How am I supposed to teach my kids about a new country if I haven’t truly visited it? I stopped in Vienna twice on the way to other destinations but this doesn’t really count, does it? A few hours is not enough to gain prospective of the specificity of Austria. I can cover the geography and know some famous Austrians ( Arnold Schwarzenegger, Christoph Waltz, Sigmund Freud) but these names are of no interest to my young children. There are things that may intrigue their curiosity but how do I make it fun for them and where do I start?
FOOD may be one of the best ways to introduce kids as well as adults to a new country. I love trying new things on the menu when we are abroad, even if sometimes I have no clue what to expect. I once ordered steak tartare when in France (because it sounded interesting) and I got a plate of minced raw beef. What?! No way I’m touching this! But I felt embarrassed to take it back so I gave it a try. It wasn’t love at first bite but by the end of my meal I kind of liked it and in time (I had it several times after that first adventure) I learned to love it.
A slice of Austrian chocolate tart is definitely the way to start discovering Austria with kids! Layered cakes have always intimidated me but in her recipe, Sasha shares good tips and a video to help even a novice like me bake a delicious treat. If you’re a culinary adventurer you may want to go beyond cake and explore more courses that together make an authentic Austrian menu.
BOOKS are also among my favorite instruments to introduce kids to a new country.
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Mira Lobe is an Austrian writer of more than 100 children’s books. The Grandma in the Apple Tree is the story of a 8-year old boy who is sad because all kids have grandmothers except him. He has a mom, dad, brother, sister and even a doggy but it isn’t the same as having a grandma who can take you to the merry-go-round whenever you want and knit you hats. So he imagines having a grandma and his imaginary grandma comes to life.
Fireside Stories: Tales for a Winter’s Eve is a collection of eight winter stories from different countries. “Schnitzle, Schotzle and Schnootzle” is an Austrian story about a dad and his three sons who are so poor that the only thing they wish for Christmas is a good meal. The Christmas Eve brings in a small man with a red beard and a funny high voice that will give them an unexpected gift.
Austrian MUSIC is best represented by Mozart, the prodigy boy who was already composing little pieces by the age of five and wrote his first symphony when he was eight. His life is the subject of children’s books like Play Mozart , Play and also the DVD series Little Amadeus.
The title of this CD may refer to Beethoven but it includes pieces composed by several musicians, including Mozart with Eine Kleine Nachtmusik , as well as a Viennese waltz. Beethoven’s Wig is a series of 4 CDs for kids that I’ve been listening to in my car with my kids for more than half a year and we haven’t gotten tired of it yet. (read more about it here)
The Sound of Music is a must see MOVIE that tells the story of the von Trapp family in Austria. The beautiful songs you’ll hear in the movie can be also bought separately here.
I watched Sissi: Forever My Love in high school and fell in love with the beautiful Austrian princess, played by Romy Schneider, and her love story. It made me want to read more about her life.
Enjoy Austria with kids and if you want to move on to another country, I would suggest to head first to Global Table Adventures, click on the map and find great recipes specific to the country of your interest and then check out Multicultural Kid Blogs for tons of ideas on how to raise world citizens.
Related: New York with Kids