I am knee deep in reading a book called The Absorbent Mind by Maria Montessori. Here is a section that I read last night: “Is the child’s mental horizon limited to what he sees? No. He has a type of mind that goes beyond the concrete. He has the great power of imagination…We often forget that imagination is a force for the discovery of truth. The mind is not a passive thing, but a devouring flame, never in repose, always in action.” Wow, right?
This week’s theme for the MemeTales & PBSKids Summer Readathon is Global Culture. This quote, yes, it is about imagination but it is much greater than that alone. Children are capable of so very much. Their imagination is a vessel that drives their learning and their desire to explore the world, all of it. Even if we can’t get on an airplane and travel the world with our children to expose them to other cultures, we can nurture their imagination and provide them with outlets to let it run wild.
This week we read TWO amazing books by Chris Lin. These books, which are FREE this week by the way, are near and dear to my heart because our sons take Mandarin. So, we are always looking for effective and fun books to help our young children learn about China because, well, China is pretty far from Seattle and being from New England, you could say my husband and I aren’t native speakers. Mandy and Pandy say “Ni Hao Ma?” is a great introduction to basic Chinese vocabulary while Mandy and Pandy Visit China ignited my son’s imagination as he could be a part of this trip to Asia.
Our activity for this week was organic and came to be called “Story in a Box”. I called it organic because that is how it happened for us but I plan to create “story in a box” ahead of time going forward because it is so simple. You may have read my “Tell a Story with a Bag” and this activity is similar.
As we read Mandy and Pandy Visit China, my son excitedly scurried over to his small wooden airplane, grabbed a few panda bear figurines on the way, snagged an image from out ‘children from around the world’ card set, retrieved his small world map and pictures of the great wall of China. Basically my son and his lively imagination took the ride with Chris Lin and Lin’s loving and endearing characters Mandy and Pandy. Our son was thrilled to be a part, he felt like he was traveling with them. I love books like this one because being a part of the story is simple.
We parents and educators can easily set up a “story telling box” that goes along with the journey set out in a book. Integrating themes of Global Culture blend nicely into this idea with imagination playing the key role in exposing our children to the world. As the characters reach certain parts of the story, or of the world in this case, the child can very concretely be a part of the exercise by reaching into the box, pulling a panda bear or a card with an image of the Great Wall of China or by pointing to an image in China on a World Map. So, if we can set up the environment, we then allow our children to run with it.
As a final note, at the start of this journey with Memetales several weeks ago, I was excited to see that the theme for the final week of the Readathon is Global Culture. My son’s take Mandarin class and we try very hard to integrate global culture and mandarin into our home. One easy way to integrate language and culture is with a simple “language and culture basket” placed in a play space. We have had great fun learning about Irish culture and Mexican culture too. When we can’t simply hop on a plane and tour the world (wouldn’t that be nice?), we like to do activities that take us around the world. Here is a post on an activity we did that took us around the world THREE times in one afternoon. Although we would love to see the rainforests of central America and the deserts of Africa, sometimes the option is to learn about these parts of the world from our own home.
I was honored to be a part of the Memetales and PBSKids Summer Readathon. Nearly 80,000 books read by children ALL OVER THE WORLD and 7,000 meals served to children in need. What an awe inspiring effort by 12 publishers and 24 bloggers. I can’t wait to see what they offer next summer!
Thank you for choosing to read this post today. I hope that we inspired you.
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