We just read the classic The Story About Ping by MarjorieFlack. It’s about a duck named Ping who lives in a riverboat on the Yangtze River. He almost becomes one family’s dinner when he gets lost one day but finds his way back home to his family.
Good books can take us to distant times and places. The week before Chinese New Year, Little T and I went to China with Ping. Here are seven ways we traveled without leaving home.
1. Make a passport
I downloaded a World Traveler passport from a Five in a Row coop’s site and stamped the date of our arrival to China after deplaning from our pretend airplane. You can easily make your own passport with just Microsoft Word and some images, though just downloading one is much easier!
2. Locate your destination on a map
Locate the country on a map or an atlas. This is just to give your young child the idea that the world is large and that there are lots of places to visit and learn from. It is also a good introduction to the use of maps.
We put Ping’s picture on China and Little T’s on the Philippine islands.
3. Dress in the country’s national costume
We rummaged through our Costume Box and found two Chinese dresses. Though a little short on Little T already, the cheongsams helped us identify with the people and their clothes as illustrated in the book.
4. Try the country’s cuisine… or at least a rough version of it
Filipino food being heavily influenced by Chinese cuisine, it was easy to come up with a Chinese dish. We practiced using chopsticks while eating the ubiquitous pancit or noodles.
For easy-to-make practice chopsticks, put a piece of paper between two chopsticks and tie with a rubber band. Voila!
5. Learn some phrases
To be able to thank the Chinese for their hospitality during our (pretend) visit, we practiced saying “Xie xie” or “Thank you.” For Little T’s grandparents, we practiced saying “Wo ai ni” or “I love you.” Language lessons courtesy of Little T’s dad.
6. Listen to the country’s music
To soak in some more Chinese culture, we listened to a selection of Chinese music from our Kindermusik collection. We especially like The Cantonese Lullaby, but many songs can be Google searched such as:
7. Make the country’s flag
Flags are part of a country’s identity. Last year, we made a Philippine flag for Independence Day. This time, we made a replica of the Chinese flag we copied from our atlas.
With these activities, geography and culture are easily and painlessly learned. For an actual trip, these are perfect ways to prepare your child to experience a new place.