5 ways to expose your children to other cultures
Motherly for Nick Jr.'s Canticos

In an ideal world, jetting around the globe with children would be an easy endeavor. But for most mamas, budget and time constraints (not to mention the more obvious challenges of traveling with little ones!) make it all but impossible.

Fortunately, global travel isn't the only way to expose children to new cultures and foster cultural empathy. "One of the easiest ways to encourage your child's cultural empathy and understanding is by being open to other cultures," says Dr. Sanya Pelini, Ph.D. and practical parenting expert.

Here are five empowering ways to promote cultural empathy in your young child—without having to leave your neighborhood.

1. Explore the world through books and entertainment.

Books can be one of the simplest ways to broaden a world view for kids and adults alike. "Good books not only teach your child about different cultures and their traditions, it is also a great way to help your child pick up new vocabulary and information about different regions around the world," Pelini says. Nick Jr.'s Canticos' books like Little Chickies-Los Pollitos is a great place to start (and it was named Kirkus' Best Book of the Year!).

Videos can help too. Canticos is also available as animated short-form video content that introduces children to Spanish and encourages bilingualism through familiar nursery rhymes.

Share and sing along to the episodes with your little one here—and don't be surprised if you start hearing "The Wheels on the Bus" en espanol.

2. Encourage curiosity and research. 

Odds are, you have cultural resources right in your community you can take advantage of. Pick a country once a month and plan events (or even just a themed dinner) around experiencing that culture. Older children can be tasked with researching the country and reporting back to the family on history, geography, music and language of the chosen country, while littler ones can help you prepare recipes commonly eaten in that culture.

"One of the biggest obstacles to developing cultural empathy is a lack of understanding of the other," Pelini says.

3. Spend time with all different types of people. 

Maybe your sister's husband is from a different country or your neighbor grew up with a different religion. Use these differences as an opportunity to teach your children that, while other people may do different things, everyone deserves love and respect.

"It is important for your child to get real exposure to different cultures. Having someone from a different culture in your family is a great opportunity to teach your child that there's nothing wrong in being different," Pelini says. "Getting real exposure can help your child understand that people can be culturally different but still have so many things in common. It can be a great way to break down stereotypes."

Don't have a nearby friend or relative you can tap? Do a little research to find cultural festivals or other cultural events happening in your community.

4. Encourage your child to ask you questions. 

Encourage your children to ask questions, and don't get uncomfortable even if you feel like the question is difficult. "There is no need to get embarrassed when your child asks 'why is that lady black?' or 'why are his eyes like that?' We all notice differences, and kids are not different," Pelini says.

Instead of skirting the issue, try saying: "There are many different people in the world: some are black, some are white, some are brown, etc." By normalizing cultural differences, you help your child to feel even more connected to people who are different from him. Encountering those who might be from different backgrounds enriches children's lives immeasurably.

And if your child does get struggle with something—it becomes a rich teaching moment for you to help them learn and stretch their empathetic muscle by considering another's point of view. Talking to them about feelings is key to fostering empathy.

Today's kids are the most diverse generation of Americans ever, and animated short form content like Nick Jr.'s Canticos are committed to reflecting that diversity with content that brings together kids and familiar from all backgrounds.

5. Set an example.

Your child learns just as much from your reaction to different cultures as from what you say. That's why promoting cultural empathy and sensitivity starts with you. "Showing your child that you do not tolerate (or make) such comments shows you respect other cultures and gives her a model to follow," Pelini says.

When you exhibit respect and show your child what kind, caring relationships look like—they will learn from your ongoing example.

Maybe one day you and your children will travel the world, but for now, there are many ways to foster an empathetic spirit from home.

This article was sponsored by Nick Jr. + Canticos. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

Dr. Sanya Pelini holds a Ph.D. in education. She transforms educational research into practical parenting tools and resources on her blog Raising Independent Kids.

Without camps and back-to-school plans still TBD, the cries of "I'm bored!" seem to be ringing louder than ever this summer. And if you're anything like me, by August, I'm fresh out of boxes to check on my "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys.

With that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite wooden toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.


Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!


Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.


Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.


Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.


Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.


Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.


We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.


Why do all of my good parenting or baby-focused inventions come after they've already been invented by someone else? Sigh.

Like the Puj hug hooded baby towel, aka the handiest, softest cotton towel ever created.

Safely removing a wet, slippery baby from the bath can be totally nerve-wracking, and trying to hold onto a towel at the same time without soaking it in the process seems to require an extra arm altogether. It's no wonder so much water ends up on the floor, the countertops, or you(!) after bathing your little one. Their splashing and kicking in the water is beyond adorable, of course, but the clean up after? Not as much.

It sounds simple: Wash your child, sing them a song or two, let them play with some toys, then take them out, place a towel around them, and dry them off. Should be easy, peasy, lemon squeezy, right?

But it hasn't been. It's been more—as one of my favorite memes says—difficult, difficult, lemon difficult. Because until this towel hit the bathtime scene, there was no easy-peasy way to pick up your squirming wet baby without drenching yourself and/or everything around you.

Plus, there is nothing cuter than a baby in a plush hooded towel, right? Well, except when it's paired with a dry, mess-free floor, maybe.

Check out our favorites to make bathtime so much easier:

Keep reading Show less

Pop culture might lead us to believe that single people are having all the good sex and us married folks are lucky to get anything at all. But, for a lot of couples, sex gets better after a walk down the aisle.

I'll put it like this: The escapades I had before my husband were a lot like fast food—quick and unsatisfying. On the other hand, married sex is like having a five-star, live-in chef. So, why is it so hard to sell the idea married people are having the best sex of their lives?

Keep reading Show less
Love + Village