Learn about Colombia with Global Citizen Kids Club
It’s time for our second edition of the Global Citizen Kids Club. Today we’re traveling to Colombia! Just like our visit to Iran last month, our family got interested in Colombia after going to a local festival.
Travel along with us as we explore cultural traditions, children’s books, and make a new recipe.
Speaking of learning about the world, have you snagged your free copy of Around the World in 12 Kids’ Activities yet? It’s packed with resources, more than any other freebie I’ve ever offered!
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What We Learned Attending A Colombian Festival
Each year a local nonprofit that supports the Latino community has a festival, including a spotlight on a particular country. My 5 year old’s favorite spot at the festival (besides the paleta cart) was a tent full of Colombian artifacts and souvenirs.
There were several balero games on display. To play, you try to land a wooden ball on top of a wooden pin. The two are attached by a string. It’s really hard! Playing it a lot would be great for hand-eye coordination. If you want to play, you can find a similar game for sale here.
We saw several carriel cowboy satchels on display. These are made of cowhide, so our son had to stroke each one several times. Cowboys who live in the mountainous region wear these. They’re even worn today by some businessmen in certain regions of Colombia.
My favorite part of the festival, hands down, was a live performance by youth who had traveled all the way from Colombia! I’m bummed that I don’t know the group’s name, but I do know that they are from Palenque. Palenque was the first free Black community in all of the Americas, established by Afro-Colombians who escaped slavery in the early 1600s.
Kids can learn more about Palenque’s history and culture in this travelogue video.
Related post: Learn About Kenya: Children’s Books and Activities
Children’s Books About Colombia
We spent the next few days after the festival reading books about Colombia. I also created an easy craft to go with our favorite Colombian book.
Saturday Sancocho by Leyla Torres
Every Saturday, Maria Lili makes sancocho, a traditional Colombian soup, with her grandparents. But this particular Saturday, Papa Angelino says there’s no money for the ingredients. Mama Ana is undeterred, saying she can make sancocho with a dozen eggs. Maria Lili is confused, since there are no eggs in the recipe. Through creative and skillful bargaining, Mama Ana shows her just what you can do with twelve eggs. (Recommended for ages 4 – 9).
Once Upon a Time: Traditional Latin American Tales by Rueben Martínez and Raúl Colón
This bilingual collection contains fairy tales from throughout the continent. We read “The Mother of the Jungle,” a Colombian traditional tale about the Madremonte. She is a mythical, mighty protector of the trees who will take on those who threaten the jungle. (Recommended for ages 6 – 12).
Colombia: Enchantment of the World by Nel Yomtov
For a solid non-fiction introduction to Colombian culture, politics, history, and more we read portions of Colombia: Enchantment of the World. This is a book intended for older elementary children, both because of its length and references to the drug trade and decades-long civil war. The text includes lots of vivid photographs that help kids understand how people live in Colombia today. (Recommended for ages 8 – 12).
Related post: Learn about Greece: Book and Activities for Kids
Juana and Lucas by Juana Medina
Juana is a spunky little girl who lives in Bogotá, with her best friend and dog Lucas. Kids will easily relate to Juana’s trials and joys, all while they get introduced to her city. Spanish words and phrases are sprinkled throughout, in contexts that are easy to figure out. (Recommended for ages 5 – 9).
Waiting for the Biblioburro by Monica Brown and John Parra
Our 5 year old’s favorite book set in Colombia is one we’ve been reading for a year: Waiting for the Biblioburro. It’s inspired by the true story of teacher and librarian Luis Soriano Bohorquez.
Luis serves children in rural communities in the Colombian mountains, who have little access to books. The Biblioburro, a library that’s carried on the backs of two of his donkeys, brings books to the children. This story has changed how my son and I think about books and the precious gift of reading. (Recommended for ages 4 – 8).
If you want to learn more about Luis and his Biblioburro, watch this video. I teared up when he said “a child we educate today with the Biblioburro is a child to whom we are teaching rights, duties and commitments. And a child who knows his rights, his duties and commitments, is a child informed to say no to war.”
Related post: Global Citizen Kids Club: Learn about Iranian Culture
Make your own Biblioburro
Whether you’re able to read Waiting for the Biblioburro or you simply watch the video, you can make your own donkey-led library. Just download my templates and gather a few simple supplies.
Make a Colombian recipe: Mantequilla de pobre
In English mantequilla de pobre means poor person’s butter. It will probably remind you of guacamole, and it’s a recipe that kids can easily help make. My little guy loved scooping out and mashing the avocados. He was not as crazy about the taste (“I can taste the tomatoes!!”) but at least he did try it. I thought it was delicious and was glad to have more for myself!
2 very ripe avocados
2 tomatoes, diced
2 Tablespoons lime juice
3 scallions, thinly sliced
1 Tablespoon olive oil
Salt to taste
Cut the avocados in half. Let your child scoop out the stones, and then scoop the rest of the avocado into a small bowl. Mash the avocado with a fork or potato masher. Add the tomatoes, scallions, lime juice, and olive oil into the bowl. Season with salt and stir well. If you and your child like spicy food, you can chop up a fresh jalapeno (remove the seeds first) and add that to your mantequilla de pobre. Enjoy with chips or on a corn tortilla.
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Purchase a fair trade gift made by a Colombian artisan
Your family can fight poverty, climate change, and economic crisis by shopping fair trade. When you choose fair trade items, you know that the person who made the item was fairly compensated for their work. One of our family’s favorite sources of fair trade gift items is Ten Thousand Villages. You can find a variety of gift items by Colombian artisans offered by Ten Thousand Villages here.
What did you or your child learn about Colombia from this post? Share in the comments!