Summer vacation is halfway over for most kids, which means that daily trips to the pool might have lost a bit of their novelty. If you're looking for enriching family activities, now is a great time to take some summer vacation favorites and add a cultural twist. We've rounded up eight ideas that will add some multicultural fun to your family's summer break!
This one might be obvious since for many families, summer vacation = family trips. In fact, our recent Instagram poll had 85% of responders saying they travel during the summer. Whether you're hitting the road or flying overseas, traveling is a great way to explore new cultures or strengthen your children's relationships with their own.
So, if you're heading out of town, see if your itinerary will include any of the following:
Family-Friendly Local Cuisine
Quite Days - so you can enjoy the local culture at your leisure
Crafts are a great way to have hands-on family activities while creating art to decorate your home. Thanks to Pinterest, a whole world of crafts for kids is cataloged for your family to explore. If you're not sure where to start, we searched "cultural kid crafts" and found a lot of easy craft ideas inspired by cultures around the world.
You can also search for kid crafts based on a specific culture or holiday. We're trying to teach our kids more about their Japanese heritage and have done crafts with them like:
Hinamatsuri Coloring Pages
Maneki-Neko Playdough Sculptures
While simple crafts are best for our kids, you can also search for more advanced projects depending on the interest and skill levels of your kids.
A great way to beat the heat is to visit local museums. Your kids will be able to explore different cultures and visual art styles from the comfort of an air-conditioned venue. Another bonus is that museums often have limited points of entry and a guided flow of traffic, so it's easier to keep track of the whole family.
Some of our favorite museums to explore with kids in tow are:
Touring Exhibits - these can be found in locations like your local mall or art gallery
Interactive Museums (one of our favorite family activities!)
Local History Museums and Historical Sites
4. Screen Time
While we may want our kids to spend their summer vacation days screen-free, it's nice for parents to have a break from a household of energetic kids. In fact, there are a lot of great apps that are culturally educational and entertaining. We've found apps that include language games, cultural storybooks, and geographic fact finders.
There are also great options on streaming services and youtube for sing-alongs around the world and culturally-based cartoons. A lot of popular children's shows include episodes featuring cultural awareness and appreciation.
Summer was made for festivals, carnivals, and fairs. We've loved seeing the recent increase in international festivals where craftspeople, food stands, and artists sell culturally specific items. Because festivals appeal to all five senses, it becomes a fun and immersive educational experience. The added bonus of authenticity is also a huge plus!
It's a good idea to visit official websites before attending any of these festivals so you can check on attending vendors, performance times, and parking locations/fees.
These are also great locations to learn about other cultural events. Ask vendors and event coordinators what other activities they participate in throughout the year so you can be sure to attend and support your local cultural communities.
If you have a family of readers, the library is a weekly trip to keep summer vacation from feeling too drawn out. Before your next library visit, take the time to search their catalog for cultural titles. You might be surprised at the variety of cultural options your local library carries. And if there's a title you can't find in their system, most libraries also have the option to request books via interlibrary loans or purchases.
There's something for everyone at the library, so try checking out different genres (we promise they'll be more exciting reads than history books):
How-to Craft & Hobby Books (origami, zen gardening, etc.)
Cultural Folktale Picture Books
Nonfiction Children's Books - these can be a mix of photography or illustrated books
Biographies of Cultural Leaders
Ethnic Recipe Books
Geographic Photography Books
The best part is if you put them on hold beforehand, they'll be available for pick up.
Kids may have a lot of free time during summer break, but parents are just as busy as ever!
Take advantage of your kids' downtime and have them help choose some new ethnic restaurants to visit. Not only will this give you one less meal to plan, but it will also allow your family to explore new flavors.
Most restaurants will post their menu on their website, so you and your kids can decide on what you'll order before you leave the house (this is especially helpful to know what's in each dish if you have picky eaters).
Whether it's a bakery, diner, or takeout, another bonus to eating at a cultural restaurant is that these restaurants are often family-owned, so you'll also be supporting small local businesses.
8. Family Gatherings
The best way to celebrate your family's culture is by having family gatherings. Whether it's a family reunion, Sunday dinner, or FaceTime chat, helping your children learn more about their family members on a personal level will help them with their own developing identities.
If you aren't able to spend face-to-face time with everyone, you can bring back the pen pal system with family members and have them write letters to each other during the break. This is a family fun activity that both older and younger generations will appreciate. After all, who doesn't like to receive fun mail?
At family gatherings, encourage elders in the family to share their favorite:
Summer Vacation from Their Childhood
Way to Keep Cool in the Summer
Seasonal Summer Foods - bonus points if they have a recipe to taste test
There are lots of ways kids can spend their summer vacation, but by tweaking some of the things they're already doing, these family activities will add culture to their summer break! If there are other ways your family celebrates their culture during the summer, send us a message.