We’re obviously big fans of audio stories as we’re taking one year to travel around Europe and write stories about the countries we visit. We believe good stories can stimulate the imagination in ways that nothing else can. Once a child’s senses are engaged and their imagination hooked, a good story can teach anything.
Audio stories are wonderful for kids of all ages and adults for so many different reasons, but what’s the best way to use them? How can they best be incorporated into daily life?
Here are some of our favorite ideas on how to use Around the World Stories.
Cooking around the world with stories
If kids have a chance to try Apfelstrudel like Maja in Germany, Kaiserschmarrn like Mirabell in Austria or Tzaziki like Dimitrius in Greece, they will experience and connect to a part of that culture, and it’ll add so much more meaning to what they heard in the story. In many of our parent guides we include the recipe of a food we talk about in the story. Try making one meal specific to that country after listening to a story, and maybe the kids will even be inspired enough to make help dinner! A win-win. At the very least, everyone should have Hagelsdag (Dutch chocolate sprinkles) on toast at least once in their life, right?
Weekly special activity
In addition to cooking, there are so many other activities you could do that go along with the story/country. Something like planting tulips or going on a bike ride together after listening to our stories about the Netherlands would go a long way in really experiencing something about the culture. If you’re feeling brave, you can try making lavender soap or lotion after listening to our story about southern France and the lavender fields or going to a museum after our story about Degas and the d’Orsay museum. Even just playing with Legos after our Lego story in Denmark is making a connection between the country and activity. What a powerful tool to help kids learn and remember in such a fun and special way!
One of our favorite activities as a family is to all sit together (preferably wrapped in blankets and most definitely with warm drinks within reach) and listen to an audio book or story. It’s such a wonderful way to relax and learn together. It’s always been our goal to write stories that are fun and sweet enough for a 6 year old but still interesting and educational enough for a 12 year old.
Our stories are typically about 30-35 minutes long — perfect for recharging during quiet time. When our kids listen to stories during quiet time, they usually color or play with simple toys like Legos or Playmobil. Our 10-year-old has started whittling while she listens (messy but fun!) – anything that keeps their hands engaged while their minds are deep in another world. We’ve been adding crossword puzzles, word searches and coloring pages in the parent guides just for this purpose, and best of all, the clues to the puzzles are in the stories!
A springboard for discussion and learning
Once a story has captured the imagination, the door is wide open for learning. At the same time, we don’t cram facts and figures into the stories, because that’s not the point. Our goal is to get kids to think about other cultures in ways that are important to them — what other kids do for fun, what they eat, how they celebrate, what games they play and what their houses are like. We highlight some ways that make a culture unique and beautiful. After listening, you can either follow the discussion ideas in our parent guides or your kids can take the lead! With topics like Tulipmania, the potato famine, Picasso, HC Andersen, the northern lights, kindness, courage and true happiness, there is no limit to where the stories can take you and your kids!
Sometimes it’s just nice to have entertainment for the kids when everyone needs a break. Riding in the car, before bed, Saturday morning when you want to sleep in (for once!), or when you or they need a breather are all times when a story can be just what everyone needs.
Have you heard of country boxes? We think they’re such a fun idea — a box full of items collected from a specific country. Things like a map, stamps, flag, food, money, a postcard, bookmark, stickers, toys or a CD. It’s so much fun for kids to see, listen to, taste or play with things from the country they’re learning about. How fun to have one of these boxes while listening to a story! We love the idea so much that we sometimes offer country boxes as a giveaway on our Instagram page. Be sure to follow us there to watch for them!
Now I’d love to hear from you — how do you use audio stories in your family?