Learning About Karen Culture with Toddlers

One of my biggest goals of World Love Wednesday is to learn about the many different cultures in our area. The Twin Cities is home to one of the most diverse populations in our country. Therefore, choosing to learn about those cultures is a way we are striving to he good neighbors. This month we will be learning about the Karen Culture. I have to be honest, I have not been very aware or familiar with the Karen culture, but that is part of the point of doing these Wednesday features, to help educate ourselves. But, in my ignorance I didn’t even know where to start, so I enrolled the help of a friend that knows a little more than me to help me learn. Rebekah Hansen is one of my in real life friends and blogs over at The Welcoming Mama. Before becoming a stay at home mom, she Worked with the Karen Organization of Minnesota. She was such a gem in connecting me with Karen-owned businesses, kid-friendly learning tools, and even churches we can pray for over the next month. All of the tools mentioned in the post were recommended by her.

Who are the Karen people?

I learned from the Karen Organization of Minnesota (KOM) that the Karen are an ethnic people group from Burman that have faced oppression for hundreds of years. As a result, many Karen people have fled to Thailand, and have resettled in other countries. More than 17,000 Karen people live in Minnesota, making it the largest Karen community in the United States.

The Urban Village Coloring Book

The Urban Village is an organization that works with the Karen Community in Minnesota, and they recently released a FREE coloring book for littles to learn about Karen Culture! You better believe, I downloaded this as soon as I saw it. My littles love to color and it has been fun to learn and talk about Karen culture as they color.

One of the pages features cultural clothing of the Karen and Karenni people. We used Google to find various pictures of the traditional clothe and how it is worn. Then we made our clothes match. Finally, we made some little paper dolls to wear the clothes.

Music

Voice of Karen Chiang Mai is a YouTube channel with several songs in the Karen language, including popular Karen Hymns. Music can be such a fun way to introduce littles to the sounds of new languages. In my experience, littles appreciate anything with a good dance beat.

Karen Children’s Books

I love bilingual books, and I was presently surprised to find our library had a couple bilingual Karen/English books. We were able to find digital download copies of the following through the Saint Paul Public Library:

The Hen and the Badger by Saw Powder

Huggy Elephant by Win World

Food!

I could always attempt to make some Karen Thai food, but I love finding ways to support local business, and am a sucker for trying new food. Rebekah suggested making a trip out to Karen Thai Food in St. Paul for some authentic Karen Thai food. They also offer take-out, and I am hungry from just looking at the pictures on their website.

Prayer

Finally we are praying for our Karen neighbors. Please pray with us:

Dear God,

We pray for the Karen people in Burma and Thailand. We pray that you would protect them and bring about justice on their behalf. We pray for those that have come to the United States, specifically Minnesota. We pray that you would bless them with compassionate friendships, good jobs, and neighbors that would help them in their journey of adjusting to a new country. We pray for the Karen Churches in Minnesota. We pray that they would be empowered to love their communities. We pray for strength for the pastors to continue to point their congregations to Jesus.

In Jesus name,

Amen.

Have you taught your children about Karen culture yet? Comment below!

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