Teaching the Global ABCs

by kangabunnie / Mar 27, 2012 / 2 comments

As a Preschool teacher, one of my favorite things to do with my class was geography.  You read that right.  2, 3, and 4 year olds are so much smarter then most people give them credit for.  Those of you who are parents know that a typical Pre-K curriculum will include things like crafts, coloring, and letters of the week.  Well, I certainly did those things in my classroom - I just added a little twist. 


Today's American children (in my humble opinion) are lacking in cultural diversity and even basic knowledge of geography or even continental and oceanic awareness.  Most adult Americans can't name all the oceans, six in ten were not able to find Iraq on a map of the Middle East, and one out of three can't find Louisiana on a map of the USA.   More then a quarter of adults don't even know which country America gained it's independence from.  Americans don't tend to travel as much as other nations, or speak foreign languages fluently.  So why not start as young as possible to get kids involved and excited about other cultures?  Cultural awareness will not only benefit our children, but also our country - it will help children see things from other points of view, think “outside the box” and use other perspectives.  Nationally, this can build relationships with other countries, and help our nation grow economically as we improve our international friendships. 


Many people think you can't start children learning maps, globes, and intercultural awareness so young.


Map blanket



I would advise them to try it.  My kids were so excited to learn - and you can start in the most simple ways.  If your letter of the week is A, for example - A is for Apple, Ant, and Albania.  Find Albania on a map. Learn 3 “fun facts” about the country (Perhaps the capital, language, and an animal that lives there or a food that they are famous for).  Print out a simple map, and color it in.  What continent is Albania on?  You get the idea.  You can easily fill 5 days of activities - but only choose one country per letter - you don't want to overwhelm the kids.  My suggestion is an AM activity and a PM activity that is related, just like you would do with any other subject.


classroom activities



There are many ways you can incorporate culture into your youngster's daily routine - it's worth the effort, and you will both have fun learning and discovering together. 



Samantha Feuss, the Global Early Childhood Education Editor for Wandering Educators, publishes Happy Sippy, Will Travel.  She is a freelance writer,  Pre-School teacher, adoptive and biological mother, and is actively involved with animal and human rights groups.

Comments (2)

  • Lisa Niver

    10 years 10 months ago


    Great article. Love the blanket with the world map on it.

    Thanks for sharing your teaching stories. I appreciate hearing how others incorporate the world into the classroom!


    Lisa Niver Rajna

    We Said Go Travel (www.wesaidgotravel.com)

    Passport to a Global Community: Travel, Education, Inspiration

  • Megan Aronson

    10 years 10 months ago

    Really enjoyed your perspective in this article. My daughter is 4 years old and attends a Montessori school where thankfully, there is wonderful focus placed on "Cultural Studies." I agree that there simply can't be enough of this exposure to other cultures at a young age. Like you said, our little ones are smarter then we think, and absorb deeply what they are taught at this age. Why not instill that love of travel, and exploring other countries and cultures, at age 2, 3, 4, and 5? Keep up the good work, and let me know if you're ever want a teaching a job in Arizona so I can send you to our school! ;) 

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