Welcome to Oceania

Detailed Map of Oceania

Oceania consisted of over 10,000 islands, all with unique cultural identities.

After my month of “Everything Africa” went so well, I decided to head to the other side of the world and spend a month on “Everything Oceania.” My journey began at the library where I raided the kids section on everything I could find on Oceania’s countries and cultures. Next, my assistant and I put together activities and worksheets designed to get the kids to open the books. You can access all of our worksheet by clicking on the bold links in the text below.

Our first activity was an Oceania Map Challenge, in which the kids simply learned a bit about where Oceania is on the globe. We added a bonus question on the worksheet to encourage kids to actually open up our books.

For those with internet access, you can add to this challenge with a simple Oceania Online Map Quiz that I found online. Challenge the kids to use their maps and see how quickly they can finish the quiz. Get the kids to compete for fastest score, trying as often as they like. Keep a record of their top scored and award global event stamps, and/or treats accordingly.

Our next activity was inspired by my new favorite “kids” book entitles, How People Live. I plan on keeping this book and using this activity a lot. In fact, I have been using this activity every time kids come in and want to earn treats, but don’t have homework. I simply have the kids pick a page that looks interesting and fill out the World Cultures Challenge Worksheet that I prepared. The worksheet is designed to be easy and can be used with any cultural book; its really just to encourage the kids to explore our many resource books. Its added bonus, the kids are getting to understand how indexes and tables of contents work.

Here’s another activity, the kids always ask for movies. Whenever I show them a “Global Passport Recommended Movie,” I also ask them to fill out a World Cultures Challenge Worksheet like the one use in the activity above. If they fill out the worksheet, they get a Global Passport Stamp.

For movies that take place in Oceania, Global Passport we have several recommendations:

The Whale Rider, a lovely award winning film about a young Maori girl’s fight to prove her love, her leadership, and her destiny. This is by far, my favorite on this list.

Call it Courage tells the story of a young Polynesian boy named Mufatu, son of a chief but afraid of the water; he must learn to face his fears.

The Haumana explores the life of a charismatic host of a struggling tourist show in Waikiki who accepts the challenge of leading a group of high school boys through the demanding discipline of hula for a traditional hula festival.

The Dark Horse is a true story based on the life of a young Maori named Genesis Potini; a brilliant chess champion struggling with mental illness and searching for purpose in his community.

For your youngest kids, we have two Disney animated movies:  Lilo and Stitch and Moana. Neither are designed to be really accurate, but they do introduce kids to a smattering of culture in easy to swallow bites; they might be the start of a nice conversation about culture.

I can’t end this list of movie recommendations without mentioning Rapa Nui, an amazing film set on Rapa Nui, aka Easter Island, before encountering foreigners. Not really a kids movies, as its contents are a bit violent and the costumes are extremely accurate–meaning bare breasts abound. However, if your kids are mature enough, it is a powerful if somewhat speculative look at a unique and mysterious culture in its decline.

Of course, showing movies  is never enough in itself, so we had several crafting, game and dance activities to share with the kids.

I think our most poplar craft activity was making Maori Poi Balls and learning a few dance moves. I’ve posted a video link below that gives step-by-step directions for making poi balls, followed by three additional videos about poi balls that might inspire your kids. Just for fun, I’ve also posted a few other fun videos for your kids. We did try the Maori stick game, and we were terrible at it, but the kids had fun trying.

One day we simply went online and looked for videos of the various cultural dances: Figi Dance, Micronesian War Dance, Maori Haka, Tahitian Dance, and more. Go online, and search  a culture’s name and see what you find. I like to call this self-propelled learning, and it is the best way to engage a child’s heart and mind.

In the end, your goal should be to help your kids enjoy exploring cultures. Let these ideas be a beginning and allow you kids to lead you to new lessons. Happy exploring to you all.


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