It’s important for children to learn how to appreciate other cultures when they’re young, so they grow up without prejudices and accept others from a variety of cultural backgrounds. Because most children are drawn to art and colorful imagery, sometimes the best way to introduce children to new cultures is to show them the art that came from these unique groups of people.
To help your own kids understand the beauty and inspiration present in cultural art, try out the following educational, engaging and family-friendly activities.
1. Visit a museum
There are plenty of museums across the country devoted to cultural art, from the Smithsonian’s National Museum for African Art in Washington, D.C., to the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach, Calif. Families can explore these museums together to discover the rich histories, values and lifestyles of different cultures as represented by their original artworks. If your own family has a cultural heritage you would like to uncover, or if your community is predominantly made up of a specific culture, try choosing a museum that features art from those cultures.
2. Learn from home
We’re lucky to live in an age where quality educational materials can be made accessible via virtually any technological device, from televisions to computers to smartphones. If you can’t make it out to a museum, engage in an educational activity at home by exploring online resources devoted to cultural art. The Chickasaw tribe of Oklahoma, for example, features an online TV station with many videos that showcase the tribe’s art and talents. The is an excellent resource for learning about Native American art from both historical and contemporary perspectives. You can also find art galleries online featuring art from countries and cultures around the world.
3. Create cultural art yourself
For a more interactive cultural activity, encourage your children to create cultural art themselves to more closely identify with the people behind the art. One fun project is to make a didgeridoo in honor of the Aboriginal people of Australia. A didgeridoo is a long wooden instrument that sounds like a warbling trumpet and can be recreated by simply using PVC pipe or even wrapping paper tubes.
One creative third-grade teacher taught her students how to create Japanese shibori art, which involves a process similar to tie-dying, where patterns are made by binding and clamping cloth before dying. This is an easy DIY project that comes with fascinating cultural significance, down to the meaning behind shibori’s traditional use of blue dye.
What can children learn about other cultures through their artwork? Art has a way of revealing a very humanizing depth to the culture it represents, which is important for reaching out to those who may feel far removed from cultures outside of their own. For children especially, cultural art can be a more engaging way to visualize the struggles, triumphs and unique characteristics of other cultures that aren’t as easy to communicate without pictures or physical objects.
Image courtesy of bubbo.etsy.com