5 Multicultural Activities for Preschoolers to Help Teach the Importance of Diversity

Multicultural Activities for Preschoolers

One of the reasons you love being a teacher is getting to help children explore the world around them. Your preschool classroom is a reflection of America—a melting pot of different ethnicities, languages and cultural beliefs. It’s normal for children to be curious about people who look or act differently than they do, as this natural curiosity presents the perfect opportunity to bring the importance of diversity and tolerance into your classroom.

“It is our responsibility to not only provide our children with early access to education, but also to prepare them to be responsible and caring citizens of the world,” says Marc Carver, founder of educational technology company FutureSoBrite. “Creating that crucial spark of discovery and curiosity in our children at an early age can lead to a lifetime of embracing and celebrating diversity.”

Teaching diversity may seem like an intimidating task in early childhood education, but it doesn’t have to be. These hands-on multicultural activities for preschoolers are a fun way for you to introduce other cultures to the little ones in your care. Keep reading to find a multicultural activity for your next lesson plan.

5 Multicultural activities for preschoolers

1. School around the world

Children are interested in learning more about kids their own age, including what school looks like in other countries. Set up a “school” interest center in a portion of your classroom. Add photos, books, videos and other activities that feature students at school in another culture.

Encourage discussions about school in other countries by asking questions such as, “How do the children get to school?” and “What do they eat for lunch?” Rotate cultures throughout the year so students are exposed to many different school experiences from around the globe.

How it teaches diversity: “By focusing on school, children can automatically relate to experiences of children around the world,” says Robin Leon, a 20-year ECE teacher and senior community counselor at Global Awareness. “Letting the children experience schools around the world through pretend play is a great way to tackle this important topic at a developmentally appropriate level.”

2. Diversity dinner party

Food is at the center of community in many cultures, so it’s a great way to introduce young children to cultural traditions that are different from their own. Ask your classroom families if there are any favorite traditional cuisines they’d like to share with the class, suggests Alison Kim Walker, educational consultant and owner of Hummingbird Learning Group.

Try to include healthy dishes from a variety of countries that may be different from what children have experienced at fast-food restaurants: fresh guacamole, Bánh mì, homemade hummus with pita chips or naan with mild curry.

How it teaches diversity: Some children may be afraid of new experiences, and that includes food. One of the best ways to introduce an unfamiliar culture is to sample the cuisine. This activity provides a safe way for children to try new foods from other cultures while also giving families a chance to share their personal food culture.

3. Hello, friend!

Greeting one another each morning is already an established part of your preschool routine. Make it a fun learning opportunity by introducing words and phrases in other languages at circle time, and encouraging children to practice by greeting their friends with their new vocabulary words.

Bilingual read-aloud books provide another opportunity to introduce children to new languages. Try Hello Ocean / Hola Mar by Pam Munoz Ryan (Spanish), Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park (Korean) and Am I Small? / Mimi Ni Mdogo? by Philipp Winterberg (Swahili).

How it teaches diversity: “One of the first steps in understanding cultural differences is recognizing that not everyone speaks the same language,” Carver says. “Through this exercise, children begin to understand the many different ways people of the world communicate and that language is a bridge to understanding other cultures, not a barrier.”

4. We all celebrate

Children love a good party! Teaching them about cultural and religious celebrations around the world is a great way to get children excited about diversity. You can easily add multicultural classroom celebrations throughout the year by choosing one event to celebrate each month.

Use books and online resources to teach children about the importance of each celebration, and incorporate relevant music and artwork into the learning experience. Children can decorate their own paper skulls for Dia de los Muertos, create Chinese lanterns and rattle drums for Chinese New Year and husk an ear of corn for Kwanzaa.

How it teaches diversity: A culture’s celebrations can reveal a lot about its deeply held values and traditions. Children will look forward to their monthly party while gaining a deeper understanding of how people around the world celebrate with family and friends.

5. Passport travelers

This fun activity allows children to become world travelers and introduces them to their classmates’ diverse backgrounds. First, talk to the parents and children in your class to gather information about their background and any cultural traditions that are important to them, recommends Diana Lee Santamaria, preschool teacher and children’s author. Then, have the children create their own passports for their upcoming ‘round-the-world trip.

Throughout the year, students will take turns sharing where they’re from. Encourage children to bring props like photos, a favorite snack or their country’s flag. Everyone in the class earns a new passport stamp for each country they “visit.” If your class doesn’t have a diverse group of children, Santamaria advises reading a book like Diversity Soup by Latrecia Brown-Johnson, then letting children choose countries from a map.

How it teaches diversity: “It helps children to understand that although we all come from various backgrounds, we are all essentially the same,” Santamaria says. “They also learn that diversity is all around them, even in the classroom.”

Teaching global citizens

We can’t overlook the importance of diversity, even for our littlest members of society. By incorporating these multicultural activities for preschoolers into your classroom, you’re doing your part to raise the next generation of children who appreciates and respects people of all cultures.

Guiding children through the preschool years is a big job. For more tips and advice on how to keep your preschool classroom running smoothly, check out our article, “10 Proven Classroom Management Tips for Preschool Teachers

About the author

Ashley Brooks

Ashley is a freelance writer for Collegis education who writes student-focused articles on behalf of Rasmussen University. She believes in the power of words and knowledge and enjoys using both to encourage others on their learning journeys

female writer

Related Content

Related Content

This piece of ad content was created by Rasmussen University to support its educational programs. Rasmussen University may not prepare students for all positions featured within this content. Please visit www.rasmussen.edu/degrees for a list of programs offered. External links provided on rasmussen.edu are for reference only. Rasmussen University does not guarantee, approve, control, or specifically endorse the information or products available on websites linked to, and is not endorsed by website owners, authors and/or organizations referenced. Rasmussen University is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission, an institutional accreditation agency recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

logo-accreditation-acen logo-accreditation-ccne chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors-masters 0 Credits 90 Credits 180 Credits 48 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE Start Here MASTER'S DEGREE PURSUERS End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE End Here MASTER'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-associates-bachelors 0 Credits Start Here HIGH SCHOOL GRADS Start Here TRANSFER STUDENTS 90 Credits Start Here SECOND DEGREE PURSUERS End Here ASSOCIATE'S DEGREE 180 Credits End Here BACHELOR'S DEGREE chart-credential-laddering-msn chart-credential-laddering-nursing-programs chart-credential-laddering-nursing DNP MSN RN to BSN LPN to RN Bridge Accelerated BSN Professional Nursing ADN Practical Nursing Diploma Pre-Licensure Post-Licensure icon-colored-outline-bank icon-colored-outline-certificate icon-colored-outline-circle-dollar-sign icon-colored-outline-folder-search icon-colored-outline-hand-heart icon-colored-outline-head-blocks icon-colored-outline-head-cog icon-colored-outline-head-heart icon-colored-outline-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-outline-hospital icon-colored-outline-lifelong-learning icon-colored-outline-light-bulb-analytics icon-colored-outline-location-pin icon-colored-outline-magnifying-glass icon-colored-outline-monitor-healthcare icon-colored-outline-monitor-paper-search icon-colored-outline-nurse-rays icon-colored-outline-padlock-shield icon-colored-outline-person-presenter-screen icon-colored-outline-scales ras-logo-flame ras-logo-horizontal ras-logo-stacked icon-colored-advance icon-colored-arrows-cross-curve icon-colored-briefcase-star icon-colored-build icon-colored-bulb-analytics icon-colored-certificate icon-colored-continual-development icon-colored-duo-chatbox icon-colored-folder-mortarboard icon-colored-forward-ribbon icon-colored-gears-clock icon-colored-globe-pen icon-colored-growth icon-colored-hand-bubble icon-colored-hand-stars icon-colored-hands-gear icon-colored-head-blocks icon-colored-head-cog icon-colored-health-plus-leaves icon-colored-hospital-building icon-colored-laptop-cbe-skyscraper icon-colored-laptop-checkmark icon-colored-laptop-webpage icon-colored-location-map icon-colored-location-pin icon-colored-monitor-paper-scan icon-colored-mortarboard-dollar icon-colored-national icon-colored-people-chat-bubbles icon-colored-person-cheer-star icon-colored-person-laptop-checkboxes icon-colored-person-screen-instructor icon-colored-person-whiteboard icon-colored-phone-chatbox icon-colored-police-light icon-colored-prep icon-colored-presenter icon-colored-regional icon-colored-save-time icon-colored-shirt-hat icon-colored-skyscraper icon-colored-state icon-colored-student-centered icon-colored-support icon-colored-world-experience icon-triangle-arrow-up-plant icon-triangle-calendar-pencil icon-triangle-clock-rotating-arrows icon-triangle-display-gears icon-triangle-hand-right-speech-bubble icon-triangle-laptop-coding-brackets icon-triangle-mortarboard icon-triangle-paper-ribbon icon-triangle-person-cheer-star icon-triangle-person-juggle icon-triangle-triple-people-chat-bubble icon-modality-campus icon-modality-field icon-modality-online icon-modality-residential icon-arrow icon-bank icon-camera icon-filter icon-general-chart icon-general-connect icon-general-degree icon-general-discuss icon-general-email icon-general-find icon-general-hat icon-general-heart icon-general-laptop-building icon-general-laptop icon-general-leader icon-general-map icon-general-money icon-general-paperwork icon-general-people icon-general-phone icon-general-speak-out icon-head-heart icon-info-circle icon-mail-forward icon-mglass icon-play-solid icon-quote-mark-left icon-quote-mark-right icon-scales icon-share-square-o icon-simple-chat icon-simple-desktop icon-simple-find icon-simple-hamburger icon-simple-phone icon-spinner icon-tag icon-testimonial-quotes icon-util-checkbox-white icon-util-checkbox icon-util-checked-white icon-util-checked icon-util-chevron-down icon-util-chevron-left icon-util-chevron-right icon-util-chevron-up icon-util-circle-arrow-down icon-util-circle-dot icon-util-language-switch icon-util-loading icon-util-open-window-link icon-util-pdf-link icon-util-refresh icon-util-x rebrand-arrows icon-social-facebook-colored icon-social-facebook-square-colored icon-social-facebook-square icon-social-facebook icon-social-google-plus-square icon-social-google-plus icon-social-instagram-colored icon-social-instagram icon-social-linkedin-square-colored icon-social-linkedin-square icon-social-linkedin icon-social-pinterest-p-colored icon-social-pinterest-p icon-social-twitter-colored icon-social-twitter-square icon-social-twitter icon-social-youtube-play-colored icon-social-youtube-play graduate-cap-star-coin hand-coin hand-heart nurse-stethoscope-rays card-send-smile person-yoga-pose suitcase-star