No matter where you live, in this day and age, your preschooler will be exposed to people of many different ethnicities and cultures as she grows. She may already have friends or even family members of diverse backgrounds. Although a toddler may not fully understand cultural differences, you can introduce her to the idea by incorporating foods from other cultures.
Have an international dinner night once a week in your home and cook a meal popular from another culture. It should not be foods you regularly make, so taco night doesn’t count if it is a regular part of your dinner routine. Take your toddler to the grocery store with you and tell her what you plan on cooking and from what country it originates. Allow her to help you where she can in the kitchen. Show enthusiasm for the meal to encourage her to try it. If possible, decorate your dinner table to represent the culture of the food you made.
International Friendship Potluck
Invite friends, other parents and family members of different ethnic backgrounds over one day with their kids for an international potluck. Ask everyone to cook a dish native to their culture and bring it to the lunch. Encourage the kids to at least taste everything on the table. During the lunch, adults can share stories about their culture or even bring along special cultural objects to show the kids. Turn the potluck into a party by asking everyone to bring music from their culture so the kids can dance.
Attend Local Cultural Events
Look for advertisements in local newspapers and flyers for local festivals, parades or other events in your area celebrating another culture. Take your toddler to experience the beauty of another culture up close and personal. Skip the hot dog stand and purchase food from vendors selling food from that particular culture for your toddler to taste. Make sure, of course, to taste the food yourself first, just in case it is too spicy for your kid.
Cultural Food Project
Work on a craft project with your preschooler pertaining to foods from different cultures. Make a food collage, cutting out ethnic food pictures from magazines, or assemble a picture cookbook with your toddler. Whenever you make food from a different culture, take a few pictures of the process. Help your toddler create a construction paper book and glue the pictures in the book. Label the dish at the top of the page. If your toddler really enjoyed a particular meal, she may even bring the book to you one day and point to her favorite item for you to make again!
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