It’s time again for my monthly post for “Around the World in 12 Dishes,” the series in which each month participating bloggers travel the world with their kids by cooking a dish from another country and perhaps reading a book, doing a craft, or learning fun facts about it. This month we travel to Saudi Arabia!
We are behind in cooking our dish, but we have been having a lot of fun learning about Saudi Arabia in the meantime!
Learning About Culture Through Play
Monkey and I love to read together, but I’ve also found that he really enjoys (and ultimately retains information better) when we do hands-on activities. For a Westerner, one of the most striking aspects about Saudi culture is dress. And since kids love to play dress up, I realized this would be a great window into Saudi culture and a way for Monkey to really imagine what life there might be like. Read about traditional Saudi dress.
I found an old long-sleeved work shirt of mine, which was so long on Monkey it mimicked the flowing thawb worn by Saudi men. I used a white pillow case as the head covering and secured it with a black cloth headband. He looked adorable!
Two important aspects of culture that emerged were 1) ideas about modesty and 2) practical ways to deal with the local environment.
Modesty was a new word for him, but we had talked about privacy for your body. We talked about how people in different parts of the world have different ideas about modesty. So just like we wouldn’t go outside in just our underwear, people in other cultures wouldn’t go outside with bare arms and legs. So the dress in Saudi Arabia serves the purpose of helping people be modest.
But it is also a practical way to deal with the extremely hot environment. We talked about how we are used to wearing less clothes in hot weather, but this is not the case in other places. Why would this be so? As it turned out, we did have some examples where we layered on clothes when it was hot: we wear hats when it’s really sunny out, and the Monkeys wear shirts in the pool. Covering up can protect us from the sun!
It was also a great opportunity to introduce more science by talking about how light colors, especially white, reflect the sun’s light and so help keep us cool. This came in handy soon after when I had to convince Monkey not to wear a black T-shirt outside on a very hot day!
A lot of learning packed into an afternoon of dress up! And just as important, Monkey had so much fun! This type of experiential learning is so important when learning about other cultures, as children really learn what it is like to “walk in someone else’s shoes.”
Adventures In Mommydom, Afterschool for Smarty Pants, All Done Monkey, Crafty Moms Share, Maroc Mama, Creative World of Varya, Glittering Muffins, Kid World Citizen, Mermaids’ Makings, The Educators’ Spin On It and The Mommy Talks.
If you try a dish from Saudi Arabia, we’d love to hear about it! You can link up your dish or craft here to share your post on all the participating blogs: