while you’re shopping at the farmer’s markets or taking public transportation. Ask them your survey questions and compare the responses.
  21. Travel the trajectory of characters in a favorite book. Read about life on the Oregon Trail and compare your trip. Enter the world of Mary and Laura and follow where their wagon wheels rolled. Find characters your kids can relate to and make their stories come alive.
  22. Attend a church service. The vast majority of churches welcome visitors. Take advantage of their hospitality and sing some new songs, admire a different sanctuary, and learn about a new religion on vacation.
  23. Enjoy local music. Take in a concert that features local musicians. If the atmosphere allows, see if they’ll chat with your kids about the flavor and history of the local music scene.
  24. Locate historical sites.
  25. Take a walking tour. Or better yet, create one of your own!
  26. Take part in the Junior Park Ranger available through the National Park system. Many of the National Parks offer educational games that are centered around the local history. Once kids complete the games, they get a Junior Park Ranger badge.
  27. Go on a scavenger hunt. Create a scavenger hunt for your family with clues that feature local trivia.
  28. Contact community colleges. Community colleges can offer a host of educational programs and opportunities – from small, unadvertised displays to performances and other activities, you can find a variety of affordable options for family fun.
  29. Create a play about a famous person or event that occurred in the city. When children put themselves into the role of another, the shift really personalizes alternate experiences. Read more about transformative reading (also known as “reader’s theater”) and other ways to promote understanding of diversity at Learn NC.
  30. Peruse the library. Just like community colleges, libraries usually have frequent programs that bring community members together. Take advantage of these free activities.

Here are some more resources that can help you come up with activities to learn about and celebrate diversity:

Keeping and Creating American Communities

Writing Our Communities: Local Learning and Public Culture

Teaching “Diversity”: A Place to Begin

Teaching Children About Diversity


Carnival of Natural Parenting -- Hobo Mama and Code Name: MamaVisit Hobo Mama and Code Name: Mama to find out how you can participate in the next Carnival of Natural Parenting!

Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:

(This list will be updated by afternoon July 9 with all the carnival links.)

  • A gift for my daugther — Amanda, a special education teacher for students with multiple exceptionalities, discusses at My Life in a Nutshell how she will enrich her daughter’s life by educating her the amazing gifts her students will bring to the world.
  • The Beauty in Our Differences — Meegs at A New Day writes about her discussions with her daughter about how accepting ourselves and those around us, with all our beautiful differences and similarities, makes the world a better place.
  • Accepting Acceptance and Tolerating Tolerance — Destany at They Are All of Me examines the origins of and reasons behind present day social conformity.
  • Differencessustainablemum discusses what she feels to be the important skills for embracing diversity in her family home.
  • Turning Japanese — Erin Yuki at And Now, for Something Completely Different shares how she teaches her kiddos about Japanese culture, and offers ideas about “semi immersion” language learning.
  • Celebrating Diversity at the International House Cottages — Mommy at Playing for Peace discovers the cultures of the world with her family at local cultural festivals
  • Learning About Diversity by Honoring Your Child’s Multiple Heritages — Jennifer at Hybrid Rasta Mama looks at the importance of truly knowing your roots and heritage and how to help children honor their multiple heritages.
  • People. PEOPLE! — Kellie at Our Mindful Life is trying to teach her children to use language that reflects respect for others, even when their language doesn’t seem to them to be disrespectful.
  • Call Me Clarice, I Don’t Care – A True Message in Diversity — Lisa at The Squishable Baby knows that learning to understand others produces empathetic children and empathetic families.
  • Diversity of Families — Family can be much more then a blood relation. Jana at Jananas on why friends are so important for her little family of three.
  • Diverse Thoughts Tamed by Mutual Respect — Amy at Me, Mothering, and Making it All Work thinks that diversity is indispensable to our vitality, but that all of our many differences require a different sort of perspective, one led by compassion and mutual respect.
  • Just Shut Up! — At Old New Legacy, Becky gives a few poignant examples in her life when listening, communication and friendship have helped her become more accepting of diversity.
  • The World is our Oyster — Mercedes at Project Procrastinot is thankful for the experiences that an expat lifestyle will provide for herself as well as for her children.
  • Children’s black & white views (no pun intended … kind of) — Lauren at Hobo Mama wonders how to guide her kids past a childish me vs. them view of the world without shutting down useful conversation.
  • Raising White Kids in a Multicultural World — Leanna at All Done Monkey offers her two cents on how to raise white children to be self-confident, contributing members of a colorful world. Unity in diversity, anyone?
  • Ramadan Star and Moon Craft — Celebrate Ramadan with this star and moon craft from Stephanie at InCultureParent, made out of recycled materials, including your kid’s art!
  • Race Matters: Discussing History, Discrimination, and Prejudice with Children — At Living Peacefully with Children, Mandy discusses how her family deals with the discrimination against others and how she and her husband are raising children who are making a difference.
  • The Difference is Me – Living as the Rainbow Generation — Terri at Child of the Nature Isle, guest posting at Natural Parents Network, is used to being the odd-one-out, but walking an alternative path with children means digging deeper, answering lots of questions and opening to more love.
  • My daughter will only know same-sex marriage as normal — Doña at Nurtured Mama realizes that the recent Supreme Court rulings on same-sex marriage will change the way she talks to her daughter about her own past.
  • Montessori-Inspired Respect for Diversity — Deb Chitwood at Living Montessori Now tells about her multicultural family and shares Montessori-inspired ideas for encouraging respect for diversity.
  • EveryDay Diversity — Ana at Panda & Ananaso makes diversity a part of everyday living, focusing on raising of compassionate and respectful child.
  • Diversity as Part of Life — Even though Laura at Authentic Parenting thought she had diversity covered, she found out that some things are hard to control.
  • Inequity and Privilege — Jona is unpacking questions raised by a summit addressing inequity in breastfeeding support at Life, Intertwined.
  • 3 Ways to Teach Young Children About Diversity — Charise at I Thought I Knew Mama recognizes her family’s place of privilege and shares how she is teaching her little ones about diversity in their suburban community.
  • Teaching diversity: tales from public school — A former public high school teacher and current public school parent, Jessica at Crunchy-Chewy Mama values living in a diverse community.
  • 30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling — Traveling with kids can bring any subject alive. Dionna at Code Name: Mama has come up with a variety of ways you can incorporate diversity education into your family travels (regardless of whether you homeschool). From couch surfing to transformative reading, celebrate diversity on your next trip!
  • Diversity, huh? — Jorje of Momma Jorje doesn’t do anything BIG to teach about diversity; it’s more about the little things.
  • Chosen and Loved — From Laura at Pug in the Kitchen: Color doesn’t matter. Ethnicity doesn’t matter. Love matters.
  • The One With The Bright Skin — Stefanie at Very Very Fine tries to recover from a graceless response to her son’s apparent prejudice.

16 Responses to:
"30 Ideas to Encourage Learning about Diversity While Traveling"

  1. Lauren @ Hobo Mama   Hobo_Mama

    Great ideas! I love delving into the local culture when we travel — it’s the way you really feel a part of the new location. And I liked that article you linked to, because Sam and I have been talking recently about how we never travel anywhere fun since having children. I intend to remedy that, soon!

  2. Jessica @ Crunchy-Chewy Mama   crunchychewy

    This is a fabulous list! What a great resource. Thank you!

  3. jana   janafalls

    We’re big travelers already. Little man has visited family in the States, been to Iceland and the UK with us, and we’re flying to Vancouver next week.

    I love the tip about learning a local game! What a fun way to introduce conversation (and to keep things lively/interesting for the parents!).

  4. Ana   anazpanda

    I love this list, and it’s great for littles not yet in home/un/schooling! I’ve been working on exposing Niko to many of these, as we discover more of what our city has to offer (for free is especially nice) and delve deeper into living more healthfully. Thanks for more awesome recommendations on things to do!

  5. we travel regularly with our three children, and have always start the travel at home. If we are traveling to Italy we pick up language cassettes and childrens books in Italian, we pin the map on the wall and test each other as to where cities are located. We play around with the language at dinner, shopping, anytime. It is so much fun -then we take all our knowledge, language and fun attitude on our travels. The diversity always starts at home.xoxoxo

  6. Nice list! I love that you included some local resources. Joe and I would love to travel some day, and we would love to one day own an RV or fifth wheel camper.
    I’m such a history buff, I can’t wait to show my kids what the land they live on once held, to celebrate the many kinds of people who walk on it today. Thanks for the list!

  7. We too want to travel the world with our children, I live this list it includes so many things I would do and some good ideas, thank you!

  8. Momma Jorje   mommajorje

    What a great list of suggestions! I like the idea of interviewing locals and, specifically, think asking THEM what the coolest things to see would be. I mean, there are some things in my town that might not be in brochures, but are very cool. I’m sure its the same everywhere.

  9. Deb @ Living Montessori Now   DebChitwood

    What an awesome list of ideas, Dionna! Traveling with kids can be such an enriching experience for everyone, and your ideas would make it even more meaningful. I pinned your post to my Kids’ Geography Activities Pinterest Board at http://pinterest.com/debchitwood/kids-geography-activities/

  10. Lisa Nelson   squishablebaby

    What a great list Dionna! I don’t think about traveling near – and finding new learning experiences and cultural gems.

    What a great post and a fantastic list of ideas.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. This is a really great list. Traveling far is a financial impossibility for us but we have such great times just walking around the downtowns of nearby towns and cities.

  12. Brenda Dion   noliferehearsals

    Awesome list! I can personally say that the Junior Park Ranger program is the best!

  13. Charise@I Thought I Knew Mama   ithoughtiknewma

    This is such a fantastic list and resource! We do many of these things, but I’m pinning this so I can focus on doing these activities with my family with even more intention.

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