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By Diana Townsend-Butterworth
Parents, grandparents, and other adults from the community — such as police officers, firefighters, dentists, doctors, and artists — may be invited to come to the classroom to share stories about their jobs and cultural heritage. A parent who grew up in Portugal or Korea might bring in pictures of traditional costumes, tell a folk tale, or teach the children a dance or song. They might also prepare a favorite recipe for children to taste and explain how it is made and where the ingredients come from. Later the children draw pictures and write stories about the visit to reinforce what they have learned.
Children also learn about their history and other cultures through books they see in the classroom. Teachers read stories about children growing up in Russia, Iceland, Botswana, and on islands in the Caribbean. Children may act out the stories or learn traditional songs and dances. Bill Gordh, director of expressive arts at the Episcopal School in New York City, likes to spin a globe and tell a folk tale from whichever country the children point to.
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