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You Can… use the outdoors to explore differences

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By Rose Joyceauthor

Young children are assailed by many different views and interpretations of the world. It is very difficult for children to accommodate and make sense of them all. We can help them relate often abstract ideas to their own experiences of the world by presenting these ideas in a practical way. Play gives children time to reflect and organise their thoughts and start to make sense of their world and its different cultures and belief systems

Tips, ideas and activities

  • Tell the children you are all travelling into space as you have been invited to a meal with the aliens who live behind the silver screen. Consider: What will they give us to eat? Talk about the need to accept that different people eat different things. How will we accept the aliens’ hospitality even though we might not like the food or drink they offer us? Maybe we can taste a little and say, ‘Tank you, that was delicious’. Talk about how the aliens would feel if you said, ‘Ugh! That was disgusting’.
  • Organise an exotic fruit party outside where the children try lots of different fruits. Encourage them to describe the taste and say whether they like it.
  • When learning about festivals such as Divali, Chinese New Year, Eid, Easter and Christmas, it is useful to base the discussion on themes common to all of the celebrations: people send cards; they get new clothes; they visit a special place to pray; they eat special food; they visit family and friends and give presents. Children can relate new information about other cultures and beliefs to their own knowledge of festivals.
  • Celebrate the differences that present themselves within your group: skin colour, eye colour and go on.
  • Have a look at the NIPPA website. This early years organisation in Northern Ireland provides information and training for parents, childcare providers and local authorities.

Thinking points

  • Your views might not be the same as those heard and expressed in a child’s home. Try to make sure that the child in no way feels compromised by this difference. it might be worth talking to parents and carers individually if a potential conflict arises. It is often best to keep discussions at a professional level and concentrate on what the government directives prescribe for all young children, rather than getting bogged down with personal viewpoints.
  • Have a close look at your resources. Do they reflect the variety of cultures in your setting/school/local community? Are your resources a true reflection of the cultures they are aiming to represent? Are the images modern?

This article was taken from Rose Joyce’s fantastic book “You Can Create an Outdoor Classroom“http://shop.scholastic.co.uk/products/1487

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