Cook around the world: improve your child’s geography skills by getting into the kitchen together!

This month we’re talking about how cooking can take you on a trip around the world - plus, we’ve got some amazing geography concepts you can learn right at home in your kitchen!

Remember looking at maps when you were small? Some were so big, you had to unfold the crinkly paper on your floor to see them properly. Maybe you followed the coastline with a finger while munching your cereal, or spun the globe to figure out where you’d like to visit someday. Increasingly, our kids have less access to this kind of relaxed time with physical maps—but there’s a lot you can still learn about the way the world works and the people who live in it, just by spending some time in the kitchen together.  

Don’t have a map to start with? Make your own! We love these salt dough maps as a fun way to get to know the terrain of a country—salt dough is easy, inexpensive, non-toxic and you can paint it any colour you like. While you’re learning about the continents, try this delicious after-school snack experiment to understand tectonics (the science of how continents move)—you’ll need graham crackers and whipped cream (or nut butter) and a hungry kid! Spaghetti noodle geography is also a fun way to study borders and country shapes.

Beyond physical geography, cooking is also a delicious way to get interested in other countries and traditions. Even your school lunch says a lot about where you’re from—take a look at these school lunches from around the world to compare (and maybe work up the courage to test drive a different school lunch!). Then, get to know where your food comes from—the answer might surprise everyone! This helpful activity helps kids to map where their food was grown, and how long it travelled to get to your table.

And, of course, the best part of any virtual trip around the world is enjoying food from other places! Get started with some of these globe-trotting recipes (or check out our cookbook round-up to find more dishes to love). Another great way to connect to dishes from around the world is to look through your family recipe books—here are some ways to explore your heritage through cooking. While you're taste-testing those family recipes, consider how many ingredients you can now source locally (here's a handy tool for figuring out what's local and in season in your part of BC). Over the years, immigrants to Canada have brought favourite foods along with recipes, so now we grow a surprising number of foods locally that used to be associated with other countries: think kiwis or choi!

And, if you’re looking for more ways cooking can tie into your school subjects: we’ve got a whole library of school-tools articles, helping you take a bite out of everything from astronomy... to math... to history!  

Done travelling and ready to relax? We've got tutorials on how cooking can help with that too. And once you've had a chance to enjoy your creations, we'd love to see them—please don't forget share your maps and around-the-world dishes with our communities on Facebook and Instagram!

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