Stay-At-Home Summer: International Inspired Activities for Families

Each week, the WorldStrides Education Team develops a collection of activities centered around the locations we love (and the subjects we’re smitten with!). Each collection of projects is created with the whole family in mind, and will get you moving, thinking, creating, and most importantly of all – having fun!  This week’s collection focuses on activities inspired by some of our favorite international destinations, including Iceland, Ireland, Spain, and Italy!

Europe contains some of our favorite destinations. Each country contains rich histories, delicious foods, and breathtaking arts. We’re importing some of these gems into our own homes to make summer a little more spectacular! Below, you’ll learn more about the culture of Icelandic Vikings, practice the fancy footwork of Flamenco, cozy up with a filling bowl of Irish stew, and tackle the challenge of painting on the ceiling ala Michelangelo!

Design and Write like an Icelandic Viking

Learn: You’ve heard of Vikings, but what do you really know about them? Watch this Crash Course video to develop a stronger understanding of these warriors. 

Stereotypes often portray the Vikings as illiterate and uncultured, but that’s certainly not true. They left behind painted battle shields (used not only for protection, but also for decoration), a system of writing known as runes, and epic poetry sagas that are still told today. You can learn more about the history of the runic alphabet (called Futhark) and write your name in runes by clicking here. 

Do: Choose your activity! Using the runic alphabet from the website above, write a message to a family member or friend that they must decode. Remember, not all letters used in our alphabet are represented in runes, so be creative! 

Or, you can design your own battle shield! Carefully consider the colors and symbols you’d include. What do you want to communicate about yourself to the person on the other side of that shield?  

Think: What were the Vikings’ motivations in traveling? What are some common misconceptions about the Vikings? How are Vikings portrayed in modern pop culture? 

Woman and man holding painted shields and wooden spears like vikings
Pieces of paper containing the icelandic runic alphabet

Master Flamenco Footwork

LEARN: When visiting Spain our students have the opportunity to experience Flamenco dancing firsthand. They not only watch native dancers but also take a dance lesson – how fun! Want to be inspired? Watch these highlights from the Ballet Flamenco de Andalucía’s 2016 performance in New York City. The traditional Spanish dance is adored by natives and tourists alike – but the history of the dance is complicated. Read this Smithsonian article to learn more. 

DO: Want to learn the basic steps yourself? Follow this YouTube tutorial designed for students of all ages. We think you’ll be surprised what you can learn in just 10 minutes. Get your family or quaranteam to join you. Check out educator and WorldStrides International Program Consultant, Michael Edelstein practicing his moves! 

THINK: What dances exist in your family’s background? What traditional dances exist in other regions around the world? Is there one you would like to know more about? How do the traditional dance costumes positively or negatively represent the regions they characterize? 

Man in various positions of flamenco dancing

Cooking a Staple Irish Meal

LEARN:  An Irish favorite, whether when visiting Ireland or around St. Patrick’s Day in the US, is Irish Stew. Usually made with lamb or beef, it’s a delicious meal! Read an article on some of the origins of how it became an Irish staple and on the history of Irish cuisine.  

DO: Time to cook this Irish specialty. Help cook dinner one night and make Irish Stew or Irish Beef Stew. There are many different versions! Here is a recipe for Irish Stew and a video to help.  Here is a beef version of the recipe.  Check out what an educator and member of the Curriculum & Academics team made for dinner!  

THINK: What are some of your family’s favorite recipes? What are some dishes related to a country where you’d like to travel? How has the environment shaped the food culture of that country?  

A bowl of irish stew topped with mashed potatoes and a side of bread and butter, another photo of a woman holding the bowl of stew

Painting like Michelangelo

LEARN: Excited to visit Rome one day? Love to paint and want to explore a new technique? Watch this Smithsonian Magazine video about how Michelangelo painted the Sistine Chapel in just four short years.  

DO: Try your hand at painting like Michelangelo. Grab a piece of paper, some tape, the nearest low table, and your favorite set of colored pencils, crayons, or even paints. You will quickly learn that creating artwork upside-down is not easy but can be really fun. 

THINK: How could Michelangelo’s technique be used for things other than painting a ceiling? What other ways could Michelangelo have painted the Sistine Chapel? 

Woman and daughter laying on floor drawing on underside of wooden table

We want to see your stellar Viking shields, your mouth-watering Irish stew, your new flamenco moves, and your Michelangelo-inspired masterpiece! Make sure to share it with our team at discovery@worldstrides.com – we might share your hard work and creativity on our social media!  Looking for more activities? Check out our collection of science-themed ones!