by Leanna from All Done Monkey
Looking for a fun DIY summer camp you can do for your neighborhood kids? A world explorers camp is a great way to teach geography skills and expose children to other cultures. Most importantly, you can nurture a love for exploration and a sense of respect and empathy for other ways of life. Through simple crafts and fun activities you can spark curiosity about other cultures and set the foundation for further exploration.
DIY Summer Camp: World Explorers
First you need to decide on the number of children and age range for your camp. This DIY summer camp can be adapted for children from preschool to elementary school age, though the basic structure could also be modified for older children. It is recommended to have no more than 10 students per teacher with an age range of less than 5 years per group. For example, if you have 12-15 children ages 4 – 10, you could split them into two groups, ages approx. 4 – 6 and 7 – 10, with one teacher for each group.
Consider giving children pretend passports to use during the camp, so they can earn a stamp for each country covered during the week.
The schedule for this DIY summer camp is based on a one week summer camp. The idea is to cover one country per day, focusing on a different continent each day. For example, on Monday you could study the Philippines for Asia, etc. (See sample activities and crafts for Costa Rica, Portugal, and South Africa).
We opted to focus on just one country per day as opposed to an entire continent because of time constraints and because the cultures within each continent can be quite different. A country focus also lets you tailor your camp to the group of children you will be teaching by choosing countries meaningful to them, either because of family connections, recent trips, or favorite cartoon/storybook characters. (You may decide to choose a region rather than a country, if it is a coherent cultural area, such as the Andes).
After covering Asia, Europe, Africa, and the Americas Monday through Thursday, Friday is set aside for a world cultures party! Play sports or geography games, listen to music from around the world, and enjoy traditional foods.
The schedule below alternates seated activities with those that allow the children to move around, so they won’t get too restless. You can vary the length of each segment depending on the age and interests of the children.
9 am – 12:00 pm
Opening: Welcome & Introduction 9:00 – 9:30
If you will be breaking into smaller groups, this is a time when all the children can be together. Give a general introduction to the country, ideally with visuals. Teach some basic phrases in a local language and a song they can do some simple movements to. Afterwards break into smaller groups if using.
General Geography Skills 9:30 – 10:00
Teach geoliteracy by introducing a geography skill each day, such as making a map of the backyard or taking a poll of which countries/states the children have visited. You can also relate the activity to the country being studied. For example, you might make a salt dough map of the country or study the habitats of local animals. Use these geography resources for ideas.
Activity 10:00 – 10:30
Next move to something where the children can get out of their seats for more active learning. For younger children, for example, you might set up a scavenger hunt around the room with objects related to the country. Older children can play games such as these to learn about endangered animals. Perhaps you could teach a local dance or play traditional games from that culture.
Craft 10:30 – 11:00
There are many crafts to choose from to learn about other countries, such as dot painting based on aboriginal art, making origami lotus flowers, or building a model of a traditional Mongolia home. Try to choose a craft they can reasonably finish in the allotted time.
Recipe & Story 11:00 – 12:00
Food is one of the most fun ways to explore other cultures with children: you could make coconut oatmeal pudding from Senegal or mango milkshakes from Cuba. Choose a recipe appropriate to the age of the children, and be sure to ask parents ahead of time about any allergies. If needed, you may prep some parts ahead of time so that there is adequate time to finish.
While they are enjoying the finished product (or while you are waiting for it to cook), read them a story related to the country, such as one of these from Japan or from Costa Rica. Spark discussion with these questions for critical thinking.
The most important thing is to encourage empathy for other ways of life and a sense of wonder about the beauty and variety of cultures around the world, so have fun and enjoy exploring!
Leanna is a stay at home mother to two boys and their adorable baby sister. She draws inspiration from the Writings of the Bahá’í Faith and tries to raise her Monkeys in a fun, spiritual, loving environment. She and her husband, who is from Costa Rica, are raising their boys to be bilingual and bicultural but more importantly to be “world citizens.” All Done Monkey is dedicated to sharing this journey with you! Leanna is the co-founder of Bahá’í Mom Blogs and founder of Multicultural Kid Blogs.