Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Try The World

Before we had children, my husband and me traveled as often as we could. Now with less income, more expenses - and oh yes - 3 more airline tickets to pay for, traveling abroad won't happen for a while.

A box every 2 months gives a glimpse into another culture.

A German saying goes "love goes through the stomach", and with that in mind we recently signed up for the Try The World food subscription service. Food seems the perfect setting to encourage our kids to fall in love with a world they will hopefully get to travel one day. Every 2 months we receive a box with 6-7 foods from a new country. But we don't just use the recipes and tips on the Try The World website to plan a 3-course meal with a couple of new foods. Rather, we invite some friends and their kids, and each person contributes to an evening exploring the culture, stories and customs of the land from our box.

Our Japan box contained ingredients and recipes for a three course dinner.

Here some activities to enhance your virtual traveling:

Go to the library: To get everyone excited about our new country, we first get a couple of books from the library. Country guides, history books, or local folk tales are a good start. My kids were never interested in such books before, but with a country to focus on they really get into it. We have a few lay out during dinner to look at pictures and read out stories.

Color the flag: The Queen's favorite activity, since she cannot read on her own yet. But she likes learning what each part of the flag means.

Color traditional clothing: Another activity for pre-readers. An easy way to learn about gauchos, geishas or toreros.

Look up endemic animals: Flying squirrels, capybara, snow monkey ... Mr. Entropy likes animal non-fiction books (his words, not mine), so he looks up unusual (or just lesser known) animals in his encyclopedia or on Wikipedia.

Make a slide show of landmarks and historic sites: Wiki Commons can help you pretend you are showing our own vacation pictures.

Look up YouTube videos: Carnevale in Rio, a Sumo wrestler's diet, Run of the Bulls, La Tomatina - mini-documentaries with enough fun factor to keep the kids entertained and excited between courses.

Write a history timeline: Did you know that 100 years ago Argentina used to be the 7th richest economy in the world? That Southern Spain used to be ruled by Arab tribes? What's the difference between a ninja and a samurai? Time to find out!

Find weird facts: Weird for us anyway. In the Southern hemisphere it is perfectly normal to start your school year in February and your summer vacation in December.

Listen to the music: Try The World provides a Spotify playlist with traditional and contemporary music. Add the national anthem for extra flair.
No tables for Japanese-style dining.
Rearrange the dining room: Traditional Japanese housing does not include tables. So we ate on a picnic blanket on the floor and hung paper lanterns all around us.

Watch the movies: The Try The World cultural guide comes with a list of notable local movies. With some luck, Netflix has them in stock as DVD.

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