Learning occurs best when it’s interactive. Bring hands-on, cross-curricular activities to every preschool classroom learning center. Make an easy, diy multi-cultural house for the preschool practical life area that ‘travels’ around the world. When my preschool VBS class was studying different cultures, I simulated a native American Indian longhouse, Japanese house, tribal African grass hut, Middle Eastern caravan tent and various Asian dwellings.
I designed this multi-cultural play house idea, for a Vacation Bible School preschool classroom. We ‘traveled’ around the world to ‘visit’ different saints and people in other lands. We visited Peter Claver in Cartegna, Columbia, St. Martin de Porres in Peru, Blessed Kateri Tekakwitha in her Algonquin village, Mother Theresa of Calcutta, India and St. Francis Xavier in Japan. We began with a basic cardboard refrigerator box cut open to make a free standing ‘house’. By placing it around the corner of a classroom, you can make a roomy, enclosed play area. The outside design is basic, so it can change to reflect the different cultures you will study.
For a tribal African grass hut, draw mud or adobe bricks with brown marker. You can also create a brick design by dipping a large cellulose sponge in brown paint. Stamp or print a brick design by making brown paint rectangles on the edge of the house. Hang strips of yellow and orange crepe paper streamers along the top edge of the house to resemble a grass or thatched roof. Cut a doorway and hang a brightly colored towel or scrap of cloth for a doorway.
For a native American Indian long house, print Native American stencils and hieroglyphic tracings for childen to copy and draw. Click here for Native American Indian pattern templates and designs. Allow children to create murals on the side. These native American designs are primarily from the Pacific Northwest Indians. Typical native themes include the eagle, beaver, salmon, moose, bear, otter and turtle. These Native American designs make excellent drawing practice opportunities as the pictures are linear and simple, yet representational and fun to draw. For an Eskimo or Aleutian home, print the brick design with white paint to resemble an igloo.
For a Middle Eastern tent house, drape the walls with brightly colored fabric. Hang beads or bells in the doorway. You can always drape sheets over the cardboard structure if you don’t wish to paint the outside.
Inside the house, place an assortment of baby dolls in various skin tones. I collected dolls from every race and color and put them in the play house to be cared for by loving little children. This lesson plan works well with preschool, ECSE, early childhood, PPI, special needs and all lower elementary classrooms. Our preschool classroom often saw much older kids ‘stopping by’ to visit our ‘around the world’ play house.