start with your place in the world

"Not all those wander are lost."

I grew up surrounded by maps because my parents were in the travel business.  So my obsession with maps comes to me honestly.  Put me in front of one and you'll lose me for longer than usually makes sense.  (It's like when looking at a dictionary you end up getting distracted by all these other wonderful words). And don't bother giving me directions. Just hand me a map and I'll get there.

I think it's why I abhor GPS's even as i admire their indisputable utility. It diminishes one's natural directional instinct until you have no gut feeling about where you're headed and how you might still get there even if you take a wrong turn.

But beyond the daily value of maps for their navigational value, maps  I want my kids to love maps like I do because they open up their minds to all the parts of the world that aren't theirs.  They subtly and effectively educate as they entertain.

So when it comes down to how to begin introducing kids to all of the wonderful cultures and countries of the world, I can't think of a better starting point than maps.

For this week's culturally curious theme, we'll show you how you can start bringing the world to your kids with a simple world map or globe .


What you need

World Map: We really like this simple but detailed Rand McNally world map (get it on Amazon here). No need to water down the world with overly “kidified” or simplistic maps. Let them get a sense for the complexity and then make it accessible.

Stickers. Either the basic dots or these fancier stars work well.

Optional: 
Follow That Map!  This wonderful book introduces all sorts of different types of maps to kids in a fun and approachable way.  Starting from a kid's neighborhood and progressively getting further away, this books covers a diverse set of maps, from topographical to weather.

Get the whole kit (map, stickers and book, plus bonus activities) here with free shipping.

Looking for something that your child's caregiver can do with them?  Our Deluxe Caregiver Kits include the above materials, but also provides a guided learning and exploration plan for 10 in-depth activities.  Just share the kit with your nanny or babysitter and they'll have everything they need to lead your kids on a fun, culturally educational adventure.  Check out an example lesson plan here.  And get this deluxe kit here.


Activities

1) My place in the world - A large world map can be an overwhelming, intimidating thing. Introduce to your child in a simple, accessible way.  First, place it in an area that your child often plays in, at their eye level.  Next start by putting a sticker where you live.  Then add stickers to the places other relatives may live (maybe out of state aunts/uncles or grandparents).  Finally, put stickers in the places that you or family members may have lived in the past.  If your family has relatives in other countries, add them too!  Soon you'll be able to see all the wonderful places your family's from.

2) Where in the world - For this activity, pick a different theme each time.  For example, one time it might be animals or another time it might be hats or breads.  Select 10 items and ask your child where they think that item is from.  A sample set for animals would be: panda, moose, kangaroo, giraffe, cobra, killer whale etc.  Soon they'll be able to understand that even though bread looks and tastes different everywhere, it's essentially the same thing.

(Our curated kits include different lists so you don't have to worry about thinking up new ideas.)

3) Global fingerprints - This is one of my personal favorites.  Each time you or your child has a guest over, have them put a sticker on the place they're from.  Or perhaps where their grandparents are from.  If you have a inkpad, instead of stickers you can do finger prints.  Write their names underneath and soon your map will be filled will people whose roots span the globe.