Often times parents and teachers feel preschoolers are too young to understand cultural differences and it would be a waste of time and effort to teach them about different people, religions, languages etc. However, experts agree that it is healthy to teach three and four year olds about the different types of people across the world and in their classroom to build a foundation on tolerance.
A preschool learning activity that revolves around learning about different cultures needs to be simple enough for the kids to absorb and take back something with them. Even though it is not allowed to teach religion in American public schools, you can teach about religion so teachers should not be afraid to mention synagogues or mosques along with churches.
Find out if there is a child in the class who hails from a different ethnic background and ask the parent if they would like to come and talk about an upcoming holiday for instance. Jewish students can have their parents talk about Hanukkah and the Hindu students can share the festival of Diwali. A few pictures of the children celebrating the holidays serve as excellent visual aids since the other kids in the classroom can recognize some faces. One or two propos and perhaps a short movie or a book can make the preschool learning activity more memorable for the class.
Children can then busy themselves in a hands-on preschool learning activity related to the culture in question. They could make date cookies for the Muslim holiday Ramadan or they could make a take home goody bag of ethnic treats as long as no one is allergic to any ingredient or material. A popular idea is to write the kids name in a different language for them to take home. It never fails to fascinate people to see their name written differently, sometimes even from right to left as in some cases.
A preschool learning activity need not be very intricately planned out minute by minute because preschoolers are very antsy and you may need to change plans impromptu. However, it should be something that is at least roughly planned out in advance.
Different national celebrations can also be part of a preschool learning activity. Learning how to make the flag of Japan for instance is very simple; so your options are far from limited. Evaluate what your class likes to do best; is it stories that engage them or is it cutting and play dough? Then work around that to create meaningful preschool learning activities that teach about different cultures. After all, it’s never to early – or too late – to learn tolerance.