A first cultural awareness for parents and children at the Learning Tree is a social evening with a dinner. The parents share their own cultural back-grounds. They discuss how the customs and lifestyles of their present family compare to that of their family when they were children.
The discussions help parents understand the great influence the culture of their parents had on their values and the cultural changes they have made as parents.
The parents share food they enjoyed as children and discuss how the present American culture affects their children.
When children learn to love and to respect each other, the attitudes of the parents are also influenced. A related goal of cultural awareness is that through studying the contributions of American cultures, the children will develop an appreciation and understanding of their own culture.
The suggestions for learning about the American cultures include authentic information to the extent this can be determined—information that provides the child with a realistic picture of that culture.
The customs of the Asian cultures are very different from the ways American children live. They delight in imitating them. To pretend to be a Chinese woman on the way to the buraku, to build a junk for fishing or to dive for pearls in the Ise Bay, are dramatized by children at the Learning Tree. Asian cultures, as described in this article, are mainly that of China and Japan. However, the concepts and ideas can be extended to all cultures of the Far East. Young children of Japanese and Chinese cultural backgrounds can identify with, and appreciate their own cultural heritage.
Appreciate their own cultural heritage. Young children of other cultures become familiar with another way of living.
Some Asian homes have roofs made of tile and others have thatched roofs. The inside walls of the traditional Japanese homes are sliding doors made of paper.
A room with paper walls can be constructed by attaching one end of a 36″ wide roll of butcher paper to one wall.
Stretch the paper across the room, around a card table or chair, and attach to another wall to make an enclosure. Children cut doors in the paper wall.
In the family center, include low tables, pillows and tatamis on the floor. Children and adults take off shoes before entering this area. In the center of the area, children can make a square fire pit by placing bricks in a one-foot square.
Gardens Most Asian homes include gardens which are created with plants, rocks, statues and pools. These gardens are considered works of art. Children select a place out-of-doors to create a garden. They select rocks, small trees or bushes and add a container of water placed in a shallow hole prepared by children. Add wind bells to the garden scene. Child cuts six twelve-inch strings. Tie one end of each string to a bell. Tie the other end of the string to a coat hanger, one inch apart and hang in a gentle wind.
Bonsai or tray planting is an art that started in Japan. Children imitate the Bonsai method by planting small plants in shallow containers.