Located in southern Europe, Italy is one of the region's most popular tourist spots. With a long, varied history and rich culture, there are a lot of areas to pull activity ideas from. For kids, the Italian culture can be especially interesting. For parents and children, it can be a fun educational project that uses different senses and embraces individual interests. Additionally, most activities can be created little or no cost.
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Historically, art has played an important part in Italy's culture. As a driving force behind the Renaissance, Italian artists were often innovators in technique and design, making their work some of the most beloved among artists. Leonardo da Vinci and Michelangelo are perhaps the best known, and several child-friendly books and websites offer examples of their works. Children can then put their own skills to the test by using crayons and markers to create their own portraits or other works. Once the drawings have been finished, affix them to the ceiling in the dining room, enjoy them over an Italian-inspired meal and explain how Michelangelo designed and painted the Sistine Chapel. In most areas, local museums or art centres will have at least some added information on these artists, and occasional travelling exhibits may be available.
As the case in many other cultures, food is often an event in Italian culture. It is a celebration that brings families together, and in that vein Italian foods can be fun to prepare. People commonly associate Italian food with pizza and pasta, but it is really much more in depth than that. Fresh ingredients and plenty of time often go into creating Italian meals, a sentiment that may be fun to share with your own kids. Take time to plan a meal from starters -- olives, bread or artichokes -- to dessert, such as Tiramisu or a sweet cannoli. If cooking isn't your forte or the kids are too young to participate, stick with a basic spaghetti and garlic bread. Whether the sauce is homemade or not, kids will have fun making a mess. For added fun, let them determine if the pasta is done. Take a noodle out of the water and let it cool, then have them throw it against a wall. If it sticks, the pasta is done. If not, it needs more time.
Language is an important part of any culture, and Italian can be a fun one to spend some time learning. Depending on the age of the child, this can be as simple as learning a few words or as in depth as learning whole sentences. Simple phrases, translations and pronunciations can be found online, making it easy to show kids how things sound and are said. Most kids can get the hang of simple words and phrases quickly -- stick with basic the basic "hello," "goodbye," "please" and "thank you" to start and go from there. Additionally, each person can select her own Italian name; find the Italian variation of your own or pick something completely different.
Music and Dance
Music and dance, like other art forms, are an important aspect of Italian culture. The Tarantella, a dance that supposedly goes back several centuries, is included in most Italian weddings and other celebrations. It is usually done by a couple, but can include a whole group of people. Traditionally, the music picks up speed as the dance goes on, making the dance faster and more difficult.
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