By: Kennedy Schultz
Helping kids learn about the world can be an exciting adventure for both adults and kids. When I teach about the chateaux of the Loire Valley in France or ancient Mayan sites in Mexico, I’m always looking for kid-friendly resources that can provide accurate information and engaging authentic pictures that hold the attention of little ones.
Virtual Field Trips
Since my field trip budget is pretty limited, I especially love websites that offer virtual tours and live webcams to show kids what it REALLY looks like in another world location. Many famous museums such as the Louvre offer 360 degree tours of their collections. The Eiffel Tower site shows a panoramic birds-eye view of Paris—with the city taking center stage rather than the traditional image of the Tower itself dominating the horizon. Engaging images help kids relate to the new culture and make comparisons with their own. The Google Art Project also gives virtual field trips to prominent art museums around the world.
Live web cams are another great cultural resource. When teaching about Neuschwanstein Castle in Germany, I asked the class if they wanted to see a live picture of the castle. When we connected to the Neuschwanstein Castle webcam site, they wondered why it appeared to be nighttime. Wasn’t it only 3pm? The webcam illustrated the 6 hour time difference better than I could ever have explained it with words!
We have also found web cams of the storks roosting on roof tops in Rust, Austria, and have shared our own local webcams of Niagara Falls with our pen-pal classrooms in other countries to give them an idea of our region.
Organizing Teacher Resources
With all these cool resources, how do you keep track of them and retrieve them when needed?
One tool I discovered is a free site called Symbaloo. Since I teach multiple languages each year, having a system to organize cultural resources helps me save time and energy—which I’ll certainly need when teaching little ones! Symbaloo allows a user to bookmark websites in color-coded tiles and organize them for later reference. Similar to Pinterest, each tile links to a web page. On my Symbaloo mix, I have color-coded tiles for each language I teach so I can identify at a glance the most appropriate resources for any given lesson.
Feel free to check out my Symbaloo page on world cultures and suggest any of your favorite resources!
Kennedy Schultz is a French teacher and the founder of Exploraworld, a program that introduces languages and cultures to kids ages 5-11, including French, Spanish, Italian, Mandarin, and German!