One of the most amazing results of the internet age is the ability to deeply investigate people and places around the globe. As you head out this summer, you can involve your children in pre-travel exploration and planning through kid-friendly travel resources, including some from PBS.
“Let’s Go Luna” is our world culture-themed PBS KIDS show. Luna and her friends (members of a traveling circus) have many episodes of globe-hopping adventures. In each episode, they pick up cultural knowledge of a place, including local customs, language and art. “Let’s Go Luna” can be viewed via www.pbskids.org or the PBS KIDS Video Viewer, and “Luna” games are at www.pbskids.org and on the PBS KIDS Games app.
“Molly of Denali’s” travels tend to focus on the vast terrain of Alaska, and the ongoing activities are rooted in the Athabascan culture of Molly’s village. By explicitly exploring Athabascan culture and the Alaskan habitat, the show invites comparisons to the ways that viewers lead their own lives. This can pave the way for an awesome visit to Alaska, but the skills of compare and contrast transfer well to wherever you may go. “Molly” can be found at www.pbskids.org, and the PBS KIDS Video and Games apps.
Finally, though we tend to think of this show for the white-haired among us, consider “Rick Steves’ Europe!” Rick shows us how to pack light, cover ground efficiently and eat great snacks all day long. Your kids may not be ready for extended strolls through museums, but they will probably accept a mid-morning gelato.
This brings me to a final anecdote. Several years ago, an Austin organization was taking a group of elementary-age kids to a San Antonio art museum. The adults were dreading it based upon prior experiences of bored kids and frustrated docents. One group leader introduced the kids to the museum’s website and encouraged small groups of kids to map their own scavenger hunts of the works they most wanted to see. When they arrived on-site, the docents were astounded by the kids’ thorough knowledge of the art and by their ability to navigate the museum. So, if museums are on your itinerary, give your kids some power to choose – both artworks and dessert!
Benjamin Kramer, PhD, is the director of education for Austin PBS.