American activities for kids
April 21, 2010 7:32 PM   Subscribe

I’ve volunteered to represent the United States at an international night for 10-13 year old girls. What sort of fun activities that reflect American culture could I organize?

I’m in Australia, so American food, language, and clothing wouldn’t be all that different from what they’re used to. I’m trying to come up with something uniquely American that I could do for an activity. Girls will be in groups of seven or eight and I'll have them for about twenty minutes. Games, arts and crafts, and interactive activities work best. In the past, a Norway representative had them make snow globes and a Singapore representative taught them a traditional dance. All of my current ideas (making hot dogs with a toppings bar, playing Uno, choreographing a dance to a Miley Cyrus song) seem either ridiculous or boring- help!!
posted by emd3737 to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (25 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
The first thing that sprang to my mind was teaching them to jump double dutch, but you need a pretty big space in order for more than a few girls to jump at a time. If you have that much space, double dutch is crazy fun. If not, maybe line dancing or square dancing? Or...break dancing?

You should probably serve them Cajun food since I feel like that's our most interesting cuisine.
posted by little light-giver at 7:43 PM on April 21, 2010

Contra dance is a ton of fun - even if you just do a very simple one, it's an active and cooperative game. Just reading about it on Wiki makes me miss it.
posted by amethysts at 7:51 PM on April 21, 2010

My first thought was square dancing. We seem to have a consensus. :)
posted by MexicanYenta at 7:58 PM on April 21, 2010

hula hoops
posted by plantbot at 8:04 PM on April 21, 2010

This might be helpful: if you had to represent the USA with only three things, what would they be?
posted by k. at 8:08 PM on April 21, 2010

Double dutch? Wouldn't that be better coordinated by one of the girls from the Netherlands?

You could teach them baseball/softball or basketball.
posted by thorny at 8:13 PM on April 21, 2010

Oh man it's hard to resist giving non-answer answers to this question. BUT. Contra dance is a pretty good idea, actually, and it's really, really fun. I think a bunch of 10-13 year olds would love it.

I was also thinking something to do with jazz, but I can't think of anything interactive.

I'm also trying to think of *uniquely* America food products, in the Vegemite vein. I know marshmallows are pretty USA-centric. Or Spam, but spam is insanely gross.

If all else fails, put on an episode of the Simpsons (just kidding. kind of.)
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:14 PM on April 21, 2010

Or! You could teach them all this song, which pretty much sums us up.
posted by Lutoslawski at 8:16 PM on April 21, 2010

For food; watermelon seems very American to me (can you even get it? It would be late in the season downunder). Barbecue, not just meat cooked on a grill, but it takes a long time. Hamburgers and Hot Dogs are still totally American, in spite of McDonald's, aren't they? You would know better than I would. Home made ones are a lot! better than the fast food things.

You could teach them this song. It's a national anthem for some, but not as good for dancing as Waltzing Matilda.

Does anyone but us play four square?
posted by Some1 at 8:39 PM on April 21, 2010

Ew, square dancing?

Lindy Hop, bros.
posted by Dreamcast at 8:56 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Patchwork quilting is pretty American, actually. While you obviously can't make a whole quilt in 20 minutes, you could do something like have them each design their own quilt block on paper and explain why they chose what they did. Quilt block as scrapbook, almost. I would've liked to do that at that age. (Granted, I'm kind of a craft nerd, but it's also drawing and coloring...)
posted by web-goddess at 9:08 PM on April 21, 2010

Dodgeball. Australian schools don't play it, but the kids hear and read about it.
posted by Fiasco da Gama at 9:45 PM on April 21, 2010

S'mores? I suspect those are more of a standard camping thing, but if they're not widespread in Australia they could be very fun.
posted by athenasbanquet at 9:55 PM on April 21, 2010 [1 favorite]

Teach them the words to an American folk song like Oh Susanna or She'll be Coming Round the Mountain.
You can give the older girls a history of spirituals and talk about how they influenced American music.
If you have the space, a small game of (touch) football or (whiffle) baseball could be fun.
posted by martinX's bellbottoms at 10:12 PM on April 21, 2010

How about a TV gameshow type game of basic history and geography? TV gameshows are very "American," and the subject can be educational and simple.

Stuff like ... Name four American states that start with the letter A (Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas). How many stars on the U.S. flag? 50. Why? One for each state. How many stripes? 13. Why? One for each of the 13 original states. What sport is called "the national pastime?" Baseball. Biggest state? Alaska. Biggest city? New York. Most populous state? California.
posted by Cool Papa Bell at 10:49 PM on April 21, 2010

S'mores would be great to do, but you'll probably have trouble finding graham crackers. They just DO NOT EXIST in Australia, as far as I can tell. Can you get over to USA Foods? They might have some.

The problem with the game show is that those questions are probably too hard. I know; they're totally easy for Americans, but in my experience most people outside the US don't know the states all that well. (I once had someone swear up and down at pub trivia that "New England" was a state.) They know American TV and celebs and stuff, but geography and flag questions would probably get you a lot of blank looks.
posted by web-goddess at 10:57 PM on April 21, 2010

OOHHHH, Rice Krispie Treats! Totally American, and they don't exist here at all. (The Australian equivalent is Chocolate Crackles and they're really very different.)
posted by web-goddess at 11:06 PM on April 21, 2010

Corn (maize) on the cob and Mad Libs.
posted by brujita at 11:49 PM on April 21, 2010

You could make dreamcatchers. That's more crafty and has a good story to it.
posted by paperzach at 12:56 AM on April 22, 2010

Cowgirl stuff seems like a good fit. Teach them how to tie and throw a lasso (rope is cheap), serve cookout chili or hotdogs, maybe even rent or borrow a horse.
posted by anti social order at 7:08 AM on April 22, 2010

I also thought of a real American-type barbeque--with KC-style sauce, corn done on the grill, and of course s'mores. When I visited cousins in England, they were fascinated by this whole concept vand begged me to show them. (Of course, we could not find plain white American-style marshmallows or graham crackers, so we had to make do with those dense pink-and-white marshmallows and Hobnobs.)
posted by Ms. Informed at 9:01 AM on April 22, 2010

Truth, Dare, Double Dare, Promise to Repeat.
But then, they might have that in Australia already.
posted by Sully at 9:50 AM on April 22, 2010

They could make Native American corn-husk dolls, if you can find corn husks. Also -- do Australians eat corn-on-the-cob? (I can't tell if or how far this extends out of America -- they don't in some countries I've visited where corn is not eaten that much.) If not, there's another potential food (to go with watermelon!)

I also like the idea of s'mores.
posted by Solon and Thanks at 2:10 PM on April 22, 2010

Thanks for the ideas, everyone! Contra dancing sounds like a blast but I don't think I'll be able to learn it in time to teach it to the girls. I'm leaning towards s'mores and maybe a folk song or two- I do have that Bruce Springsteen Seeger Sessions album that has a bunch of songs I remember from when I was a kid. Some of the craft ideas (quilt blocks, dreamcacthers) might work well, too.
posted by emd3737 at 2:36 PM on April 22, 2010

Hot dogs could go with baseball; Learn the rules of baseball, the song "take me out to the ballgame" and have hot dogs, peanuts and crackerjacks (caramel corn+nuts)

Elvis songs - great for kids to dance to or whatever. Or do Elvis impressions.

Jazz - let them hear several different versions of eg Swing Low Sweet Chariot or other traditional songs to see how the songs change in different interpretations
posted by LobsterMitten at 9:00 PM on April 23, 2010

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