International Children’s Day is one of our most beloved celebrations of the year. We come together to celebrate countries and cultures from around the world. Each family and child chooses a culture to represent, either from their own heritage or one they would like to explore. They dress in their traditional wardrobe, parade, and sing songs of peace and friendship. The older children spend countless hours researching the country of their choice and create reports of fun facts and important details. Together we join as a community to share a meal. Not just any meal, but little bites and tastes from around the world. We all contribute to help prepare for the day. The children practice their songs and create their flags; we enjoy the company of our community and learn from the different cultures and traditions from around the world.
Lauren Bolar 1991
Why do we enjoy International Children’s Day so much? What makes it special? Each and every person has their own familiar feeling from this day or special memory to share. From my own experience, I remember the joy of studying my ancestors and hearing stories of where my family before me came. Learning how I was part German, Irish, Cuban, French, Spanish and more, helped me to adapt not only to my time and place and also created a strong connection to my family and ancestry. It also gave me a new place to visit, first searching deep within an encyclopedia as a child and then traveling to these destinations as an adult. Taking in the rich history and culture of each country and community I learned about. These pieces of family and their stories built a rich culture of worldly appreciation in my heart and quest for knowledge. Each year I celebrated International Children’s Day, it gifted me another opportunity to find out a little bit more. My mother dedicated much of her time recreating traditional wardrobes for my brothers and I to wear, a traditional meal to share and encouraged us to do our own research to find out how we connected to our ancestors.
International Children’s Day was first celebrated at Tempe Montessori School over thirty years ago. Each year it has grown a little bit larger and a little bit more in importance. One thing that has remained the same over the years, is the joy and love the children share for this day. In the Montessori community, we find ourselves celebrating our similarities more than our differences.
In fact, the way in which Geography and Culture are presented in a Montessori environment are one made first of being Human. In the A to I communities we share real stories of our cultural traditions, we prepare food and discuss its origins and we are sure to meet the basic human needs. In the Primary classroom, we first discover the world and its seven continents with the Puzzle Maps. Each of the seven continents is coupled with a Geography Folder. In each of these folders, children discover pictures representing similarities amongst each continent. The children build connections to the world through pictures of people, family, food, homes, churches, animals, landmarks and more. They find we are more alike than different. We all have family, we need shelter, food and love. After the child understands the concepts of each continent and finds the parallels of human begins and the world, we begin discussing each Country and State within that continent. Learning each State or Country until we finally get to Arizona (or the state you live in); we point to the state and say, “We live right here.” When the child enters the Elementary classroom, they learn the Great stories of the creation of our earth, again, emphasizing the connection that all human beings have. When working on Geography, they utilize the Pin Maps to learn the capitals, rivers, mountain ranges and more specifics of the continents. In all our classrooms, we continue to tell true stories about the beautifully and carefully chosen culturally diverse art pieces on the walls. This broadens the children’s understanding of the world. We discuss peace, kindness, and care for others and those around us.
Presenting Culture and Geography in this way creates a universal connection to the people and countries around the world and continues to build appreciation for perspective, diversity and an understanding that even though different countries each have their own cuisine, clothing, language, holidays and celebrations, we all have one thing in common, we are all part of the Human race.
Celebrating and appreciating cultures from around the world in an event like International Children’s Day continues to build interest and appreciation in different parts of the world. Sparking the importance of the wanderer, who one day may travel to the exotic jungles in the Amazon. Celebrating builds curiosity in the Historian to discover the origins of Kings and Queens in Europe, the explorer to Safari in Africa, or dive from waterfalls or climb Mount Everest. The Culinary artist might dine on noodles in Japan, China, Viet Nam or South Korea, the Anthropologist to travel to Egypt and discover more about The Great Pyramid of Giza.
We must continue to cultivate curiosity in the minds of the children to keep discovering parts of the world that contrast where they live. This will continue to build positive relationships between our unique cultures and celebrate each other as one large community.
This begins with us, when the children are young. We sing songs of Peace of Earth, How Love Grows, Building a world, furnishing it with love, let’s continue to celebrate and discover the beauty of the people and places from around the world. Cultural appreciation and celebration will foster positive relationships between children that will grow into a more peaceful society of adults. It originates in our homes and in our classrooms. The people of our world are celebrated during International Children’s Day and renews through the lives of the children as they grow with love and appreciation for the humans and the world that surrounds them.
“Of all things, Love is the most potent.”
– Maria Montessori
- *Pictures provided Courtesy of Lauren Bolar
- Picture 1: Lauren Bolar celebrating ICD 1991
- Picture 2: Chad Bolar creating the map of South America 1985
- Picture 3: Dustin Bolar celebrating ICD 1991
- Picture 4: James Bolar celebrating ICD 1991
AMI Trained 0-6