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Putumayo Presents World Playground Multicultural Activity Kit Review by Grace Freeman

Program Supervisor: Dan Storper
Putumayo World Music

This activity kit is filled with a wealth of materials and activities. There is an audio CD with twelve songs from thirteen different countries: Senegal, Bolivia, Jamaica, Australia, Canada, USA: New Orleans, Greece, France, Democratic Republic of Congo/Puerto Rico, Brazil, Israel/Ethiopia, and USA: Mississippi Delta.

The goal of the curriculum is to "offer a wide range of creative and intellectually stimulating experiences that will help children? feel curious and concerned about the world around them." Based on these twelve songs, there is a teacher's activity kit with information about the song/artist, cultural and historical facts, and a country profile that includes information about the country's climate, languages, a few vocabulary words and MORE.

In addition to all of this information, there is a clearly outlined lesson plan for each song with teaching objectives, a list of materials needed, step-by-step activity instructions, and finally extension ideas if you want to do more! I was glad to see that the book included each song's lyrics and English translations-otherwise, how would I know what my children are listening to?

In the final pages of the book, there is a wrap-up trivia game, a glossary of terms, and some important reproducible pages. The reproducible pages include a "Tree of Life?Me and My Roots" page where children are to write some things they know about their family history. The next page is an interview worksheet that gives the student ten questions to use in interviewing a family member. These two pages would work well together if you wanted your child to learn more about your family's history. Finally there are reproducible passport pages that are to be cut, colored, and pasted into your student's passport.

The passport journal is the final piece to this kit. The passport journal is the student's book for this curriculum. The first page is a page about the student with a place to glue a portrait. The following pages give the student a place to write the name of the country they are studying, what the country and flag look like (the map and country flag are from the reproducible page in the teacher's book), new words the student learned, a large section for the student to write what she/he has learned while visiting the country, what instrument(s) was used in the song, and finally a place for the child to draw about the things she/he learned in the new country.

Although the journal could be shared, I would recommend buying each child his/her own. I would probably use this book in my homeschool for a child between the ages of 7-13. Being an ESL teacher, I am always interested in introducing my child to different cultures, music, and languages. My purpose in doing this is to give my son an appreciation for the blessed life we have in the United States and to remember the call upon every Christian to be witnesses to the "end of the earth" (Acts 1: 8b).

With that said, this curriculum is not a Christian resource; therefore, the song lyrics and information have no "spiritual" context. If I used this kit, I would supplement it with a study of world missions along with looking at the current climate in different countries towards the Gospel. Books such as Jesus Freaks by DC Talk have inspired me to remember the persecuted church and those who are willing to risk it all for the sake of the Gospel.

-- Product Review by: Grace Freeman, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, November, 2005