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Around the World Toolkit

Rationale: Why Global Knowledge and Skills are Critical

The ability to know, understand and relate to people from other cultures and with different points of view are essential skills that build toward global competency.

In an increasingly diverse and complex world, it is essential that children have the opportunity to build the life skills required to be literate and responsible global citizens. The Around The World program is a multifaceted project designed to spark curiosity, imagination and interest by introducing global issues and content and encouraging shared moments of discovery with families. The program strives to help prepare children to consider interpersonal communication about things that address locally specific, intercultural and global values. These values include stewardship of our world, health, education, social justice and peace.

At Stepping Stones Museum for Children, we believe in the power of bringing together young people, with all due regard for the now globalized world of new possibilities, for intercultural collaboration and understanding.

 

History: 2009 – Present

Stepping Stones Museum for Children introduced the Around the World program in 2009. The goal was to enable children, their families and their caregivers to experience different cultures and visit far-away places without ever leaving Norwalk. Each month, Stepping Stones Museum for Children introduces visitors to 12 different parts of the globe and highlights the various cultures and people that inhabit the world.

Throughout each month, visitors to the museum can expect a variety of programming including performances from professional artists, music, hands-on activities, youth performers and crafts. Creative Kids, a program offered generally on the first Saturday of the month, provides visitors with a hands-on craft activity that relates to the country of the month.

In 2010 and 2011 additional components were developed and integrated into the program including vacation week activities, a special book shelf in the Family and Teacher Resource Center with books about the country of the month and music from the country played at various times in the museum. The addition of a Multimedia Gallery enabled us to connect with other countries via teleconferencing and to offer films and media presentations. The performance series evolved and more prestigious artists were engaged to showcase different cultural traditions.

In 2013, we began engaging young people from our youth program (Youth Enrichment at Stepping Stones (YES2) (grades 6 – 12) to assist with research for the content of an informational wall display we call the Travel Guide. The content is further integrated into a short film that is created in house and features performances from our YES2 participants.

Destinations

Around The World: Performance Series
2009 Destinations
2010 Destinations
2011 Destinations
2012 Destinations
2013 Destinations
2014 Destinations
 

Selecting the Countries

Selecting the countries is very important to the success of the program but it can also pose challenges. Countries can be selected from various continents with a travel pattern that moves around the globe. Stepping Stones elected to “travel” the world in this fashion. An alternate method would be to select a single continent or geographic area and focus on countries that lie within those boundaries.

Often we look at what performers we can locate in our area and we choose the countries based on performer availability. However, we can broaden our reach by contacting local chapters of various cultural and ethnic groups and seeing if they can recommend a performer or performance group. We have also reached out to the Consulates of countries for suggestions.

If an indigenous performer is not available, there remain other options for performances. We have engaged puppet companies that present stories from specific countries. We have also utilized our internal resources to create Readers Theater or dramatic storytimes. An example of using Readers Theater was our production of Thumbelina by Hans Christian Anderson for Scandinavia. This was written and performed by museum staff. A special storytime was created for France with a staff member dressed as Madeline from the Ludwig Bemelmans book. Our Madeline read her story while presenting images and information of the actual locations in the book.

 
MetLife Foundation – 2013 Promising Practice Replication Award Toolkit

Replication Toolkit

Stepping Stones received the MetLife Foundation and Association of Children's Museums Replication Award to develop a toolkit for museums interested in developing an Around the World program.

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