Canada is known worldwide for being a multicultural society. For the most part, Canadians grow up embracing, respecting, or at least tolerating the diversity of their nation. Multiculturalism is a key aspect of what makes Canada such a warm and welcoming place. And the Canadian government encourages learning about the diversity of the country. Recognizing the value in teaching our kids about multiculturalism may be important in raising citizens who treat everyone equally. So here are 5 great activities you can use to teach kids about multiculturalism:
1. How do you say “hello”?
A simple activity to start with. Get your students to share with the class how the say “hello” in their respective languages, or their parents’ languages (if English is their first language). Then you can make small posters with each greeting and practice a different greeting every week! You could even expand this activity by teaching kids simple but meaningful words like “friend” and “thanks” in other languages that kids (or their families) speak in the class.
2. ‘Learn about a country’ day
This activity would be based on the countries represented in your classroom. You could choose a country once a month and dedicate a portion of the school day (or the whole day) learning about it. You can ask the student(s) from that country (or background) to help you prepare the day. The ideas are limitless: music, food samples, traditional dress, popular games around the world, songs, guest speakers, holiday decorations and crafts, etc.
For example, see these articles on our blog that incorporate cultural learning into lessons or activities:
- Focused art lesson: making lanterns as an educational craft
- Focused learning: the history of tea and the science behind it
- Focused history lesson: teaching kids about Stonehenge
We also wrote about how you can find educational activities on Pinterest. See this link for more:
3. Explore skin color diversity
Racheous.com has a number of great activities to explore this topic. You can use paint sample cards, cut a circle in the middle and get kids to match their skin tones. You can make puppets using the leftover circles from the paint cards. Ourtimetolearn.com explains that color exploration with paint cards teaches kids that “everyone’s skin is a different shade of the same color.”
In this activity it’s important to emphasize that you’re not trying to get kids to pay attention to differences, but to the fact that differences in skin colour don’t matter. Inclusivity is key here. Use the ‘skin colour’ talk to start conversations with the class about what their colour means to them, and the friendships they create in their lives.
4. Around the world through books
Kcedventures.com has a selection of 30 books that explore cities and countries around the world. Jaquie Fisher, explains that she chose these books because they were written in modern times and a number of them were written from the perspective of children. You could choose books based on the cultural diversity of your classroom. You could read the book to your students in class. Or you can assign kids a reading at home, then create activities based on the themes presented in the chosen book(s).
5. Create continent boxes
This Montessori-inspired multicultural activity gets kids to collect things like pictures or photographs, maps, cultural objects, animals, flags, stamps and anything else that is typical of a particular continent. The boxes (plastic containers would do but you can get fancy!), can be made at the end of the study of a particular continent. It could almost be viewed as a souvenir the kids get to keep after learning about the continent.
These are just a few activities you could do to teach kids about multiculturalism. Here are a few more links for you to explore:
- Lesson plans on multiculturalism and diversity by Scholastic
- Multicultural Education games, lesson plans, and presentations
- 14 fun multicultural educational activities
Multiculturalism can be fun, interesting, and a very valuable subject to teach kids of all ages!
Plus, see these posts on related teaching resources and topics:
- Ideas on teaching religious tolerance to kids
- Teaching young children about maps to help their learning development
- Teaching students how to navigate without a GPS
- Why should kids learn geography, and how can you help them do so?