Planning a trip to another country? Want to supplement your kids’ learning through hands-on experiences? Interested in helping your kids experience another culture without leaving the house? Need a great tool for a unit study on China? Then check out the tools available from Culture Agents.
The goal of each “mission” is to “find Xeno and stop the Xenophobes from spreading their culture of fear and ignorance throughout the world.” (Interesting note: xenophobe means fear of strangers, aliens or foreigners, including their customs.)
The mission will be accomplished through participation in activities, on- and off-line. Each “briefcase” comes with a set of instructions, a series of envelopes containing a variety of activities including:
- Live It: Information and activities about Chinese customs and how they differ from ours
- See It: Beijing map and activities
- Taste It: Instructions for setting a proper table and the proper use of chopsticks, plus a chopsticks challenge
- Transport It: Metro map and related activities
- Buy It: Street vendor and supermarket information and activities
- Play It: Sports gear and billiards activities
- Secure It: Rescue mission activity
- Rock It: Culture clubbing and karaoke activities
- Feel It: Final envelope (to be opened last) containing various “wrap-up” and informational tools
The briefcase also contains a word chain, luggage tag, game pieces and “beginner” chopsticks for use in the various activities described in the envelopes.
When I went through the “briefcase” activities with my children, ages 6 and 10, there was initially lots of interest. Each envelope must be opened to reveal the next series of games. The surprise and anticipation were great. However, because each required so much reading, my 6-year-old quickly lost interest. Reading maps, using the word chain to translate words and play the games became too tedious a task for him. He loved the game with chopsticks and game pieces and spent lots of time listening, while sitting across the room playing with his Legos. (Note: The game says it is for kids ages 7-11.) My 10 year-old, however, was able to do all the activities with assistance, albeit fumbling, from me. I am sure that any Chinese speaking person watching us would be dying from laughter as they listened to me attempt to pronounce all the Chinese words. Even with a pronunciation guide, it was comical.
Using a unique code included in the briefcase material, an online portion is available. The online portion includes more activities to supplement and further the learning that takes place during the hands-on activities. It is much like a video or learning game that kids play elsewhere, but it is geared towards teaching kids about the Chinese culture. It does require some of the tools from the briefcase to complete the activities. My 10-year-old enjoyed playing online and the 6-year-old loved watching her play. This part was a great way to get him involved by observation, if nothing else.
Thoughts from a homeschooling Mom: This could be consumed in one day, but I suspect it is best spread out over a series of days, perhaps a week. A unit study basis would be great, adding in other information and requiring some kind of written or oral report about what each child learned by the finish point. Using this as a springboard for the learning trails your family wishes to take, Culture Agents is a terrific tool.
Check out this great tool. I look forward to the future release of other “Missions” in other cultures. Happy learning!
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