We all have a heritage. Most of us can look back only a few generations and find relatives who have travelled far and wide with the hopes to start a new life here in the land we call America.
What’s your story? Have you shared it with your children?
It’s no secret to my children that they have Dutch and German backgrounds. It seeps out into the cooking. My children have become fond Dutch oliebollen, a fried, donut smothered in powdered sugar. Generally, we ring in the new year with this decadent treat. The German is from my husband’s side which is revealed once in awhile when we break out the Spätzle maker and start making this tasty, German pasta.
Many families have cultural traditions, usually food related, but why not go a step further and immerse your children in the cultures of their heritage by creating a unit study, (or two!).
I used to cringe at the idea of unit studies. Seriously. I was so set on my curriculum. I had to make sure we get through it in a year that the thought of taking a break and studying something different was not an option. Once I tried it though, and saw how well my kids took to the change of pace, I was hooked. We took a week off of our “regular” science and did a maple syrup unit study before taking a trip to Grandpa’s to tap, boil and bottle some syrup. Since they were able to see first hand what they learned about in a practical way, I have decided not to shy away from these experiences.
Creating a unit study doesn’t have to be intimidating. Though it might sound like it, it can be done successfully. With some determination and the use of the vast resources found on the internet, your kids can know more about a topic than we ever did at their age!
Try sharing your heritage through a unit study. Sit down and formulate a plan to study the country in a week, a month, or a six week time frame.
Scour your local libraries and the internet for the following:
Find age appropriate crafts that relate to your country. Choose ones that utilize a variety of mediums.
Use a fiction book (or books) with the setting of your country as a read aloud each morning. Read a chapter or two a day to bring some excitement and creativity into the lesson.
Be sure to point out important historical events from your country’s history and your family’s history. For example, my family was directly affected by some of the horrors of WWII. Sharing the tragic events of my family’s experience hiding Jews on their farm and enduring the concentration camps, isn’t easy to share. My relative who survived the camp never spoke of her experience until her deathbed. At this point she said she needed to share her story so the younger generations will never forget. I am determined to make sure her story gets passed on to my children.
Experiment with family recipes or try new ones. Whether it’s desserts, main dishes or tasty drinks, your kids will love that you’re changing things up a bit in the kitchen.
Most libraries carry travel videos for a wide range of countries, or you can find travel agent videos quite readily on the internet.
Have your children become familiar with at least one artist from your country. Study his background and popular works. If your kids are into art, have them create a copy of their favorite piece by that artist.
Search for a missionary that has either been sent out from your country or has done work within that country. If they are no longer living, find one powerful story to share with your children about their lives. If they are living, see if you can interview them.
Sample Unit Study – Holland
I have shared some sample resources for a Holland Unit Study below:
Historical Event: The Holocaust