Korean Culture for Kids

bee-bim-bop.jpgWhen I was a kid, I so wanted my mom to be involved in school activities. Not surprisingly though, what with raising seven kids and running a business with my dad she didn’t have time. So this week I felt both happiness and more than a bit of nostalgia when my mom helped me teach Laurel’s pre-K class about Korea (the class is studying countries around the world and Laurel asked if I would come in and teach about Korea). The following are notes on what I put together; the general format would work well for any country.

Essentially, I wanted to prepare some fun stuff for circle and craft time; short and engaging enough to hold 4-5 year old attention spans while still being meaningful. I decided to add in the visual of wearing the traditional Korean hanbok (which I wore at my wedding) and when I told my mom I wanted to do this, she also offered to wear her celebratory hanbok and generously bought one for Laurel as an early birthday present. The visuals were stunning and the kids went crazy when we arrived!



For circle time I started by asking the kids if they had heard of Korea and whether any of them had been on an airplane (commence lots of squeals and chatter about airplane rides). I pointed out Korea on a map in relation to Boston, explained which direction the airplane would fly to get there, and how long you would need to ride on an airplane to get there (relative to trips that kids in the class had taken before).

My mom then taught the kids a bit about the Korean hanbok; about its celebratory use and how the hanboks she and I were wearing were worn on the day that Laurel’s parents got married. She explained how the children’s hanbok is different than the grownup hanboks because it has colorful stripes along the arms.



I read Linda Sue Park’s Bee-Bim Bop!, a rhyme format story that introduces kids to one of Korea’s famous dishes. The repeated rhyme structure was perfect for getting the kids to jump in. (We also ended up talking a lot about which kids did or did not like rice.)


My mom taught the kids the Korean children’s song Santoki. She first explained the translation, then taught the song in phonemic chunks, then put it all together. It was awesome to see the kids singing the words. They loved it and we repeated the song a couple of times.


I brought two craft options. The first was Korean flag and hanbok coloring pages that I printed out from The Holiday Zone. I also brought a color print out of the Korean flag so kids would know what colors to use. The second was a fun Korean fan craft I was happy to find at 4 Crazy Kings (thanks for the handy template 4 Crazy Kings!). For the fan craft I brought in bottles of red, yellow, and blue paint, plus colored popsicle sticks. The kids loved that the fans looked like swirled lollipops. Laurel also made a second fan, leaving a triangle attached to the bottom so it looked like an ice cream cone.

The teachers were fantastic. They set up art smocks and bowls of paint for the fan craft and it was just the right project in terms of length and ability. The kids cut out the fans then painted them and the teachers laid the fans out to dry (the kids assembled the fans the following day). Since the kids needed to get ready for snack and outside time, they saved the coloring pages for afternoon activity time.


Laurel had a great time sitting between my mom and me in the “teacher spot,” and was very excited to dismiss the kids from circle one by one, the way the teachers do, to get ready for Korean craft time.

And my mom? She loved it and wanted to go back for more.