International Fun

By Tina Hager

Books to Share

  • Anansi Finds a Fool by Verna Aardema.
  • Calabash Cat and His Amazing Journey by James Rumford.
  • The Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale by Jack Kent.
  • Five Chinese Brothers by Clarie Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese.
  • Keeping Up with Cheetah by Lindsay Camp.

Books to Show or Booktalk

  • The Balloon Sailors by Diane Swanson.
  • A Caribbean Counting Book by Faustin Charles and Roberta Arenson.
  • The Cat Who Walked Across France by Kate Banks.
  • Goldfish and Chrysanthemums by Andrea Cheng.
  • My Chinatown: One Year in Poems by Kam Mak.

Bulletin Board

International Competition

Put pictures of flags from other countries around the edges of your bulletin board. List titles of books and stories about other countries in the center of the bulletin board. Have the children match the stories and books to their country of origin. If you don’t have a local source for flags, Mucho Fun provides colored images that can be printed for non-commercial use. Education Depot sells bulletin board edging that features flags of the world.


Good Fortune

Use the pattern to make a Daruma doll nametag. A Daruma is one of Japan’s most popular folk toys and is considered a good luck symbol in many Asian cultures. Bodai Daruma was the founder of Zen Buddhism and the round shape of the dolls reflects a legend about his life, symbolizing patience, perseverance, and balance.


Display various games played in other countries, such as Chinese checkers, mancala, etc.


Provide foods from various countries for the children to try. Fortune cookies, chow mein noodles, pretzels, and tacos are a few examples that may already be familiar to them, but try others such as hummus, gazpacho, and sushi. Stores that carry food and drinks from other countries are a good place to get items for your international buffet. Be sure to consider food allergies and advertise that your program will include food. Obtain parental approval before providing food to young children. In some situations, you may want to obtain a signed permission slip granting permission for the children to participate in the eating part of the program. The Foreign Foods Project provides links to food and recipes from around the world.


The Grand Old Duke Of York

(Traditional. If you don’t remember the original tune, sing it to the tune of “The Farmer In The Dell.”)

The Grand old Duke of York,

He had ten thousand men,

He marched them up to the top of the hill

And marched them down again.

And when they were up, they were up,

And when they were down, they were down,

And when they were only half way up

They were neither up nor down.

Frere Jacques

(Traditional. The tune is available at KiDiddles.)

Frere Jacques, Frere Jacques,

Dor-mez vous? Dor-mez vous?

Son-nez les ma-tin-es,

Son-nez les ma-tin-es.

Din, dan, don.

Din, dan, don.

Are you sleeping? Are you sleeping?

Brother John, Brother John?

Morning bells are ringing,

Morning bells are ringing,

Ding, dang, dong,

Ding, dang, dong.

Riddles and Jokes

Knock Knock.

Who’s there?


Jamaica who?

Jamaica the team?

For more riddles and jokes, use World’s Silliest Jokes by Philip Yates and Matt Rissinger or The Zaniest Riddle Book in the World by Joseph Rosenbloom.

Puppet Shows

What A Wonderful World

Let the children conduct a puppet show as shown in the book, What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele. Staff can make the props in advance, or the children can make them.


Five Chinese Brothers

Read or tell the story The Five Chinese Brothers by Clarie Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese. To extend the story, give each child a piece of paper to draw a picture of a new brother for the story. Older children can then write a description of that brother’s special talent, while younger children can describe the talent for an adult or older child to record.


Irish Shamrock


  • Green construction paper
  • Green pipe cleaners
  • Glue sticks
  • Scotch tape (optional)
  • Stapler (optional)


In advance, cut heart shapes from green construction paper. Give each child three precut heart shapes and a pipe cleaner. Have the children glue each heart together at the points, placing one heart shape to the left, one to the right, and one to the top. Tape or staple the pipe cleaner to the back of the heart shapes to form the stem and complete your Irish shamrock.

Fat Cat Pet


  • Scissors
  • Balloons
  • Twelve-inch pieces of string
  • Markers
  • Glue
  • Black construction paper


After reading or telling the story The Fat Cat: A Danish Folktale by Jack Kent, give each child a blown up balloon. Let the children cut free-hand ears from the black construction paper and tape them to the balloon near the tied end, and then use markers to draw facial features on the balloon. Cut thin strips of black construction paper for whiskers and glue them onto the balloon. When they tie a 12-inch string to the balloon, they have a pet “fat cat.” Note that young children should not be allowed to play with balloons unsupervised; this craft is not recommended for children under age five.

Games and Activities

Breads Around The World Word Search

Make a copy of the “Find That Bread” word search on page 165 of The Storyteller’s Cornucopia for the kids to do in the library or to take home.

Coconut Hunt

Fresh coconuts can be purchased at many grocery stores but if you cannot find one, use a brown ball or balloon. Choose one child to leave the room. Have another child hide the coconut somewhere in the room. Have the first child come back into the room and look for the coconut. As the child is looking, the rest of the children can chant “coconut” varying the sound level, getting louder or softer depending on how close the other child is to finding it. Children may take turns hiding and seeking the coconut.

Guest Speakers

Invite high school or college foreign language instructors, or members of the community who were born or raised in another country, to speak to the children about games that are played in other countries. Or, invite a martial arts instructor to bring students to the library for a demonstration.


If you have public performance rights, show these videos and DVDs, or segments of them, to the children. Otherwise, display them for home use.

  • Bread Comes to Life: A Garden of Wheat and a Loaf to Eat. (22 minutes)
  • George of the Jungle. (92 minutes)

Web Sites

Daily Sudoku
Try solving a daily number puzzle from Japan.

ESPN: Deportes
ESPN’s international site provides information in Spanish about sports, including sports that are most popular in Latin American countries.

KidsCom: The Mysterious Tangram Game
Test your skill with this traditional Chinese game.

InfoPlease Countries of the World
Information about various countries with maps, facts, statistics, quizzes, and more.


Geosafari Geography.

Professional Resources

  • The Fat Cat by Jack Kent.
  • The Five Chinese Brothers by Clarie Huchet Bishop and Kurt Wiese.
  • The Storyteller’s Cornucopia by Cathie Hilterbran Cooper.
  • Storytime Crafts by Kathryn Totten.
  • What a Wonderful World by George David Weiss and Bob Thiele.
  • World’s Silliest Jokes by Philip Yates and Matt Rissinger.
  • The Zaniest Riddle Book in the World by Joseph Rosenbloom.
Education Depot
School supply store that sells flag bulletin board edging material.

Foreign Foods Project
A project of Lakewood (OH) High School, this site includes links to recipes and foods from a multitude of countries and is arrange by country.

A site for children’s music, the “Musical Mouseum” provides lyrics and sound files for many popular tunes. Search by subject or song.

Mucho Fun
Provides color images of world flags that can be printed for non-commercial use.


Texas Reading Club 2006 Programming Manual / Reading: The Sport of Champions!

Published by the Library Development Division of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission

Page last modified: June 14, 2011